Yes, this is the right place for now.

Greetings. I am Tim Prewitt, from Corbin, Kentucky. A year ago, I was counting down the days I had left at my office job in the United States, before setting out for literally God knows where. These days I teach 4th grade and 9th grade English classes at Cofradia’s Bilingual School. I trust I’m in the right place for now.

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I find myself at CBS for a variety of reasons. First, I wanted to know Central America. As the calling to see and experience this part of the globe steadily increased within me over the past few years, I came to realize that a one-week vacation or two wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted to really spend some time here. To be precise, I hoped to connect and to really engage in the community wherever I was placed. I had other aspirations, too – such as trying my hand at something different than my construction management career, practicing my Spanish, working with youth, and living with others again, since I had been living alone for quite some time. As I searched online for a place that fit those parameters, CBS stood out. Once I made contact with the volunteer coordinator and applied and interviewed, I had complete faith that this was where I was being led for now.

I’ve been here for 3 months and it has been a very diverse experience. I felt led here in the first place, so I had to follow that urging. There is peace in that. But I must admit I’ve forgotten that detail a few times since arriving here, too. This is not always an easy place to be. There are a lot of highs and lows here. There are joys and frustrations; delights and disappointments. But when I look back on the reasons I had for coming here, I have certainly gotten what I came for. I have seen and experienced authentic Central America. Regarding community, I have had countless conversations with new friends and strangers alike. People have time for each other here. Also, I’ve seen the inside of more homes here in 3 months than I had in the past 2 years or so in the U.S. Some of the conditions here are a challenge, to be sure, but I’m growing as a result. The fruits of the spirit are always in season here. If I ever become a parent, I’ll be better equipped after this experience. That brings me to the kids at school. They impress me so much, with their eternal optimism and their honesty, generosity, and the way they look out for each other – not to mention their English abilities! As volunteers here, we get paid in hugs and smiles and laughs, but every day is payday in those currencies.

So here I am, taking things a day at a time – often one small blessing at a time. I’m grateful for each “Meester Tim!!!” that gets yelled my way and each time a student comes up for a handshake or a hug. That fills my cup. I smile even as I write about it. I’m here to teach, but also to learn. I’m thankful for the things I am learning here. I’ve worked with 3 different grades now, and the common thread between them all is the students’ caring for each other and their contentment with small things. It’s nice to see that. I’m rediscovering how simple life can be, and I certainly feel more alive than I did behind that desk and computer a year ago. Yes, this is the right place for now.

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I found myself incredibly homesick, but to my surprise, not homesick for Australia.

So, I get the pleasure of telling you all about the last 4 months of my life….here goes!

If you had of asked me in July when I finished my semester of uni what I thought I’d be doing for the rest of the year, never once would I have said teaching 2nd grade in Honduras! One of my best friends had been in Cofradia for a few years, and every time we’d skype she’d tell me about all the incredible things they’d been doing, or just about the craziness that is Honduras. I’m not usually one to make rash decisions, but something about going to Honduras just seemed to fit in my head after one of our skypes, and after hardly any thought on the matter, I messaged Dana and said I’m coming! Before I knew it I had deferred my uni for a year and started saving like crazy!

I’ll just put this out there, geography was never my strongest points, but when I made the decision to come to Honduras, I actually had no idea where it was. I knew nothing about the country except for the fact that my friend was there, and there was a class that needed a teacher. I decided to keep it that way, because I was excited for the adventure and surprise that lay ahead. Never could I have imagined the beauty and the kindness this country had to offer, and the amazing people that were about to enter my life.

My first few days were a bit rough! After 36 hours in transit (didn’t need a map at that point to realise it was a bloody long way away), I arrived in San Pedro Sula without any bags, and experienced my first dose of Honduran humidity. I also experienced my first day without running water, along with no power. I went to school the next day to meet my class, after 3 days of no showers, no clean clothes and looking like an absolute mess. But thankfully to these 7 year olds that stuff didn’t really matter, as long as you give them lots of hugs and smiles then you’re in their good books.

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But unfortunately, learning English isn’t all about hugs and smiles. And I definitely learnt this the hard way (as we all do) in the first few weeks where I was so incredibly overwhelmed with 30 kids, whose first language was not that of my own, and who all needed my attention….all at the same time! But again, as we all do, I managed to find my feet with the help of my incredible work mates, who are now my best mates, which without I would’ve been an inconsolable mess by the end of my first week.

