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.
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.
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.
-Liz, 3rd grade teacher