After speaking with my parents and gaining their
approval, I packed my bag for South America with
no idea of what to expect once I got there.
I departed from Chicago Aug. 26, 2012, and landed
in Quito, Ecuador, the country’s capital, where
my orientation would begin. I was roommates
with a Frenchman who soon became one of my
best friends throughout my trip. I instantly made
friends from all over the world, including students
from France, Belgium, Australia, South Korea,
Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, United States
From the moment I had my first meal, I knew
Ecuador had a culinary menu that was very tasty;
two staple foods that I had almost on a daily basis
were white rice and plantains.
While in Guayaquil, I stayed with a host family
who took me in, not as a guest, but as their son. I
will be the first person to admit that I was scared
to speak Spanish and quickly learned how much I
didn’t understand when talking to native speakers.
My development of the language quickly
sharpened, and I gained more and more
At my university I took regular classes consisting
of Spanish, history of Ecuador and an internship
class. My internship was at Hospital Luis Vernaza,
where I worked in the surgery department.
My first day on the job, my eyes were opened to
a difference in the world of medicine between
the USA and Ecuador. I, for the first time, saw
what real poverty was. I got to work directly with
patients who truly were inspirations to me. I also
assisted the doctors in surgery and
One of my favorite experiences while I was in
Ecuador was when I went to a small fishing village
outside the city of Duran, and helped build homes
with the non-profit organization Hogar de Cristo.
Seeing the appreciation these families had for us
and their new homes is something that will remain
with me for the rest of my life.
Another highlight of my adventure was a trip
to the famous Galapagos Islands. I took a four-
day trip to the islands of San Cristobal and Santa
Cruz where I snorkeled with seals, swam with
sea turtles and sharks, and walked with iguanas.
The last night of my trip, my friends and I slept
on the beach, stargazing all night. It was the most
amazing experience I have ever had dealing
Overall, I left William Woods looking to perfect my
Spanish and learn about third-world medicine. I
returned with new, lifelong friends and a second
place I call home.
Watson makes friends with children in the fishing village outside Duran.
This is one of two homes Watson helped to build in a fishing village. He said the experience
opened his eyes to what real poverty is.
Top) The scenic view in Quito, Ecuador.
Bottom) Seals are plentiful on the Galapagos Islands, as
are iguanas and tortoises.
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