Honduras is a weird place. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but as an American, I have seen some things here that have completely surprised me. I watched an adult woman use an escalator for the first time with help from a mall security guard. I have been in a small van with about 24 people, some of whom were hanging on outside the car as we were driving down a highway. I wake up to roosters crowing every morning and fall asleep to reggaeton and fireworks that the neighbors set off at night for no apparent reason. The water shuts off when it rains, meaning it can be off for days. (I’m writing this on Friday and haven’t showered since Monday. My hair does not smell good.) If someone had told me five months ago that I would be living here, I wouldn’t have believed them.
Living in Honduras hasn’t been a cakewalk. There are things I miss about home. I have yet to eat quality cheese in Honduras. I have eaten super salty, powdered “cheese” and “cheddar” that tastes of chemicals, but nothing that satiates my deep desire for cheesy things. As someone whose diet usually consists mainly of cheese and carbs, this has been a serious problem for me. I miss hot showers too. When it’s cold outside (it can drop down to a frigid 70 degrees!), the last thing I want to do is get under freezing cold water. I usually just don’t, which contributes to the issue of my hair being gross. I miss being able to hop on a bus and visit my family or just pick up the phone and call my mom. I’m incredibly sad not to be eating Thanksgiving dinner at home. Sometimes I wish I could meet up with friends for dinner and drinks and have a night out on the town (this is a polite way of saying, “go out barhopping”).
Even though my social life is vastly different here, my hair is constantly dirty, I’m hundreds of miles from my family, and I live a depressingly cheese-less existence, I can’t imagine leaving Honduras before my year here is up. I don’t know how to describe it without being cliché. I spend my days working with these goofy, little kids who crack me up while driving me crazy. I deal with kids constantly coming up to me and saying, “Miss! The Emily. She pushing! SHE PUSHING!” and instead of being annoyed that I have to go handle the issue, I’m proud because at least they whined to me in English. My students come to my desk during free reading time and point out every word in a book that I’ve taught them.
I’ve never been a gung-ho, “save the world” type, but I come home every day feeling fulfilled about what I did that day. Even though I have basically no experience teaching, I feel like I am somehow managing to actually teach 19 third graders something valuable. I don’t worry about what I should be doing with my life anymore because right now, I know I should be here, teaching these kids, dirty hair and all. That’s reinforced when I get a note from a kid saying, “I love Mizz Lizz. I am happy.” (And yes, we did learn “happy” this year. There’s still time to work on “miss” and my name.)
-Liz, this year’s 3rd grade teacher