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