Lucas Doran 
2012-13 Outbound to Ecuador
Hometown: North Fort Myers, FL
School: Cape Coral High School
Sponsor: District 6960, FL
Host: District 4440, Thailand
The Rotary Club of Quito Occidente

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A new love, in a new land, in a new life. Ecuador, what can I really say. It’s seems like a land of wonders. Where you look down on clouds, where the sunset is the most beautiful thing I have even seen. It all started about two months ago. I packed my things, said good bye to friends and family stepped aboard a plane with a destination I have never been to. What would drive me to do such a thing? Is it adventure, learning, culture? It was all of these things, if you are thinking of becoming an exchange student go for it. There is a whole world out there waiting for you to discover it. Rotary youth exchange can lead you to new things, possibilities, lands, languages, cultures, people, values and religions. Most people are afraid of the unknown but exchange students venture into it. Leaving what you know will help you grow as a person, if you don’t try new things you may possibly never branch off into things you could have liked. Most people turn away from things they are not familiar with, because they are afraid, there is nothing in life to afraid of. You only live once and are lives are too beautiful to be short live. If you have a dream go after it, the only thing holding you back from what you want in life is yourself. People are afraid of themselves and if they can truly accomplish what they set out for. Set out to be different, dare to be different, it’s the people who did their best and gave things there all are the ones who are most happy in life. When people are born the life has no purpose, but as we grow we find purpose, from it being a relationship, a passion, a need for learning. There are so many reasons to live life. But there are others who never find the courage to take on the world they give up on dreams and settle for what they have, if you really want something you can always work for it in time and hard work it will come your way. Not everyone lives life but everyone dies.

I was sitting on the plane for six hours and I thought to myself where will this year abroad take me? Will I come back knowing a different language and views on life? What will I like to do with my own? When I arrived in Quito international airport I knew that my year long life cultural adventure had begun, I am not scared or nervous because my exchange is what I wanted. I spent a whole year waking up and thinking about and I know my time here is limited so I am going to spend every moment here with a smile.

My first week here is Ecuador was about settling in, getting to know my host family. I live in a very modern house, I have one host brother that’s twenty and a mother and father. They are very happy to have me and I am very respectful toward them. The city is huge, it has about two million people and all ways seems to in rush hour and has a lot of traffic. There is a lot to do in Quito from going to one of the many malls to going to play soccer at the local park. The people here are really friendly and are always willing to help me if I need it. There are so many new foods and I have liked everything so far. I have been cable carting and zip lining in Mindo, a little town like two hours north of Quito. I went the amazon with my consoler. I spent two days in the amazon and I have decided it has the biggest bugs on the planet. The amazon is full of amazing plant life. There is such a diversity of life and it is truly are planets lungs and which is why I think there should be more protected. There is still so much more for people to discover on this earth. And I believe that are oceans and rainforest are holding the key to finding cures too many different things. While in the amazon I meet a witch doctor who performed a quick ceremony on my counselor to rid her of evils.

I also went to a place to observe how locals in the jungle hunt there food using traps and blow guns. At that center was a zip lining that you could let go of and dive into the river, I did that several times and I would do gainers off it and the locals found that very impressive, it was like a tree swing but amazon style. I also attended an animal rescue center and go to see tons on animals ranging from toucans, monkeys and turtles of the amazon. All the animals were rescues and when rehabbed could be released back into the jungle if they were capable.

I attended language camp in Esmeraldas in Mampichi on the coast, it was really interesting to meet about half of the other exchange students. Kids from all over the globe go on exchange and I find it so interesting that there are so many different views of life, morals, respects, values. Rotary youth exchange is truly a wonderful program, there are other exchange programs out there but I feel like I am in the best one. I know I am very far from home but I don’t feel far from home at all. I fell that Ecuador is the perfect country for me. Mampichi has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. It seems to stretch on forever. I have become friends with many of the local kids because I play futbol. They are confused on how a non-Latino person can play futbol so well.

I really like my school, it has about two hundred students so in time I will get to know everyone. All the students are very interested in meeting the exchange students. In my class study Spanish all day long because the teachers don’t ask me to do anything yet since I don’t speak excellent Spanish. I got to school with a girl from France, a girl from Germany and a girl from Canada, so that makes me the only exchange student boy at my school. I have gone to mital del mundo with my concealer, it’s the middle of the world where the longitude is 0’. It was very interesting and I learned allot more about Quito’s history and Ecuador.

Things here are different but yet also very similar at the same time, it’s like my life back in Florida but not at the same time. The kids are different but similar, there are good days and bad days just like back home. But exchange is like a roller coaster, we have to wait in line and your nervous, exited and hold many different emotions on how you feel, you get on the ride and it has ups and downs but the whole time you hold a smile, that’s how exchange is but we don’t always hold a smile, but we should because before I know it the ride will be over and I have only been here a short time but I know that this year will be wonderful.