My kids……well, where to even begin! Each day I get to see these amazing little humans learn confidence in themselves, that they can learn anything they allow themselves to, and that are capable of so much. These kids amaze me every single day, and I don’t think I could ever explain to someone how much love I have for them. The fact that even thinking about this right now as I write my blog has brought me to tears (the ugly kind), I know that leaving them in June is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I know they’re going to become incredible people, and being able to have had them, and all the kids at CBS in my life is something I’m so grateful for.

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For the Christmas holidays, most of the volunteers went home, but unfortunately Australia is a bit of a trek, so I decided to travel though a bit of Central America. After 4 weeks of traveling, I found myself incredibly homesick, but to my surprise, not homesick for Australia. I was homesick for Honduras, for the morning greeting by Don Chepe (our school guard), for the baleada lady who calls me “mi amor”, for Quique at the Pupusaria who is just a downright legend, and for all the amazing people who have become such a huge part of my life. That’s not to say that I don’t miss my life back in Australia, I always long to see my family, to hug them and know they’re ok, but I know that my life here is where I need to be for the time being, and they fact they are all so supportive is something I am so thankful for every day.

To sum it up, it’s been the most amazing rash decision I’ve ever made. My life has completely changed, and I have no idea how I’m going to be able to say goodbye to this incredible country and the amazing people in it come June! But for now, I’m going to enjoy my life here, continue to speak my terrible aussie bogan attempt at Spanish, eat as may baleadas as my heart desires, and make even more life long memories!

Miss Sophia

 

I want them to be as happy as they can possibly be, because that’s what they have given me.

Choosing to write a blog post about my experience at CBS is a daunting task, which is ironic for a ninth grade teacher who dishes out writing assignments to her class basically every week. However, I’ll give it a go and try my absolute best to convey just how precious CBS is to me.

At 19 years old I found myself in a position that I, strangely, never thought would come: I was finally finished college (or as we call it here in Montreal, cegep). I’m a relatively bright kid and I very much enjoy learning but for some strange reason the idea of eventually graduating seemed like an elusive detail of my life that someone else had scripted for me; I just stuck to one page at a time, never really giving much thought to the following chapters. Perhaps a funny or maybe even precarious way to live, but it’s just the way I go.

After having worked a while, my best friend and I decided to backpack through Honduras. Along the way, I met two very friendly people at a hostel. I had no idea that in a few months Andy and Dana would become my roommates, teammates and friends. Dana told me about a school she was volunteering at in Cofradia and everything she said about her involvement there resonated with me so deeply. Like myself, she was done with school for the meantime and was looking for something more (that means something totally different for everyone I suppose, but in a lot of ways I think it kind of means the same). Dana wrote me a letter with her coordinates and a few weeks later, I was back in Montreal.

Sometimes life gets a little stagnant. Personally, I was getting tired of the same monotonous routine and I felt like there was more that I could be doing with my time and my potential (everyone has it!!!) I remembered an opportunity I had been presented with a few months earlier in Honduras, and with this, I ran.

It never seemed that my departure from Montreal would be real until the night before I left. I felt anxious that I had made a big mistake. I was very sad to be leaving all the monotonous, mundane things that, up until very recently, I so eagerly wanted to get away from… go figure. My friends and family urged me to be brave, reassured me of my decision and the next day I was in a truck with Dana, on the way to my new home.

Many things about Cofradia make my heart beam. Simple things like lychees, fresh orange juice, the familiar music in a moto and the dreamy languor on the bus ride home from school with a coconut topoigo. The people of Cofradia make me happiest- like the kids on rollerblades who laugh and wave every time we pass each other in the streets, the lady at the pulperia with the sly smile who seems to know exactly what we’re up to, the incredible staff at CBS, and of course the wonderful students and their families.

The thing I admire most about Cofradia is the love I have received and the love I have witnessed. For every home I entered, I left with a full belly of food. For every day I taught at CBS, I was rewarded with the tightest hugs. For every class I substituted for, I was handed numerous love letters and adorable cards. For every morning I walked through the porton at school, I was greeted with smiles and hot coffee. For every failed assignment or misunderstood instruction, I was shown a determination to do better from so many students that still leaves me in awe.

