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Sharing Traditions

By Charlie

I remember minutes before our “talent show” pleading with Olivia to change my host family following an epiphany about how awesome it would be to live with grandparents. Looking back I want to thank Olivia for not agreeing to this request as I have never been happier to not get what I wanted.

Honestly, I am probably the worst person to talk about overcoming challenges. Yes, the first few days were a little strange, but after getting more acclimated to living with my host family I’ve come to understand just how fortunate I am.

After a long first week with my host family, I was relieved when Sunday came. I finally would be able to relax and mentally prepare for another daunting week ahead. As someone who grew up in a Jewish household, Sunday has always been the day for football, therefore I was confused when my host sister wouldn’t stop knocking on my door, interrupting my beauty sleep. I knew I couldn’t have overslept the all-important noon kickoff. Majo, my host sister, finally opened my door and told me that we were leaving for church in fifteen minutes.

Before this fall, I understood that almost all people in Ecuador are Catholic. But as someone who does not practice Catholicism, I wanted to tell them about my desire to sit in front of a TV on Sundays while avidly checking to see how my fantasy football teams were doing. As a confident and self-assured person, it probably comes as a surprise when I tell you that 30 minutes later I found myself not on a couch watching football, but instead at the church crossing myself. Don’t worry though, the following week I built up the courage to…ask how long the service was going to be. Although it was never my plan to go to church, I found it incredibly interesting to learn about a different religion and the similarities it has to my own.

When Rosh Hashanah came, I told my family I was planning to go the river across the street to do Tashlich, a ceremony when Jews symbolically cast off their sins from the previous year by tossing bread crumbs into flowing water. Without hesitation, both my mother and brother asked if they could join me. Despite being thousands of miles away from my Jewish community, I was still able to celebrate the Jewish New Year in a very meaningful way and I feel extremely lucky to be able to share my traditions with my Ecuadorian family as they have shared their traditions with me.