I don’t subscribe to the notion that people have one home and are simply either away from home or at home. Let me explain; My first home is Faro, Yukon, a small town with a population of 400 people in Northern Canada, where I grew up and wh
ere my parents continue to live. My second home is Orange in New South Wales, Australia where I spent a year as an exchange student during grade 11. Now, at the age of 19, I am incredibly happy to announce that I have a third home. That’s right, Cofradia, Cortes, Honduras!
The initial plan for my trip to Honduras was to work at Cofradia’s Bilingual School for just one month. It was during my Skype interview with the volunteer coordinator that I decided a month would not be long enough and asked if I could stay for three. She said yes and offered me a position as a resource teacher. Two weeks before I was due to arrive I received an email asking if I would be willing to instead teach grade one. So here I am, living in Honduras and teaching a class of 28 absolutely wonderful, lovable, crazy first graders.
My first day teaching can be best described as ‘hectic.’ I had a carefully thought-out lesson plan written down and memorized which very quickly fell apart. As I had only somewhat anticipated, I felt completely in-over my head. I have worked with kids previously as a swim instructor, ice-skating coach, and even as a substitute teacher, however, nothing had prepared me for this. I watched on in horror as kids, whose names I had yet to learn, talked over top of me instead of listening or hid under desks and wandered outside instead of looking at the board. At the end of the day, despite feeling like I had completely failed my students, all 28 of them gave me big hugs or high-fives before leaving. It is very hard
to explain just how uplifting so many hugs and high-fives from little, smiling faces can be after a trying day. Needless to say, although tired and hot, I was not discouraged.
With the help and advice from the previous grade one teacher, the following days got better and better. By the end of the week I had established a routine, learned the names of all my students, and figured out which terms they knew and which ones they did not. I have now been teaching for five weeks and still each day, with the occasional exception, seems to run smoother than the last. I must admit I feel quite the sense of accomplishment when I say “hands on your head” and a choir of little voices shouts back “bums in your chairs” and then waits intently for me to speak, except of course for the few boys who are still giggling about the word bum.
When I arrived in Cofradia I did not think that I would have much of a social life, however, it has been quite the opposite. My housemates are great and we spend plenty of time together just chatting or eating pupusas or making trips to the supermarket or watching football and sometimes all of the above. I have made some Honduran friends as well. I feel very lucky to have friends who are from here because I have gotten to do a lot of things I do not imagine I otherwise would have. These have included spectating some strange horse game that I am still unsure exists anywhere else in the world, relaxing at a swimming pool I did not know existed, riding in the back of a pick up truck through the mountains, trying fruits I have never heard of before, and eating snails (which I was unaware I was doing until after). I have also joined a crossfit gym and although I skip more often than I am proud to admit due to the heat or having other plans, it’s always great when I actually do go.
I know that at the end of my three months in Honduras I will not be ready to leave my new home. Everyday I continue to be motivated and inspired by so many of the students at CBS and their eagerness to learn and willingness to work hard. Everyday I become more certain that this is exactly where I am meant to be and that my work here will not be done when my time in Honduras is. Everyday I become more confident in my decision to come back for another year.
Until next time,
First Grade Teacher