In my opinion, the students at CBS are awesome and they deserve all the best the world has to offer. I have come to love them so much and

The fact of the matter is that by learning English and improving their linguistic skills they will have more opportunities that will open more doors for them. So, if you can, come teach at CBS because I sincerely cannot think of a good enough reason not to. Hopefully, I will meet you soon!

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

 

My Experience in Cofradía

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Hello! My name is Doireann and I was a short-term volunteer at CBS this August/September. My time in Cofradía couldn’t have been better. There were definitely hard parts (a moment of silence for the top layer of skin from my sunburned nose – gone but never forgotten) but I remember every night before I went to bed looking back over a great day and every morning I woke up looking forward to another one. By the time I had no more days in Cofradía to enjoy, I really felt like I had settled in, made close friends and acquired a real love for teaching the second and ninth graders.

Before I talk about the actual teaching I’ll mention all the concerns I had before coming so that anybody else considering going with these same fears can have some reassurance:

  •   Before spending time at CBS I was concerned about whether volunteering as a teacher would be an ethical decision. To anyone who is concerned by the criticisms volunteering abroad can be subjected to, I would say that to CBS they are not applicable. You deal directly with the school rather than any fee-driven volunteer agency and so by cutting out the middleman, and the fact that there is no volunteer fee, you can be sure that your time is sought for the right reasons. You also can genuinely be helpful and make a positive impact even if you can only go short term like I did – by taking classes temporarily while long-term volunteers are away or by providing resource to struggling students you will always be busy and productive. I also really liked the fact that the staff at CBS is a mix of English speaking volunteers and Honduran teachers working as a team, under Honduran leadership. I think this gives the kids a great experience – a chance to learn English through exposure to native speakers but importantly the preservation of Honduran culture and tradition in school. CBS is a very happy place for the kids, their families and all the staff and could be for you too as a volunteer!
  • I was concerned about safety and the reputation Honduras has in that regard. In reality Cofradía felt safe at all times and I only had good experiences there. The fact that so many volunteers go back for a second, third or fourth trip is good evidence of how safe we feel there – my advice would be to be sensible and reasonable and not to dismiss the warnings out there about travelling to Honduras but at the same time definitely not to be afraid of travelling to Cofradía.
  • Lastly, I was a little worried about travelling so far from home on my own and I thought maybe I would be lonely once I arrived. It was the complete opposite in reality – the volunteer team felt like a second family of kind, hilarious, caring people and if you go on your own to Cofradía like me and don’t leave with a load of new mates I owe you a tenner. Now back to the teaching! I was second grade’s teacher for my first two weeks until their permanent teacher Sophia arrived from Australia. At the start it was a little tough – the language barrier complicated things and the heat tired out the kids (and me!) by the end of the day but I was surprised at how fast things fell into place and teaching became fun and fulfilling. The kids were just great. I really liked teaching this age as by the time they reach seven all their personalities are defined and unique, and they are energetic and excited as well as very capable of concentrating. They are a bright and cheery bunch and I am very jealous of Sophia having them for the year! I then moved on to teaching grade nine and had a really great time with them too – their sense of humour paired with their motivation made for a fun and stimulating atmosphere in class. Even when I was sure my lesson plans would challenge them too much they always surprised me with how capable they were in terms of their English abilities and in general with the intelligence they showed in how they approached our class discussions. I wish them all the best in their last couple of years at school and in everything they’ll go on to do afterwards!

Hopefully this blog post has been encouraging to you if you are thinking about travelling to CBS. I am so happy to have been a part of this special community and am eager to go back to Cofradía as soon as I can… maybe I’ll see you there!

All the Reasons Why

Hey everyone! It’s me talking about Cofradía’s Bilingual School again! Sorry, I just can’t help it.

I’m the volunteer coordinator for the school we lovingly refer to as CBS. As you can probably guess, that means it is my responsibility to find and recruit people willing to pack up some belongings, move to Honduras, and dedicate their time to working for free. I must admit, it is not always an easy task. That’s why this blog is about all (or at least a lot) of the reasons why I think people, or maybe even you, should come here.

The biggest reason is, of course, the kids. Volunteers at our school get to spend five days a week with clever, intelligent, funny, motivated students whom I can assure you never cease to surprise us in a variety of ways. I am currently at home in Canada for the summer and miss my kiddos so much that I think about them everyday, almost all day!

