Finding Your Niche

Alissa Welker
March 19, 2015
Good friends and nature

Throughout my travels in Ecuador, including: the Galapagos Islands, small mountain towns, living in Quito, and my latest trip to the Amazon I have taken the time to reflect on the type of environment where I feel the happiest and the most at home. I am a strong believer that you have the power to find the good in any situation or living environment, but I have also come to realize that every individual has their own niche, and when put in certain situations or environments people have the opportunity to thrive.

Living in Quito has been the first time in my life that I have lived in a big city. When I first arrived it was a huge adjustment getting used to the constant sounding of alarms, the cars driving by at all hours of the night, and having to take precaution against robbers anytime on public transportation and out on the streets in general. And although I am learning to appreciate aspects of city life and recognize that there are advantages to living in the hustle and bustle, my weekend trips to small towns, into the mountains where hostels are characterized by wooden structures, thatched roofs, and more hammocks than chairs, have helped me to recognize where I feel the most at home.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to the edge of the Amazon rain forest and stay in a beautiful community called Sinchi Warmi outside of the town of Missahualli, Ecuador. This hostel and community tourism destination is run by a small staff of indigenous women who make handicrafts and have been empowered by their community tourism business. Sleeping in wooden structures with intricately thatched roofs made by local materials was so cool. Especially, because one of my friends that went with us had done a year of service at the location and showed us which section of the roof he thatched.

Monkeys, tarantulas, awesome frogs and caterpillars were some of the awesome wildlife that we saw throughout the weekend. Walking through the rainforest made me realize how happy I am in nature and the tangible difference I can feel between life in the city and life in the mountains/rainforest/great outdoors. Surrounded by fresh air and the natural environment is where I have the opportunity to thrive. My love for the outdoors stems from my childhood, where we went to the lake nearly every other weekend and is also deeply connected to my studies in Environmental Science where I have had the opportunity to explore the complex and beautiful relationships that exist in nature.

This past weekend was a wonderful opportunity to get away from the city and enjoy doing what I love. Hiking, rafting, and spending time with friends made me appreciate the simple gifts in life. Even though my niche is the outdoors, every individual has their own environment that they have something extra special to offer. It is interesting to consider what this is for each person. Whether it is suburban or city life or maybe you are a really great cook and know your way around the kitchen; whatever your niche is I think it is important to recognize that everyone has unique gifts and talents to offer others and the ability to share our joys and passions in life.


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Alissa Welker

<p>I am a junior Environmental Science Major with a Peace and Justice Concentration and Spanish minor at Villanova University. I love backpacking, traveling and new adventures. I am so excited to be spending the semester in Quito, Ecuador and I hope that these posts will help you experience the culture and beauty of life in South America through my eyes.</p>

2015 Spring
Home University:
Villanova University
Environmental Studies
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