After a Year in Honduras

It’s unbelievable but the time has come and the school year is coming to an end and it makes me think a lot about everything I had learned, seen and done. It’s been an incredible experience. I’m proud that I had the opportunity to teach my kids. I became very fond of them. It hasn’t always been easy, but it was worth it.

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All I can say is that I would recommend everyone who has the time to come for a year and give a little bit of yourself. You will get something back…actually… a lot.

Teaching aside, because of being here in Honduras for nearly a year, I’ve had an opportunity to learn about this unique culture. Whilst there are things I don’t understand or don’t accept, I’ve seen how happy many people are without having much. And I’m not only talking about money. I’ve seen so many broken families, parents who have left their kids to move to a different country for work or just found new partners…or maybe without any good reason. Despite this, people seem to be happy and capable of taking this life the way it is…. Maybe it’s just my perception, but sometimes I think that Hondurans know how to really live (unlike us hurried Europeans who spend so much time working rather than with friends and family or planning our lives than actually living them).

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I’ve also met so many unbelievably hospitable and nice people. I’ve stayed in so many houses of people I barely knew. They have cooked for me, showed me around, and offered their homes.

Once my friend asked me if I wanted to visit a small village in Santa Barbara for some kind of celebration and he met fantastic people there a week before. I agreed, and ended up having a great weekend staying in someone’s house. The mother was so nice – she would wait for us until we got back from the festivities and cook for us, and when we woke up, she was in the kitchen ready to serve breakfast and coffee… I would change any 5 star hotel experience for this.

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Another example is a recent one. I wanted to visit La Ceiba (a beach town in the north) and mentioned it to my Honduran friend. Turns out her aunt has family there. We were there for three days, being fed, shown around… incredible.

Every time I visited any Honduran family, I always felt like I’m at home. There is something about Hondurans…they are so easy and welcoming. It’s hard to describe.

I’m truly happy I was here and I know that when leaving at the end of July, it will be heart breaking as I will miss all my friends I found here.

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Honduras Round 2

I never thought I’d be here. I’ve always been a “by the book” kind of girl that has a plan and follows the well-beaten path. I worked hard in high school so I could go to a good college. I worked hard in college and did all the internships and extracurriculars so I could get a good job. And then I graduated and had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I nannied for a year in NYC, while still trying to join back up on the path to “success.” I took the LSAT and applied to law schools. I got accepted and was all set to go until a month before I was supposed to leave. And I ended up here instead.

I don’t regret my decision to come. If I hadn’t, I would be living in LA right now and finishing up my first year of law school. I would be two years away from a job and salary. Instead, I’m making no money, digging into my savings, and spend most of my time with small Honduran children and a slightly crazy group of international volunteers. It could not be a different lifestyle from the one I prepared for or imagined for myself. But I’m happy here. Constantly sweaty and covered in dust, but happy.

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What makes me happiest is teaching my kids. I love my kids. Like. I LOVE my kids. Here in Honduras, my best friends are 8 and 9 year old children. I’m not ashamed to admit it. They’re cool little people. I voluntarily spend time with them on weekends. I get invited to students’ houses for birthday parties, family dinners, and sleepovers. We have inside jokes and great conversations. I genuinely enjoy all of their company.

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Besides my students, there is also a certain freedom to living here that’s hard to explain. Men walk down the street with no shirts on, carrying machetes. Kids run around naked and play soccer in the street. I don’t worry about things I used to at home, like makeup or what I’m wearing. There’s dust everywhere so everyone’s always dirty anyways. Riding in the back of pickup trucks is a main form of transportation here, and there is something hilarious and freeing about being squashed into a back of a pickup truck with six other people and some chickens, bouncing around on dirt roads. On really, really hot days, there’s nothing to do but lay around in a river all day. People just don’t think about life here the same way they do in NYC. It’s not about work or rushing from one place to another. People just like to sit outside and talk to people walking by or who stop by for a minute to chat, drinking coffee and hanging out.

I didn’t expect to want to stay a second year, but for me, one year hasn’t been enough time. I’m not ready to leave my kids or the school. Next year, I’m staying in Honduras and will be the volunteer coordinator. I will be responsible for all of the volunteers, and to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified. It’s a lot of responsibility, and will require me to constantly use Spanish professionally, which often leaves me cringing internally as I hear myself butchering tenses. Law school will have to wait another year, but I can’t imagine ever regretting my decision to stay.

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-Liz, 3rd grade teacher