Practicing Patience: A student’s reflection from the VT Ecuador Study Abroad Trip

Practicing Patience

A reflection during the 2018 VT Ecuador Study Abroad Trip

Written by Evania Sempeles, Undergraduate Student, VT Biological Sciences

Adults repeat the mantra “patience is a virtue” to children in an attempt to control their disorderly behavior from an early age. Everyone has heard the phrase at some point in their lives, but not many people reflect on the words and actively practice patience.

To many, the hustle of work, school, and family pulls us in all directions yet it still feels as though we aren’t “doing enough”. We feel rushed, anxious, and stressed that we aren’t receiving results immediately. This is increasingly true in the age of quick and easy Google searches, emails, and communication literally at your fingertips. Keeping up with friends, colleagues, and coworkers can cause you to feel the pressure of society telling us to be “productive” or “busy”. In my opinion, this toxic mindset is caused by measuring our self-worth based on the monetary value of our output.

Being at the Shiripuno Lodge has given me time to decompress from the world of fast success and immediate satisfaction. Of course, not having cell service or access to the internet has been a bit of an adjustment, but the real patience comes from the lessons in the forest.

Seemingly-dead orchids that have been given tender care will sprout vibrant green stalks if given some time and a chance at a new life. This same patience can be applied when staring at an empty hummingbird feeder for hours or chasing after monkeys for days. When butterfly eggs are collected, patience is practiced every day until metamorphosis is completed and the identity of the butterfly is revealed. Patience is practiced when learning a new skill, such as basket weaving, when the sides fall apart or the pattern is forgotten and frustration sets in.

As Fernando Vaca says, “patience is nurturing”, as the jungle both teaches us valuable lessons and helps us to grow like its beautiful orchids.