Since middle school my daughter Annika had planned to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country during her junior year of college. In 5 days she will be returning home from her extraordinary year in Quito, Ecuador where she was a student at USFQ (Universidad San Francisco Quito) through BCA Study Abroad. I am tremendously excited about her return, yet I realize that I am going to miss her being in Ecuador.
When Annika embarked on this journey 10 months ago this is what I knew:
I knew she would have an exciting, life-changing, adventurous experience.
I knew she would feel lonely at times and experience some difficult hurdles.
I knew her Spanish language ability would explode and she would become fluent.
I knew that I was truly excited for her adventures.
I knew that I would miss her terribly.
But what I did NOT know, was how much her experience abroad would enrich me!
I didn’t realize how attached I would grow to her host family and relatives, her new friends through BCA, the university, and the faith community with whom she connected.
I didn’t realize how her insights and contemplation about a new country and culture would impact my insights, interests, and contemplation not only about Ecuador but also the U.S. and beyond.
I didn’t realize that hearing about her discoveries would provide fodder for reflection on my own learning.
I didn’t realize that injustices she learned and cared about would become injustices in which I would develop interest and concern.
I didn’t realize her connection to Ecuador would also create a meaningful connection for me.
Ten months ago I could not have imagined this thought being a reality for me; I only would have envisioned the sheer excitement about her returning home in just a few days. I am so grateful for both of these feelings…the eagerness and the wistfulness.
I feel great appreciation for what BCA has contributed to what has become a truly transformative experience for both of us.
– Mona Jean Harley, Annika Harley’s mother – Year 2016-17 BCA Quito student