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.


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.



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

Blog #1

Hello readers! This won’t be the blog you’re expecting, it’s not really a blog at all.  A photo gallery more or less. 🙂 I have avoided writing one of these for the last nine months and I’ve managed to do so up until now.  So, let me give you a short introduction before I fill your time with pictures of adorable children.  My name is Taylor and I am 23 years old.  Last August I made the decision to come to lovely Honduras to teach English with my adventurous boyfriend Graham.  I am a 3rd Grade Teacher who has fallen in love with every little face in my class.  So much so, I recently decided I wasn’t done with them.  Next year, (if all goes as planned) Graham and I will be the new 4th Grade Teachers at CBS.

My time in Honduras has changed my life forever.  I am unbelievably fortunate to have stumbled across an opportunity like the one we were given.  I encourage anyone and everyone who has ever even thought about doing something like this to take that leap of courage for a day, a week, a month (or even a year here at CBS 😉 ) and do it.  But in all seriousness, it is amazing what life and this world have to offer if you keep your eyes and heart open to it.

Now, time for some pictures of my year here! & maybe a few of my dog Luna.. She’s Honduran it’s relevant I promise😉.

Miss Taylor, 3rd Grade Teacher




Thoughts from a Scot

I really wish that I was better at written English, not only would I be a better teacher, but this blog would be so much easier to start. I have already deleted my intro several times so I am going to stick with this one. Today I want to egotistically talk about myself, but at the same time try to give an understanding of what has kept me in Honduras for 2 years and what will see me coming back for a 3rd year next year. To start, I am going to talk a little about my past.

When I was in school I did pretty well on my exams without really putting in much effort. I left school with good results and managed to get in to a really good course at a really good university. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready for the amount of freedom I had and although I passed my first 2 years without much hassle, I really did not have the drive or the passion to finish my degree and left because it was the easiest option and I didn’t want to think about the serious world of having a career, settling down etc.

After leaving, I went in to a series of jobs where I didn’t put in much effort and didn’t achieve anything significant, I just couldn’t get passionate about any of them and didn’t feel I wanted to improve myself to get better. Fortunately, I was able to save a bit of money and that allowed me to travel through Australia and New Zealand for a few years before returning to the UK and living in London for a few more and then heading to Laos to work with some amazing people and students. I loved living in new places but again I was a perennial under achiever, I never excelled at anything I did and I don’t think I helped anyone else along the way either. I really was just going through life without any direction and without any plan and although I was having a lot of fun, it could have been so much more.

On the other hand, I was fortunate enough to meet a few people along the way who I learned so much from and who helped me become a much better human than I was when I was younger. I am so grateful that those people came in to my life at various points and so happy that they are still there.

Ok, so that is my life story over, sorry if it is a little gloom and boring, I just needed to write it to set up how differently I feel now. I am still a massive underachiever in so many areas. I have pretty much no possessions, I don’t have a house, a car, a laptop, money or a decent wardrobe. I am still unable to cook, I am still unable to do standard repair jobs around a house or use Microsoft word effectively, BUTTTTTTT, finally some positivity, I have helped 27 kids improve their English and not just a little bit, in the most part, a massive bit.

I really don’t want to appear arrogant or that I think I am the world’s best teacher, I am far from that, but I can’t emphasise how proud I am of where the kids I teach are right now. When I started teaching these guys 18 months ago, I struggled massively (refer to my previous blog for info), I felt like I wasn’t helping them, I felt that I was letting them down massively and that I was failing like I had at every other job I ever had, but unlike other jobs, this time I didn’t give up. I worked hard every day to try and get better, I thought about these kids inside my head at least 12 hours a day and finally, I started to see it paying off. Now, after 18 months of hard work, they are getting unbelievably good at English.

