Short-term Volunteering in Cofradia – I Have to Leave in a Week!

Because I am only a short-term volunteer – just three weeks – this blog entry will be short and sweet.

 I admit I may still be in the “honeymoon period” but I am honestly loving it here.  I love the town, the school and the students, and the other volunteers.  I feel like it took me about two days to feel right at home here.

 One of my favorite things here has been exploring Cofradia.  The thing about Cofradia is that there are no street names, at least as far as I can tell.  You have to figure out directions by really observing your surroundings.  You have to remember the landmarks:  the bright green pulperia… the bright yellow house with the Minnie Mouse painted on it… the purple house with the hammocks… the orange house with the little old lady who is always sitting on her rocking chair… the corner with all the cows and chickens… the guys selling roasted corn in front of the church…the baleada place…  And one of my favorites, the “thrift store”.  Not what you might picture; it is a house with well-organized piles of clothes set out on the sidewalk in front.  But you can get some great deals there.

 The school and the students are hard for me to describe without sounding cliché.  Two weeks is not nearly enough time to really truly know my students, but I’m already feeling like they are indeed, “my” students. Teaching here is not easy.  I have taught for many years in the USA, and my experiences here have really made me appreciate the resources I have there.  But it’s a challenge I welcome.  Right now, there is no teacher for the 8th and 9th grades so those are the grades I am covering.  My experience has mostly been with elementary, so 8th and 9th are not the grade levels I am most comfortable with. Or at least I thought I wasn’t.  But now I can’t imagine not teaching those kids.  Each and every one of them.  The cliché word I am trying to avoid is “rewarding”, but I think in the end I just can’t avoid it.

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8th grade students

 And finally, I want to say some things about the other volunteers. They are spending months and even years here.  I have huge respect for them. They work so hard and obviously care immensely for their students.  But they all still took the time to answer my many questions about, well, about everything.  And despite my being old enough to be a mother to any one of them (and if I’m quite honest with myself, a grandmother to a couple of them) they still made me feel very welcome.  We have fun too.  There is an interesting mix of backgrounds.  Right now, the house has volunteers from the USA, Canada, England/Eastern Europe (that’s the same person), Scotland and Australia.  And Luna the dog, who is a native Honduran.    There are definitely some unique personalities here (which I mean in a good way), there have been some lively discussions, and interesting senses of humor.  Or, in the interest of international goodwill, senses of humour. Despite what spellcheck is trying to tell me.

 As I read back on this, my first ever blog, I realize it is not so short after all.  There is certainly a part of me that is taking that to mean that it wouldn’t be so bad if my stay here also wasn’t quite so short. Well, we shall see what the future brings!

Mrs Linda, Short term volunteer teacher for 8th and 9th grades

#1 Decision

There is no other place that I would rather be!  Sure, life here comes with small struggles, but it is 100% worth every single minute.  I decided to come to CBS, for one year, almost two years ago and I am now in my second school year here and dreading the end coming in July, when sadly my leave from work in Australia runs out. 

I started packing my bags in April 2015 to leave Australia towards the end of September 2015.  I, of course, over packed trying to prepare myself for all situations.  I was recently diagnosed with Coeliac disease (not able to eat any food containing wheat, oats, barley or rye) and I have had type one diabetes (insulin dependent) for just over 10 years. Most importantly I was packing my diabetes supplies to ensure I could get through the year with enough supplies and extras if anything happened!

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Insulin for a year!

I packed 120 pump sites, 15 boxes of 100 blood testing strips, an extra pump (one of the reps from the company that my pump was through said it would probably be an issue if anything happened to it while I was here), 3 different blood glucose meters, ketone strips in case I got sick, enough insulin for the year (I am still using that halfway through my second year here) and the list could go on and on.  In the end one of my 2 big bags was practically all diabetes supplies, with a couple of Cadbury chocolates stuffed in the side in case there wasn’t any great chocolate here!  Realistically I was a massive worry wart because living here with diabetes is no different to being at home, except when I want a little advice from my awesome network of friends (& Angels) back home I need to wait a while until they are awake as we are 16 hours behind Australian time here.

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My diabetes angels in Australia

The food is good too.  I did get a little bored with rice and corn tortillas after a few months, but then I was introduced to a supermarket in San Pedro Sula that has a whole gluten free (GF) section. Of course it is expensive, a bit more then back home, but it has some great food that gives me a little break from the rice and corn diet occasionally.  Recently one of my good friends and house mates from last year visited and he brought down 4 different packets of GF baking mixes.  Thanks Avery, you rock!  When visiting student’s houses we are always given food, all of the families are so kind and understanding of what I can and can’t eat.  I can now explain in Spanish that ‘I can’t eat anything that contains wheat flour because it makes me sick’, because one of my students gives me Spanish class.  

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Shopping!

Yes, I have talked food and ailments in this entry rather than about the experiences at school, because if you are reading this and are considering coming and have anything that you are worried about like this, it really is no problem and the school is amazing as you can read in other posts!  I am a strong believer in doing whatever I put my mind to and like to try and treat every obstacle like a positive challenge.  Being here in Cofradia is the best decision of my life!

Miss Sarah, 10th & 11th grade teacher