Wildlife

The other day I was showing my class some nuclear energy videos outside, (due to a power cut) and a large lizard decide to play peekaboo with my kids through a hole in the wall. A few days later, a small brown lizard was chilling in one of my student’s hair. She just brushed it off.  There are also baby pigeons in some classrooms, geckos and lizards running around, and of course a rainbow of butterflies in the school. If you love birds, reptiles and insects (taking pictures of them), then you will certainly encounter them wherever you go here.  So, I am going to keep it short this time and just show you some pictures I’ve snapped in my time here:
The butterflies are absolute beauties and my images don’t even represent the full spectrum of what you can find here.
The birds are wonderful too. While waiting for the bus home, I watch the hummingbirds come to feed on the hibiscus bushes at the school.
If you peek around the back of the school kitchen you can find reptiles of all shapes. And a soft cat at the pulperia near the school.
Oh and piles of trash are pretty common here too. Unfortunately.
I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more creatures to take pictures of and post to my instagram. Until then!

 

Miss Andreea, 5th grade teacher

Who’d have thought, back again?

I’ve had a few rough months recently and in October I decided to move to the South of Italy to teach English, hoping it would give me a fresh start.  The job was fine and the town, just a hop, skip and jump away from Pompeii, was beautiful, but still I couldn’t quite snap out of the rut I was in.  I tried sticking it out and ended up staying for around 4 months but I began to realise in January that it wasn’t the place I needed to be.  So one day in mid-January I handed in my notice and booked a one-way flight to Honduras.  I was going back to the place I’ve spent the best, most meaningful and most enjoyable years of my life…..CBS.

I first came to CBS as a volunteer in January 2011 and had intended on staying 6 months as a stop-gap between travelling.  Within a month I’d decided to return the following year and ended up leaving 2 years later.  In those years I fell in love with the kids, the town and the country and when I eventually had to leave, it truly felt like I was leaving home.
I’ve only been back one week.  On the flight over I was nervous that it wouldn’t be the same.  I worried that things would have changed or that I’d been wearing rose-tinted glasses since I left.  Luckily all these worries were completely unfounded.  The moment I got back to the school I felt very much at home again.
The little 2nd graders I taught when I first arrived are now not-so-little 8th graders.  Some of them are about the same height as me, which was great to see, however there is a down-side since they now realise that I’m actually terrible at football and the only reason I seemed really good before was because I was triple their size!
After speaking with them I was even more excited because their English has gotten so good and we can talk in a more grown-up way.  I’m getting to know them better now as individual, young people rather than the playful kids they were before.
I have so much to thank these kids for and now I’m able to explain that to them.  I can now tell them that they helped give me the best years of my life and that they’re also the reason I fell in love with teaching and decided to pursue it as a career after I left.
Despite only being back for a week I’m glad to say that I’m well and truly out of my rut and I’ve got my mojo back.  I don’t know why I was nervous about returning because this place has always been a happy place for me.  It’s a place where I feel like I’m making a difference, a place where I’m always learning, a place that has given me relationships and friendships I’ll keep forever, a place that always gives me a great tan and, more importantly, it’s a place that always feels like home.
Most people, like I did, come to volunteer here to make a difference and help people less fortunate than themselves.  If you volunteer here, you’ll certainly be doing these things, but just remember that the kids here might end up helping you just as much as you help them.
Mr James, Master of Resource

Reactions to Volunteering

There’s this conversation that I’ve had repeatedly with some of the volunteers over the years.  I’ve tried to write it down before, but it comes out sounding either conceited or self-deprecating and I can never quite seem to get the words right.  So please forgive me if this sounds clumsy.

When you tell people that you’re a volunteer teacher in Honduras, there are two main reactions.  “Oh my gosh, you are saving the world! You are changing lives!” is the first one.  The second one is “But how much are you really helping?  It’s just one class in one school in one community in one country.”  Both are valid responses, but seem to miss the point of the whole thing.

I’m not saving the world.  I don’t have any delusions of grandeur that I am.  I do not pull babies out of burning buildings with the power of English.  I don’t believe that I am personally changing the lives of every student in my class.  I am only a small part of the school.  However, the school does change lives.  The education the kids receive has the potential to change their lives, but in the long term.  These students can go on to get better jobs and provide better futures for their parents or their kids.  They also get to spend time with an adult who really cares about them every day for a few hours.  For some of them, there is no one supportive at home and having stable adults in their lives can help get or keep them on the right path.

While we’re not changing lives on a daily basis, I do believe we help.  The volunteers are here every day.  We show up and work every single day, often taking our work home with us or tutoring after school.  We tie shoes, clean up skinned knees, give out plenty of hugs and love, and listen to small children tell long, rambling stories.  We make sure kids have food and are there for them when there are problems at home.  We teach the best we can, and we really love these kids.

The volunteers here, past, present and future, together can change the lives of the students we work with, but only as a group.  The same way that most kids can’t learn English in one year, one volunteer for one year does not change the lives of these kids.  It’s the fact that we have volunteers come every year and work hard that helps these kids.  We need every volunteer we get.  We do not get millions of applications or people knocking down our gate to come and teach.  We search and search for people to come and usually continue recruiting the whole year because we never have a full team.  The people who do come work their butts off and give their all to these kids day in and day out.

The point of the whole thing is that I’m the lucky one.  No one reacts to “I’m a volunteer teacher in Honduras” by telling me “Wow, you’re so lucky to be able to do that.”  But that’s how I feel.  I am lucky enough to be in a financial situation where I am able to volunteer.  I am lucky that I have supportive parents who, when I told them that I wanted to move to Honduras, did not react in shock and horror, and who have continued to support me through my almost 3 years here.  And more than anything, I’m lucky to get to spend my time with some amazing kids and the most incredible families here. I’m content with the idea that I might not be changing lives, but am happy just to help in some small way with my work.  I’m not saving the world, but my time here, added to a whole lot of time with from other volunteers, can help these kids have a better future.  And that’s what I believe in and why I wake up every day and come into work.

Miss Liz, Kinder Teacher and Volunteer Coordinator