I know that if they had another teacher it is more than possible that they could still be at the same level, but I still know that this is the greatest achievement of my life so far and the thing that I am most proud of up to this point. I still think about them all day every day, but now it is much less worrying and far more hope. I know that they are getting a far better education than I used to give them and I know that they are going to continue to develop and that I can help set them up for futures where they can fulfil the massive potential that they have. I really could not be prouder of them and they make me happy every day, even if they ask to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes and call me bald every time we write a sentence about Mr Andy.

For the above reasons, I don’t feel I can leave these guys just yet, I have so much more to give them and have so much more I can do to continue to improve myself as a teacher. I love that working hard here shows in such a clear and positive way. I can’t think of any other job I could be doing right now that could have such a potentially life changing effect on other people and the fact that it is for kids that I really do love makes it even better. To add to the good news, it is not just me doing this, the other teachers here are doing the exact same thing and working just as hard to help the young people they care so much about. CBS really does make a difference and I see it every day.


I don’t really know how to transition from this, so in my last paragraph I just want to thank everyone here who has helped me get to this point. I know I have a reputation here of not taking advice, but I promise that even if I don’t show it initially or I am resistant to the advice, it is still put in the back of my head and more often than not I eventually realise it is good advice, so keep doing it : ). So, thank you to all the teachers who have helped me here and I mean everyone from 2 week volunteers to the people who have been with me for the whole 2 years, I really do appreciate all of you guys.

 The End

Mr Andy, 2nd Grade Teacher

It’s the Small Things

                     Kids are so malleable and impressionable. My first grade students are hilarious. They like to mimic me; they copy what I say in the tone I say it and sometimes don’t have a clue what it is they are saying! They truly learn by example and soak up what they hear and see all around them. The repetitive actions that are displayed to them become their inner dialogue.  They really are a product of their environments which puts huge pressure on parents, family members and school staff to be excellent examples, role modeling the behavior in which we want our children to display. Providing a child with positive encouragement will pave the way for their own positive thoughts. By giving them small tasks they can succeed at and slowly increasing the degree of difficulty and having them continually improve allows kids to grow confidence.

             I am only here to teach these precious kids for one year. The amount of English I can give them is limited. Their English skills will continue to grow each year and teachers will help challenge them and assist with their ongoing education. On top of English skills, my goal has been to help establish a sense of self-worth in each of my kids by showing them that they are all valuable and special with a variety of different skills. I want to give my kids the seeds of self confidence that can continue growing within them long after we leave. It is so important to remember that there are always little ears and little eyes hearing what we say and watching how we treat others. Our actions speak louder than our words. I hope I can leave my class with more than just new English words. I want to leave them with tools to become the caring, compassionate, loving, generous humans of the future.

             To teach grade one has been an incredible ride. They can be rowdy and difficult at times yes but to witness the insurmountable joy they have over the tiniest of things, to literally see the light in their eyes, is an experience more valuable than gold. They have reminded me to see things again through the eyes of a child. When they are rewarded for great effort, they beam, when they get small prizes they are beyond exited, when they earn treats they scream with delight. If I draw a heart at the end of today’s date, they are all smiles.


            I have become aware that unconsciously over the last months I too have been finding great joy in the smallest of things.

            We spend a lot of time on busses here and they are a great way to see interesting things… On the bus ride to school every morning, one of my favorite things to see is all the ladies, young and old, out on the streets in front of their houses sweeping up previous days dust and debris. As much as shoveling snow is part of my Canadian blood, sweeping is part of the Hondurans. Vacuums are not a thing here and the dust is so ferocious that sweeping multiple times a day is a necessary chore. It makes me happy to see them maintaining order as best as they can.

            Another morning I saw an old white haired grandpa out watering a few plants in the front of his house. He was using a broken bucket but it got the job done.  His home was falling apart and nearly as old as he was but to see him put care and effort into his plants made my heart soar.  Today we were riding the bus home from SPS and they were blasting English music, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan and The Eagles. The other girls and I were in heaven singing along to classics we grew up listening to, remembering the memories  and people that were linked to all the songs.

