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

Short-term Volunteering in Cofradia – I Have to Leave in a Week!

Because I am only a short-term volunteer – just three weeks – this blog entry will be short and sweet.

 I admit I may still be in the “honeymoon period” but I am honestly loving it here.  I love the town, the school and the students, and the other volunteers.  I feel like it took me about two days to feel right at home here.

 One of my favorite things here has been exploring Cofradia.  The thing about Cofradia is that there are no street names, at least as far as I can tell.  You have to figure out directions by really observing your surroundings.  You have to remember the landmarks:  the bright green pulperia… the bright yellow house with the Minnie Mouse painted on it… the purple house with the hammocks… the orange house with the little old lady who is always sitting on her rocking chair… the corner with all the cows and chickens… the guys selling roasted corn in front of the church…the baleada place…  And one of my favorites, the “thrift store”.  Not what you might picture; it is a house with well-organized piles of clothes set out on the sidewalk in front.  But you can get some great deals there.

 The school and the students are hard for me to describe without sounding cliché.  Two weeks is not nearly enough time to really truly know my students, but I’m already feeling like they are indeed, “my” students. Teaching here is not easy.  I have taught for many years in the USA, and my experiences here have really made me appreciate the resources I have there.  But it’s a challenge I welcome.  Right now, there is no teacher for the 8th and 9th grades so those are the grades I am covering.  My experience has mostly been with elementary, so 8th and 9th are not the grade levels I am most comfortable with. Or at least I thought I wasn’t.  But now I can’t imagine not teaching those kids.  Each and every one of them.  The cliché word I am trying to avoid is “rewarding”, but I think in the end I just can’t avoid it.


8th grade students

 And finally, I want to say some things about the other volunteers. They are spending months and even years here.  I have huge respect for them. They work so hard and obviously care immensely for their students.  But they all still took the time to answer my many questions about, well, about everything.  And despite my being old enough to be a mother to any one of them (and if I’m quite honest with myself, a grandmother to a couple of them) they still made me feel very welcome.  We have fun too.  There is an interesting mix of backgrounds.  Right now, the house has volunteers from the USA, Canada, England/Eastern Europe (that’s the same person), Scotland and Australia.  And Luna the dog, who is a native Honduran.    There are definitely some unique personalities here (which I mean in a good way), there have been some lively discussions, and interesting senses of humor.  Or, in the interest of international goodwill, senses of humour. Despite what spellcheck is trying to tell me.

 As I read back on this, my first ever blog, I realize it is not so short after all.  There is certainly a part of me that is taking that to mean that it wouldn’t be so bad if my stay here also wasn’t quite so short. Well, we shall see what the future brings!

Mrs Linda, Short term volunteer teacher for 8th and 9th grades

#1 Decision

There is no other place that I would rather be!  Sure, life here comes with small struggles, but it is 100% worth every single minute.  I decided to come to CBS, for one year, almost two years ago and I am now in my second school year here and dreading the end coming in July, when sadly my leave from work in Australia runs out. 

I started packing my bags in April 2015 to leave Australia towards the end of September 2015.  I, of course, over packed trying to prepare myself for all situations.  I was recently diagnosed with Coeliac disease (not able to eat any food containing wheat, oats, barley or rye) and I have had type one diabetes (insulin dependent) for just over 10 years. Most importantly I was packing my diabetes supplies to ensure I could get through the year with enough supplies and extras if anything happened!


Insulin for a year!

I packed 120 pump sites, 15 boxes of 100 blood testing strips, an extra pump (one of the reps from the company that my pump was through said it would probably be an issue if anything happened to it while I was here), 3 different blood glucose meters, ketone strips in case I got sick, enough insulin for the year (I am still using that halfway through my second year here) and the list could go on and on.  In the end one of my 2 big bags was practically all diabetes supplies, with a couple of Cadbury chocolates stuffed in the side in case there wasn’t any great chocolate here!  Realistically I was a massive worry wart because living here with diabetes is no different to being at home, except when I want a little advice from my awesome network of friends (& Angels) back home I need to wait a while until they are awake as we are 16 hours behind Australian time here.