The second reason is that our volunteers really, truly, without a doubt in my mind have a positive impact in the lives of our students. Previously I would have said that I don’t like to simply assume I, or any other volunteer, is making a difference by being here. After 14 months in Honduras, that humility has completely faded. I see how happy our students are to be at school and I understand how learning English will benefit their futures. Simply having positive role models and a safe place is hugely beneficial for many of our students. Moreover, fluency in English will provide our students with many more opportunities than they would otherwise have through better paying jobs and a higher likelyhood of being accepted into university.

The last reason I would like to explain is that it will make you a better person. While volunteers work very hard and do not get paid, I often feel like we still manage to receive so much more than we give. Our students will motivate you to be the very best you can be. You will be faced with a challenge and work until you have a solution and with each of these accomplishments your confidence will grow. You will know true compassion and will develop a global perspective that will stay with you long after your time at CBS. I came to CBS as a naïve little girl and am now a (self-proclaimed) mature, world citizen who actually phones to book her own appointments and barely ever argues with her little brothers! I still have a lot of learning to do about life and a lot of growth to go through, but I know our school is the best place for me to do that.

Wait, I remebered more things! Our students will give you a reason to smile everyday, and that is a guarantee. We begin each of our weekly volunteer teacher meetings by sharing our “highlight of the week.” These vary from funny things our students have done that made us laugh to having a struggling student get 100% on a quiz. This has always been one of my favourite parts of the week and really goes to show how much we all love what we do here.

Ok, just one more! If you want, you can learn Spanish! The families from our school will give you many opportunities to practice by inviting you over for meals, taking you to the mountains to go swimming in rivers, or bringing you along to watch football games in the city. It’s the best!

To conclude all this craziness, volunteering in Honduras and at our school is the perfect way to become a better and stronger person, learn Spanish, gain undoubtedly beneficial experience, to see a beautiful part of the world, and also to get a great tan. We do not require our volunteer teachers to have previous experience or formal training. What I look for in applicants is passion, enthusiasm, motivation, and a willingness to learn and work hard. Although recruitment is not an easy task, I have faith that our incredible school will get the teachers it needs in order to provide our students with the education they deserve.

Maybe you’re one of them?

Dana B
Volunteer Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Teaching

There are so many things I could write about when it comes to my time in Honduras as it comes to an end. I’m trying to think of what I wish I could tell my past-self to prepare for my year at CBS.IMG_2160 - Copy (2)

Here are three tips I think every scared incoming teacher should know. Being a teacher ‘ain’t’ easy, but it’s incredibly worth the struggle for the sake of creating a better world, and a better you.

The learning curve for an unexperienced teacher was brutal. Before arriving I earned a 120-hour TEFL certification online, and I thought I had a good idea of what I’d be doing in-class for the next ten months. The value of hands-on learning for teachers, however, is insurmountable. Please be ready to accept change to your classroom on a daily basis. You will constantly be making discoveries (especially in your first month) about how different modes of discipline work, how your students react to different things, and which activities succeed or fail. You will undoubtedly find yourself on google every day looking for tips and resources (our newly-implemented Cambridge and Trinity recommendations will work wonders in this way) and by the end of the first month you’ll probably be a completely different teacher. Open mindedness is never a bad trait. As a teacher, it can be a life-saver.
IMG_1961VOLUNTEER-TIP®: Meditating for 20 minutes some days helped me astronomically in taking a step back to develop a plan to continue. Any day you feel overworked, just relax anywhere you want, and repeat a mantra pertaining to your struggle. Perhaps, “[This] will not defeat me.” or “I am totally awesome for being here.” could work.

Lesson planning for the first month or so (and still after a year to an extent) was very difficult. I consider myself a fairly self-conscious teacher who’s rather sensitive to how effective my lessons can be. When you’re overly-sensitive to how effective a lesson is, you start to become dismissive of every suggestion you hear or read. Japan, one of the most educations countries in the world (usatoday.com) has an educational system revolving around lectures and book work. Not exactly the most compelling classrooms, but students end up learning nonetheless. My point is, no lesson is IMG_1385 - Copy (2)a bad lesson, unless someone dies. If I was capable of understanding “tough love” in the classroom, I would have been so much more comfortable making lesson plans simply because it leaves you with more options when you’re comfortable being a little boring, at times, for the sake of education. The children are the ones who primarily should work while in class, not you. You only facilitate.
VOLUNTEER-TIP®: From my experience, the moment you put your image in front of the source material is when you stop being a teacher. Moans and grunts of displeasure upon learning the assignment WILL BE DAILY occurrences no matter what you do. Instead of thinking how it can be more fun, think of how it can be more educational (which doesn’t always entail ‘fun’). That’s vague, I know, but you got this.