            My class finds joy in the smallest of things and I think that although it is my job to teach them, they have retrained me to see the joy in all things even when it’s small. It is always there in every situation, sometimes you just have to change the filter you see things through to find it. Even when the world around us appears to be crumbling we must still take time to find our happiness. It is everywhere. 

Miss Pam, 1st Grade Teacher

This one’s a doozy

Blog number 2 here we go. Since I’ve last written, you have missed out on quite a bit. Being that I have a life that is certainly not dedicated to blogging (other than when my arm is twisted), you’ll only get a taste of the many great moments I’ve experienced here. That being said I’ll do my best to give you the juiciest stories I can muster. (Alright, I better think of some doozies now, no promises though).

We went to the mountain and that was fun. We went to some beaches and that was fun too. We also went to a big river in the jungle and that was very fun. I have had fun in Honduras…. (Okay okay I guess I’ll liven those up a bit).

 So, me and my girlfriend Taylor who’s also volunteering here have now been to the mountains 3 times with 3 different families. We really couldn’t be more grateful to those who have gone out of their way to ensure us with a spectacular visit. Each of the 3 areas we’ve seen have had their own beauty to offer. You might find yourself in a lush coffee field which in our case included a tremendous view of eye level clouds and little black specs which were tiny houses in the towns below. Here’s a helpful tip though, keep moving here or the fire ants will encourage you to do so. This gorgeous view comes with a price that some might call expensive and you can really only enjoy it for a certain amount of time. It’s up to you to decide how many bites is your view worth and I’m inclined to say you just might be surprised how long you let those little buggers harass you. The other two mountains we got the privilege of seeing were both equipped with equally great rivers to compliment them. Wow, was that water cold but I sure would jump right back in this second without thinking twice. I can imagine It’s hard to find water that’s more fresh than a spring fed river near the top of a mountain. There were small water falls, enormous rocks, and even a man-made dam which created a nice swimming area. The dam also allowed us to drain the water out enough to catch a few fish using only our hands and cat-like reflexes (I caught the biggest one in case you’re wondering. Not that I’m into gloating of course, just want you to get an accurate picture..). But if Taylor remembers correctly, she definitely caught the biggest fish. Oh and I’m a turd – but a handsome one…… Ah, I see you’ve now met my girlfriend Taylor, thanks for chiming in darling (note to self: don’t leave your blog unattended).

We’ve been to quite a few beaches and I actually have the privilege of going to yet another next weekend (woot woot!). The first beach we visited was in Tela, where the water was warm and the nightlife was excellent. We even recently went back with Taylor’s mother and boyfriend to share the great experience that is Tela (though it’s possible we didn’t indulge in quite as much nightlife as our first visit…sshhh).  While staying in Tela the first time we made a day trip of about 45 minutes to a small beach village named Miami. We couldn’t have found something more rustic considering its wood shacks, lack of electricity, and population of about 100. I’ll tell you what though, easily the best fish I’ve had in my life was in Miami (and yes we’re planning a trip back with our stomachs as our leading motivators). That little village was as close as I’ve come to a beach that’s untouched by commercialism and tourism. As much as I enjoy the conveniences that come with a hot spot, it sure was spectacular to get away from it all. That being said, we did end up eventually going to a very touristy and expensive beach in Placencia, Belize for a couple days. By this time in our stay here in Honduras we had really been starting to miss certain things, it was mostly just the food from home actually (yeah, sorry about that one, family…). Anyway, Placencia had all the commodities we missed; name-brand crackers, name-brand ice cream, real milk (no offense Honduran cows), and our dearly beloved cheeeeeese mmmmm. Boy oh boy did we enjoy that stuff, but really it didn’t amount to very much other than mean belly ache and constipation  (which turned out to be a nice break from the diarrhea). All the beaches we’ve stayed at have had their own secrets to paradise and they’ve each made our exceptional stay what it is.