My diabetes angels in Australia

The food is good too.  I did get a little bored with rice and corn tortillas after a few months, but then I was introduced to a supermarket in San Pedro Sula that has a whole gluten free (GF) section. Of course it is expensive, a bit more then back home, but it has some great food that gives me a little break from the rice and corn diet occasionally.  Recently one of my good friends and house mates from last year visited and he brought down 4 different packets of GF baking mixes.  Thanks Avery, you rock!  When visiting student’s houses we are always given food, all of the families are so kind and understanding of what I can and can’t eat.  I can now explain in Spanish that ‘I can’t eat anything that contains wheat flour because it makes me sick’, because one of my students gives me Spanish class.  



Yes, I have talked food and ailments in this entry rather than about the experiences at school, because if you are reading this and are considering coming and have anything that you are worried about like this, it really is no problem and the school is amazing as you can read in other posts!  I am a strong believer in doing whatever I put my mind to and like to try and treat every obstacle like a positive challenge.  Being here in Cofradia is the best decision of my life!

Miss Sarah, 10th & 11th grade teacher

Honduras is Something to Write Home About



            Before I begin, I need to explain three things. The first is that due to busyness, slow internet on both ends, and being in different time zones, I don’t get to communicate with my parents as often as I would like. The second is that I spent an embarrassingly long amount of time trying to decide what to write for this blog post, simply because I have so much to say and want to say all the right things. The third it that after over an hour of attempting to write the perfect blog, I was given the advice to simply begin writing and say whatever comes to mind and to be honest. I have chosen to accept this advice and run with it. I know that the best, and perhaps only, way for me to do this is to forget that absolute strangers will read this, so this one is for my Mom and Dad.

Dear Mom and Dad,
            I have a lot to tell you! My second time in Honduras has been even better than the first. I have eighteen grade six students and fourteen grade seven students. We are nearly four months into the school year and they still find ways to surprise and amaze me almost everyday. danaThey are all both clever and curious which I have decided is the perfect combination. Some mornings when my alarm rings at 5:40am and I am still tired from the day before I feel like I would give anything to be able to roll over and go back to sleep. But as soon as I get to school and see my students I remember how lucky I am to have something worth waking up so early for. I am so proud of all my kids and I make sure they know it.

            A couple of weeks ago I walked into my class shortly after the bell rang following recess. All of my students were already sitting in their chairs (something we have been working on recently) and recited in unison “Good morning, Miss Dana.” I smiled and said “You guys are…” and before I could finish my sentence a student named Axel said, “amaaaaazing,” the exact way I would have said it. When I asked how he knew I was going to say that he replied, “you always say that.” I realized he was absolutely correct so I am currently thinking up a few other things to say to them. Any ideas? I’m thinking perhaps “Grade six, you are superb!”

            All of that being said, teaching the ages twelve to fourteen sure does keep me on my toes. I’ve taken to calling them the puberty grades because, well, the reason seems obvious. I’m nearly certain I was given these grades as a way for the universe to get revenge on your behalf for the way I acted when I myself was fighting my way through the puberty grades. It’s safe to say I deal with my fair share of sass and attitude from my students. Regardless, I consider myself lucky to be teaching a group of students whom I get to watch develop more as individuals with every passing day even if that means tolerating the unpredictable moods, unexplainable grumpiness, and an overwhelming smell of body spray which never seems to go away.for-twitter             Not only are my students and the entire school itself amazing but also there are many things I love about Honduras. I love the people here, they are so friendly and generous. Even when they have so little they give so much and spending time with the families of students has become my favourite thing to do outside of school. I love the mountains that surround the area where I live. I have started taking time each day to look up at the mountains and take a couple deep breaths while reflecting on how grateful I am to be here. I love the opportunity to learn Spanish, I love the food, I love the music, and I love riding in moto taxis.

