The beginning of October brought big changes for me in Quito: the beginning of school. My host parents, Elsie and Alejandro, had enrolled me in Colegio Aleman, the German School. They did not want to enroll me in any of the American schools, believing my experience in Ecuador would not be enhanced in any way being around Americans and English speakers during school day. Their children had attended Colegio Aleman and they held the school in high regard. It was settled, I would be attending Colegio Aleman as well. I would be a twelfth grader.
About a week before classes were to start Elsie and I went shopping for school uniforms. Dark green cardigan sweater and knee socks, white blouse, black and white small plaid pleated skirt with flat black shoes. Attractive. I had never worn a school uniform. This would be different for me. All of the schools in Quito, public and private, had uniform policies and their own specific uniform. You could identify where students were enrolled by their uniform. I thought this was brilliant.
The good news was I would be home from school every day for lunch with the family at 130 in the afternoon. The bad news was the school bus picked me up at 630 in the morning.
Elsie saw me off on the first day of school, snapping the obligatory first day of school photos in her curlers and housecoat. The bus pulled up. I waved goodbye.
I was actually one of the last stops before we drove to school so some of the children must have been catching the school bus in the dark. There were children from kindergarten up to twelfth grade on the bus. Because I was nearly the last stop, if any seats were left they were at the front of the bus. A number of children stood. I stood. I felt very conspicuous.
After about fifteen minutes, we pulled up to the school, a large white stucco building with an ornate entryway. I reported to the office to check in. I was nervous. Would the people be nice? Would I be able to find my way around?