Patience in the classroom will be tested every day, and it can often times seem unbearable. Think back to your own primary school days. Can you remember an instance in which a teacher went bonkers, and raised their voice loud enough to hear it tomorrow morning? Chances are you can remember at least one, and probably multiple times you’ve seen it. Understanding that it happens doesn’t make it acceptable, but it’s important to understand you’ll be tested and tried in the same way those teachers were.
IMG_1283 - CopyVOLUNTEER-TIP®: When all patience seems lost, grab a flashlight and look for said patience under desks and bookshelves. No, seriously. Do that. You’ll probably have to teach your kids the word patience at the beginning of the year, but this is a much better alternative way of showing your kids they’re getting on your nerves a little too much. When you find your patience, don’t forget to tell your kids that is you lose your patience again, you may go CrAzY and give everybody detention next time.

In conclusion, it’s a no-brainer that being a teacher isn’t easy. I would tell my parents before coming that “I expect Honduras to be the hardest year of my life.” but I didn’t really understand how or why or when or for how long or… It was hard. It’s okay to not be okay, but remember it’s not okay to fight in the dark. The people here (like Ms. Dana) will help you in any way you need to dropkick your problem. Teachers love helping teachers.

Still, though, you got this. If I can do it (which I was astonished I could) then you can, too.

Mr Noah, 3rd Grade Teacher.

Top Cofradia Moments

So the year is all but done.  This is the fourth time I’ve left this place and it never seems to get any easier.  The kids were all asking if I was going to cry again, such is my reputation at this time of year.

As something special comes to an end it’s natural to look back and reminisce.  I’ve been doing a lot of this recently and so thought that for my last blog I’d run through some of my Top Cofradia Moments.  Cutting the list down is difficult and I’m positive that I’ll remember something else after this is posted that I should have included.

So without further ado, here´s five of my favourite  Cofradia memories:

Mother´s Day Concert

Mother’s Day has never been too big in my family (sorry mum) so it surprised me when I arrived here how seriously it’s taken.  Every year the school puts on a Mother’s Day concert and all the mothers of the students get all dolled up and come along.  It’s very much high on the list of the social calendar.  In previous years my students have sang songs from The Beatles to Bruno Mars but this year 10th grade was very ambitious and sang Queen’s Bohemian Rhap19141441_10155350899013965_1608547227_nsody.

I knew from the first practice that it was going to be either a disaster or a triumph and luckily it was definitely the latter.  They all got in to it and I felt like a proud parent watching them belt it out.  It also helped improve their vocabulary, though not sure how often they’ll need to use “scaramouche” or “bismillah” in their speech.

 

THAT football game 

My third graders a few years back had been pestering me to organise a football game with another school in the town.  For an entire week before the game I’d find pieces of scrap paper scribbled with different formations, tactics and predictions all over the classroom. To say the kids were a tad excited is the understatement of the century.

I did my best to tell them how winning wasn’t the most important thing and that they had to show good sportsmanship but if I’m completely honest I couldn’t stop myself getting carried away with them.  The morning of the game there was high fives and fist bumps going on everywhere but the other school took an early lead.

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Watching my little third graders all encouraging each other and digging deep was something really quite emotional to watch and in the dying minutes when the ball bounced off the head one of my least athletic kids to win the game I couldn’t help letting out a few fist pumps of my own.

I can still hear the hysterical, ‘CBS ARE THE BEST’ chants on the walk back to our school.

CBS alumni 

Cofradia the type of town that you pretty much bump in to someone you know every time you leave your house.  This year I bumped in to a former student of CBS who’s now 18.  It’s always nice to catch up with old students and hear all about what they’re doing now.  It turns out that this girl has been offered a scholarship to go  to a university in the USA and leaves to study in August. She was very excited about travelling somewhere new and studying.  She explained to me that without the education she received at CBS and the work of the volunteers, she doesn’t think she would have been able to get an opportunity like this.

