Martinez Madness

Carl Sechrist

If you were to stop freshman Jacob Martinez in the hall and ask him a question, it might not be immediately evident he has only been living in U. City, or even in the United States, for just seven months. Jacob lived in Ecuador with his siblings John (senior) and Caroline (junior), who also attend U. City.

At the beginning of this school year, Jacob and his siblings moved here with their mother from a town near Ecuador’s capitol, Quito, called Cumbaya. Cumbaya is a bit like U. City – a suburb that is more like an extension of the city than a separate town. The homes found in Cumbaya, however, are very different than what is normally seen in U. City.

“Our neighborhood was good, but not as good as in University City,” said senior John Martinez, Jacob’s brother. He goes on to say that the living conditions are “generally worse.”

There are noticeably larger gaps between social classes in Ecuador than in the United States. This means that wealthy are quite wealthy and the poor are “very, very poor,” according to Jacob. The middle class in Ecuador, unlike in the United States, is very small.

Although many of the holidays celebrated in Ecuador are the same as in the US, there are a few extras specific to Ecuador.

Junior Caroline Martinez, describes one of the unique holidays celebrated in Ecuador called Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It is a very unique event and “not like the Mexican holiday.” Unlike Day of the Dead in Mexico, it is not particularly festive.

“It is a day to go to graveyards and visit dead [ancestors],” Caroline said. In honor of the dead, families bake decorated, body-shaped loaves of bread called Guaguas de Pan.

There is also a long holiday for the independence of Ecuador, which was “like a spring break” for Caroline, Jacob, and John when they lived in Cumbaya.

In Cumbaya, Jacob did not participate in as many activities outside of school as he does here. He hung out with his friends, played guitar, and recreational soccer.

“I went out with friends a lot more,” he said.
His slight lack of an extensive social life since moving here could certainly be attributed to the fact that he is new here and does not know as many people, although another contributing factor could be the greater number of activities in which he participates in.

Since starting at U. City, Jacob has become a member of the cross country team and participates in Latin Club. He is running track this spring, participating in the 800 meter and 1600 meter events. On the weekend, he likes to hang out around the city and, like any normal teenager, he likes to sleep.

“I think I might have insomnia,” he said of his irregular sleep pattern.
While he lived in Ecuador, Jacob went to a small private school, called Pachamama, which was only a few hundred students in size.

He describes the schools in Ecuador as “not at all like in America,” and also says that they are “more of a challenge,” in that they have a more demanding workload, as well as a more strict homework policy than this school does.

“It was nice to know everybody,” Jacob says of Pachamama, which seems similar in size to Crossroads College Prep School on DeBaliviere.
Caroline describes Pachamama, which uses a Montessori style of learning, as “hippie.” Another outstanding feature of the school is the fact that there are many separate buildings that students travel between throughout the day.

It would appear that Jacob has become well acclimated to living in the United States, however, “I’m not used to the culture in America,” he said. “I don’t like it here, but I didn’t like it in Ecuador either.”