Not too long ago my family decided to try and prove to me that I had to be missing more than just food, so they planned a special trip down to see me and Taylor. I took care of finding the setting and not to toot my own horn, but I don’t think I could have done it better myself. We went to the City of La Ceiba and then from there about 30 minutes south along the Rio cangrejal. The river road took us just into the outskirts of a national park which happened to be a full blown jungle. Yup, you got it, leopards and all. Not that we saw any of course, but who knows, maybe they saw us (insert dramatic music here)… The wildlife we actually saw was a macaw and plenty of termites which believe it or not we ate (the termites that is, Honduran police might not have appreciated us eating their national bird). We were on a zipline when our guide showed us to a huge termite nest. He says “If you’re ever lost here, the jungle has plenty of termite buffets to meet all your meal time needs. Not to mention they taste just like carrots!”. Sure enough, they really did taste like carrots. With just a small hint of that metallic taste you get when you suck on your pricked finger, you know the one. “Tastes just like carrots” is a much better sales pitch though, I’ll give him that. The lodge where we stayed really was all around spectacular from it’s riverfront balcony with breathtaking views to the natural style make-up of the buildings. Did I mention they offer white water rafting??  This place is easily one of the highlights of our stay in Honduras. Okay, so I suppose seeing my family may have had some influence on that fact I guess… I mean, they brought a ton of beef jerky.

Well there you have it. You just got a small taste of what the most glamorous parts of the last 7 months have had to offer me. It really has been the time of my life. Now like I said, those are the glamorous parts. I don’t want you thinking it’s all fun and games here. We work our butts off to give these kids the best education we can muster. If we’re not doing that then we’re wasting both our time and theirs. We have the opportunity to be a part of something amazing and that’s the big picture here. Now that being said, vacation destination was a much better sales pitch. I blame the zip line guide for that mind set. 

Mr Graham, 4th Grade Teacher






Anything Worth Doing


My dad recently said something to me that I will never forget. I had just been asked to be volunteer coordinator for the upcoming school year and was trying not to get ahead of myself. I explained to my parents that while I wanted the job more than anything else I could possibly think of, I was nervous that I would find myself feeling, for lack of a better term, in-over-my-head. To this my dad replied, “Anything worth doing is going to make you feel that way.” He was right. I know he was right because I’ve spent a lot of the last seven months feeling this way and have never once questioned whether or not it was worth it.

The kids make it worth it. I have 32 of my own grade six and seven students whom I love so much that it often leaves me wondering if I’ll ever actually be able to go back to Canada. In addition to my own, there are the 271 other students in the school whom I’m also beyond fond of. They are a wild, intelligent, determined, at times hilarious, and inspiring group of kids and young adults. Because of them, even the bad days aren’t that bad and the good days are some of the best I have ever had.

The amount of respect I have for our students is genuinely difficult to explain. Many of them have grown up in situations or endured hardships that I could not have even imagined at their age. Despite this, they are at school with smiles on their faces, positivity in their minds, and kindness in their hearts. This impresses me more than anything else and everyday reminds me how lucky I am to be here and have them in my life. Never before have I had something that motivates me more or makes me smile as much as our kids do. I really don’t know how to explain it more than that so you’ll just take my word for it; they are amazing!

Dana 2.JPG

Our kids are the reason I can tell you wholeheartedly that teaching at Cofradia Bilingual School is, just as my dad said, worth doing. If you think you might agree, why not come here? Why not spend a year of your life feeling in-over-your-head? Spend a year contributing to the lives of these kids and I promise you they will contribute so much to yours as well. Spend a year discovering a new place and immersing yourself in a new culture. Spend a year taking bucket showers and eating beans and playing schoolyard football. Spend a year of your life doing something that is worth doing. It’s so worth doing.

Dana 4

Miss Dana, 6th and 7th Grade teacher


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