Discovering Degrees of Separation and Connection in Ecuador

This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America. Learn more about MSEC here.


by: Adam Sarsony

I hate to sound cliché, but being here in Ecuador has taught me that it really is a small world after all. Not only has the internet brought people together in new and incredible ways, allowing my homestay brother in Pulingui to watch the same Facebook videos that I’ve watched in the states, but we also just really aren’t as separated as it seems.

Just today I spoke with a friend of my homestay brother here in Pulingui. His sister was an engineering student at the University of Maryland just a year or two ago. This may not seem surprising, after all there are tens of thousands of students at Maryland each year. But this is a rural community where most people live within 30 minutes of their homes for their entire lives.

Even more surprising was my discovery in Ñamarin. There, I met a man who lived in the United States, but was visiting some of his cousins in Ecuador. As I was talking to him, we quickly learned that we lived about 10 minutes away from each other. He worked as a manager at the grocery store where my family and I have been buying groceries for the past 5 or 6 years!

I can’t even imagine how many times he and I may have crossed paths without even knowing it. I drove by his house everyday on my way to school for 7 years, and when I went to get snacks after school he was usually working at the grocery store that I was visiting. It’s astounding to me that I grew up next to this person for years but never truly met him until I went to a small rural community in the middle of Ecuador.

Learning this really has made me wonder just how close all of us are to each other—how many lives are indirectly connected to mine and how many lives are indirectly connected to those lives. It still takes my breath away to think that there could only be one or two degrees of separation between me and millions of people in hundreds of cities and towns and communities all around the world.

It really is inspiring to me to know that humanity has become this interconnected and that even complete strangers may somehow be a part of our lives. It may not mean much to have a friend of a friend of a friend in common with some stranger, but I think that having these interwoven relationships is a powerful base on which we can build a common human understanding.



Adam Sarsony is a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland studying Operations Management and Finance with a minor in Technology and Entrepreneurship. Outside of class, Adam enjoys running through the parks around campus and reading up on the latest business news. After graduation, he would like to go into nonprofit finance.

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