But regardless, I set my fears aside and set off.

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Hi, my name is Ashley and I am the third grade teacher here at Cofradia’s Bilingual School. I am from a small rural town in Alberta, Canada and am 19 years old. I arrived in Honduras just over 2 months ago now and I couldn’t say that any other place has ever felt like home as quickly as it has here. Originally coming to Honduras, I was only supposed to be a short-term volunteer, and left home in August and came back on November 5th.

When I first read about CBS, I was immediately interested and knew that it was something I couldn’t pass up and seemed like it was just the right fit for me. Yet the closer my departure date got, the more panicked I became. Before coming to Honduras, I had never travelled on my own, let alone left home for more than 2 weeks. To say that I was terrified of the decision I had made is an understatement. But regardless, I set my fears aside and set off.

The atmosphere of Cofradia is like nothing I’ve experienced before and very different from what I imagined. Although things are very different than the living conditions I was accustomed to, after only three days I began to fall in love with everything the town has to offer. From the beautiful view of the mountains, to the amazing culture and food I have never experienced something like it before.

The school itself and the students there continue to amaze me every single day. The amount of appreciation and gratitude that you feel from teaching these kids is something I will never forget. Looking back on my first few days here in Honduras I remember talking to some of the other volunteers and having them tell me that I should stay longer than 3 months and finish the year with them. At this point I laughed and told them repeatedly that it would be nice to stay but that there would be no way I could leave my family, my friends, and everything I knew back home for that long. Aaand now, here we are! I will be going back in January to finish off the year with third grade!

Even though I am only going to be gone for 2 months, and I’ve only been here for 2 and a half months, the thought of leaving my new friends and my students breaks my heart! The other volunteers have made my experience a million times better and made the transition way easier. They are so supportive and always willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed. Being able to be around like-minded people who have the same goals as you, is truly a comforting feeling. The students also never fail to make me smile, and are so sweet. They truly can turn your day around with just a smile and a hug. It truly only takes a couple of hours of getting to know them to see how amazing each and every one of them are.

So, all that being said, if you have ever considered volunteering abroad, or if you haven’t, I would so strongly recommend coming to CBS. Whether it’s for 2 weeks, 2 months or heck 2 years, I guarantee it is not something you will ever regret. Not only will you be able to meet a mix of really awesome volunteers you will always be able to call your family, but you will also get to meet some of the most incredible students and families who will welcome you into their homes with so much gratitude. This is truly an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have been able to come here and am so excited to go back!

To sum everything up, I love it here.

I cried the day I got to Honduras.

I was in a panic because I didn’t know what address to put down on my immigration card. I was tired, overwhelmed, and downright terrified. I was sure I had made a terrible mistake and wanted to get back on the next plane to Canada. I even went as far as to call my mom internationally and freak out to her on the phone. As it turns out, Cofradia doesn’t have real addresses, and the airport officials didn’t take a second glance at my card. During my panic attack, the very nice Honduran man who had been sitting next to me on the flight came over and checked to make sure I was okay, then proceeded to give me his business card so that I could call him if I ended up having any problems. It was my first taste of the kindness and hospitality that I’ve come to associate with Honduras. 40 minutes later, I was sitting in a pickup truck with two friends I hadn’t seen in years, eating lychees, unable to stop smiling, and laughing at the mess I had been earlier.

That was the first time I cried in Honduras, but it was nowhere near the last.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a crier, even at home in Canada, but it has definitely been enhanced since I’ve been here. Other things I’ve cried over in my 4 months here include: the water not running, the water running, frustration over a failed lesson, joy over a great lesson, feeling like my students weren’t understanding something, watching my students work quietly without instruction from me, volunteers leaving, volunteers agreeing to stay longer… I think you get the picture. There have been tears of frustration and sadness and homesickness, but more often there have been tears of joy and gratitude and love. Sometimes I find myself welling up on bus rides because I get so fixated on how appreciative I am to be here, and how truly happy this life makes me.

Now that you understand what a sap I am, I’ll give you a little background information about me and how I came to CBS. I have a similar story to many that I read on this blog before I decided to come teach, I was in my third year of university when I got a message from Dana, our volunteer coordinator who I had previously worked at camp with, asking some friends to put up posters advertising for the school. It took me a whole 30 minutes of looking at the website and reading blog posts to decide that I wanted to come here. My program was interesting, but I wasn’t getting any real life experience and had been feeling very stagnant in a lecture hall. After being here for 4 months, I can confidently say I made the best decision possible. Of course I had some reservations about it, was Honduras safe? What would my family say? Was I really qualified to be teaching children? To answer these questions for anyone else who has them: As long as you take the proper precautions, Honduras is safe. It’s no scarier than the seedy bits of my university town. My wonderful parents’ reactions were “that’s a great idea, we think you should do it!”. As for teaching, I’m definitely not “qualified” in the sense that I’ve never taught before now, but as long as you are passionate, willing to learn, and put in your best effort for these kids, it’s enough. I’ve come miles from the teacher I was at the start of September to now, and I’m excited to see what kind of teacher I’ll be in June. As you teach, you learn more and more what works with your students and what doesn’t, how best to structure a lesson, and what behaviour system works for you. The learning curve is steep, and it takes a few weeks to know what you’re doing, but it’s a great feeling once you do.

I realize this hasn’t really been a blog about life here, it’s been more about the feelings you get from being here, but I think they are the most important thing to convey to you. Yes, some days we don’t have running water, or electricity, and we do all our dishes and laundry by hand, and it’s really hot or really rainy, but none of that ends up mattering. The only thing that matters is the fact that I would take all of the hardships that come with living here over all of the comforts of home in a heartbeat.

To sum everything up, I love it here, and if you’re reading this considering coming to volunteer, you should do it. Even if you’re just reading this for fun, you should come here. Everyone should come here and volunteer for at least a short time, because I promise you won’t be walking away the same after. So yes, I cried the day I got to Honduras, but I know without a doubt I’ll be crying harder the day I leave.

– Miss Lara, 6th Grade Teacher