             To summarize, I hope you don’t miss me too much because I won’t be coming home anytime soon. At least not to my Canada home.

 Love and miss you,




Miss Dana, 6th and 7th grade teacher



Gratitude Is My Attitude


I have lived in Cofradia for 115 days. Out of these days there has been a total of 0 days that I haven’t awoken in the morning and felt gratitude. To be able to be in the exact place you were meant to be, doing exactly what you want to do is an amazing feeling. Every day I am overcome with thankfulness and gratitude. From the incredible kids at our school who make my job exciting, challenging and most of all rewarding, to the beautiful home we have here, to the new people we have met that we now call our friends and the opportunity to truly assimilate into a new culture. My thankful for list is endless and continues to grow each day. When you have an attitude of gratitude your outlook on life exudes positivity and this in turn causes a peace and happiness that is difficult to be shaken when difficult circumstances come your way.

Whpamen I was deciding what to write about in this blog, my mind kept coming back to the people. The people are why we are here. There is something so uplifting about seeing people happy when their circumstances are often quite the opposite.  Living here has showed me that happiness is a choice. It doesn’t depend on what the weather is, how much money is in your bank account, what your furniture looks like or how many friends you have. There are people here that live in concrete houses without windows or doors, without kitchens, without clean water, and sometimes even not knowing where their next meal will come from. Even with these challenges, I see them with smiles on their faces, inviting guests over and cooking for them, sharing what little they have. Regardless of their life situation, they are choosing happiness.

The kids that I have the privilege of teaching bring such a light into our lives.pam They are filled with wonder when you teach them a new song or a show them an experiment to learn about hard and soft foods. They squeal with excitement when they get to do a fun craft or when they earn their 5 stickers from good behavior and get to pick from the prize bin. They have the most beautiful smiles that can literally melt your heart. Between their hugs, their giggles, the pictures they make for me, and their love of using newly learned words I have never enjoyed my days more.

Entering into the holiday season, I want to keep sharing love and spreading happiness. I can’t wait to experience the traditions of a Honduras Navidad.  Being here with my children and being able to give away donations sent from family and friends will help us live out the true meaning of Christmas spirit. Giving is far more gratifying than receiving could ever be. Embrace your family, make new memories, continue your holiday traditions and Feliz Navidad!

pam-3Miss Pam, 1st Grade Teacher



Te Quiero, Cofradia

When I told my parents I was going to Honduras to teach they laughed and asked, “are you sure that’s a good idea?” My grandma remarked, “I hope that is in Ontario.” Honduras is certainly not in Ontario, and coming here has been one of the best ideas of my life. I saw the listing for Cofradia’s Bilingual School and was immediately drawn to the school, I applied for the position the same day I saw it.

dsc01630There is something so compelling about CBS, that sets it apart from any other teaching setting I have encountered. The students and teachers are the most wonderful group of people I have witnessed, and the love and admiration they have for each other is what makes the school so successful. The school is so incredible that sometimes you forget that you have not had running water for four days, sometimes.

My two month stay is almost at a close, I leave later in the week, and although I look forward to hot water, and Canadian poutine, I do not look forward to having to leave behind the people I had grown so close to. I have never met a more welcoming, appreciative and loving group of students than the one’s at CBS. Cofradia is the most impressive place I have visited, and I think forever it will hold a deep place in my heart.

Cofradia’s beauty lies in the people dsc01407who live here. Teaching these students is so rewarding, and their eagerness drives you to constantly improve everything from your teaching methods to your outlook on life. Kneeling down to give a kid a hug and then being mauled by twelve first-graders, gives someone a feeling that cannot be replicated. Or sitting with a child in your lap colouring together, when he turns to you and says, “te quiero, Miss. I love you.”

I want to thank the students and teachers of Cofradia’s Bilingual School for showing so much appreciation and dedication, you have changed my life and I will miss you all.

Te quiero.

Miss Scarlett, Resource Teacher.