To our wonderful students: Friday evening you made your way back to Quito for our final retreat weekend where we had a fantastic several days of reunion and reflection!
SST is a mix of challenges, accomplishments and growth moments. Sometimes it’s hard to see the growth until we’ve passed the moment and get the chance and space to look back. It’s safe to say that everyone here has been stretched in one way or another beyond your comfort zones to varying degrees. We’ve asked you to do some hard things, and we’ve seen you rise to the task. You’ve gotten bug bites, you’ve taken cold showers, you’ve been in a new culture and language and haven’t always known what’s going on or what the plan is, you got the big tim, you’ve been stressed and at times lonely and homesick.
We want to assure you that we have seen so much growth in each one of you!! You’ve adapted, you’ve taken on attitudes of resilience, you’ve grown in independence and initiative, that thing that was once out of reach, you figured out how to do it and got it done! We are proud of you and are confident that these experiences good and bad will continue to serve you as you move into the future and on with your lives.
This weekend we attempted to begin this reflection and search for meaning and think about how might we communicate the complexity of everything that’s happened to people back home. At this weekend’s retreat workshop we took 3 months of thoughts, feelings and learnings and tried to summarize some of that into a condensed 5-minute version that someone else could maybe understand.
In one of our group times a couple months ago, we talked about big questions that maybe included processing your place in the world, your personal identity, your relationship with God, and themes of poverty and privilege. It’s clear that your SST journey has provided clarity to some of your own big questions and for some of you it has opened you up further to new big questions.
We think that much of what you “learn” from SST may be things that you’ll discover in the coming months or years—that’s part of the true gift of SST! So we encourage you to allow your SST story to be fluid and not final, we think it’s okay to think of this as a perpetual draft… because the way you are reflecting on your time, this past weekend and now, will probably be different from the way you see your SST experience in 5, 10 or 20 years.
You’ve lived in another culture and country for 3 months, you’ve gotten the chance to participate in normal daily life and work here with Ecuadorians. It was inspiring to hear your positive take-a-ways and reflections! And we hope you’ve built a greater appreciation for globalization, your understanding of international frameworks, systems, peoples and cultures and maybe above all we hope that you share in the belief of the power and value of multicultural friendships.
Peace and Blessings to you in your next journeys,
Caleb y Nina Longenecker-Fox