After giving so much time here, it was so encouraging to see a real individual story of how the work we do down here does make a concrete difference to people’s lives.

Sailing in Belize

Volunteering in Honduras has given me lots of opportunities to explore and travel during vacations.  Of all these trips, the one that stands out the most has to be the 3 day sailing trip in Belize.

A few years back me and another volunteer hopped on a few chicken buses and boats and ended up on Caye Caulker in Belize (if you imagine a stereotypical Caribbean island and then imagine the ocean being a little more blue and life a little slower-paced you’re almost there.) From there we took a sailing trip down the coast back towards Honduras. The days were spent snorkelling with turtles and spear fishing and the nights were spent camping on tiny islands and grilling our days catch.19075414_10155350898853965_613455091_n

I came to Honduras for the school, I stayed for the grilled lobster!

Surprise party      

The first time I left Honduras I was picked up at my house by one of my students’ families on my last day and taken to a restaurant where the entire class was waiting to surprise me. I’d been so upset and down about leaving and so the party really helped cheer me up before I had to leave.  There was lots of cake and they’d all been practicing some songs to sing for me which was just the cutest thing.

Leaving is always hard but when you get memories like this to take with you it’s that little bit easier.  I’m already excited for the new highlights the next time I come back.

Mr James, Serial Volunteer

I’m coming home, but I’m leaving home

Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t bear the thought of leaving Honduras and this school in just over a month.  In 2015 I took one year of unpaid leave from my teaching job in Australia with the intention to teach for 9 months and travel for a further 3. That was almost two years ago.  During my first year teaching here I decided that there was more here for me so I asked for another year of leave, which luckily I got!  And with only 3.5 weeks left of school, I am trying to come to terms with leaving.

 

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My 15th birthday celebrated 12 years late with my students

 

My decision to volunteer came about due to a few factors: 1. I have always wanted to volunteer in a country less fortunate than my own, 2. I was exhausted from the demands of the education system in Australia, 3. I had nothing but my puppy (Chester) to tie me down at home (don’t worry he is safe and sound living with my mum and I skype him regularly!).  It has honestly been the best decision of my life.  The students and their families at CBS will teach you more than you can ever dream of knowing.  One of my best little buddies from 1st grade, whom I taught last year when he was in prepa, has taught me that no matter what you have you can be the happiest kid ever.  We play football ‘Honduras v Australia’ on his cement front porch every time I visit.  His goal is between a plant and the stairs and my goal is between two marks on the wall.  We play with a plastic ball that has many dints in it, but this boy is so happy.  There is no need for a phone, a computer or an iPad, just a ball and someone to play with.  Oh and by the way last time Australia lost 32 to Honduras’ 100.

 

My older students are much like any teenager you will meet.  DSC03375 (2)Yes we occasionally (very rarely now) butt heads due to typical teenage attitudes, but the respect that the students have for me and I for them is very clear.  Today in 10th grade I was talking to a couple of the students about exams coming up and that lead us into a discussion about when I was leaving.  One student said ‘Miss, I think I am going to cry when you leave’, my response was ‘I know I am going to’.  The students appreciate their education so much and grow to love each and every volunteer teacher that they have.  I was out to dinner last night with a few of the other volunteers and one of my 11th grade students was walking nDSC03467earby and came over to say hi.  He gave me a big hug and we had a chat about the day.  If students, their families or people that know you see you while you are out and about they will yell out the side of a moto taxi, run across the supermarket to hug you or come over for a chat.  I have been invited to the mountains, the beach, the movies, to eat at people’s houses and on other excursions with my students and their families.

 

I’m not going to lie there are a few things that I won’t miss!  The cold showers in winter, in summer they are a blessing, but stepping into the shower when it is freezing, I will not miss that- hello hot water in Australia!  I also will not miss being dirty ALL the time.  My students told me to wear socks and Crocs the other day because ‘Miss your feet are sooooo dirty’.  That is a fashion crime in Australia but here it is acceptable.  After that conversation I even looked into buying a pair of Crocs, but no I couldn’t do it.

 I have learnt and grown so much in my time here at CBS.  The students will teach you so, so much.  If you are reading this because you want to volunteer for us, do it, the experiences that you will have are unbelievable!  I know that I am a better person because of what I have experienced here. 

Miss Sarah, 10th and 11th Grade teacher