MikeRoss' Travel Journals


What is the most interesting thing you learned in another culture?

Plantains are not bananas!

  • 31 years old
  • From Virginia, United States
  • Currently in Ecuador

Ecuador 101

I'm headed to Ecuador for the first time - I'll be in the city and in the rainforest, so this should be interesting!

Back in the States

Ecuador Ecuador  |  Oct 14, 2011
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Interning abroad has been such an incredible way to see the world and experience new cultures. While in Ecuador I had the unique opportunity of watching three different societies blend, all at the hands of a social enterprise. This was an interesting social, cultural, and even business adventure.

The first thing that this internship made me realize was the power of capitalism – especially capitalism in a government that is so communist. Runa, the company that I was working for, identified a crop that could impact the tea market in both the US and Europe. They then met with local farmers and created culturally accepted incentives for increased guayusa production. Runa has taken great pride in respecting the culture and processes involving guayusa; they have not simply been ‘pillaging’ and taking advantage of the local indigenous people. They have brought jobs and money to people that once had none. In the United States you often hear about companies involved in countless scandals, and after a while, it can force you to lose faith in “the system.” To a certain extent, Runa and this internship have helped to reinvigorate my faith in the capitalist system. Watching Runa develop their business around a culture was admirable and refreshing.

From a cultural standpoint, interning abroad with World Internships helped me realize how ‘good’ we have it here in the states. I’ve written about it before, but it just seems like here in the States we have a tendency to take things for granted. Once you go and live with a society that has very little, it really helps put things in perspective. Because of the time that I spent in Ecuador I now appreciate even the simplest of things…such as high speed internet or drinkable tap water.

However, you don’t only end up missing the little things. Working in an underdeveloped country also makes you respect the social construction that we have here in the States. When we turn on the TV and hear about social injustices, involving gender or race, we seem to forget how good things here have gotten. Now, by no means am I saying that we need to not address these social injustices – I just hope that we will remember how far we’ve come as a society, and not get lost solely in what’s still wrong. Does that make sense? I hope so… In Ecuador a man can back-hand his wife on the bus and no one says anything…in Ecuador there is a clear difference between the status of Kichwa and Colonos…

Overall, I think that interning abroad has helped open my mind to a plethora of things. When you intern abroad you find yourself learning things that you could have never imagined learning. It was an incredible experience that I would suggest everyone do at least once. Try something new – step out of your country and intern abroad! www.worldinternships.org

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