After working as the Upper Resource Teacher and Middle School Science Teacher at San Jeronimo Bilingual School (SJBS), Meagan Sherman has returned for another round with BECA’s oldest students as the Middle School English Teacher. Read on to hear about the funniest essays she’s graded, her favorite places to visit, and the most moving moment of her time with BECA.
What is your favorite place that you’ve visited in Honduras?
My favorite place will always be a small village called Villa Soleada, near El Progreso. Before BECA, I spent a year working there with Students Helping Honduras in a safe home for children. My year with those kids was probably the toughest of my life, but I adore each and every one of them. I go back to visit about once a month.
Describe your typical weekend.
Friday afternoons and nights are little bit like collapsing after a marathon, so finishing the school week sometimes means it’s time to nap. If I do manage to pull myself out of bed, however, there are usually volunteers that get together to watch a movie, chat, or make dinner. Saturdays are relaxing days. Once a month we have our group trip to the big city (San Pedro Sula), but on Saturdays that we don’t, I like to take the day to myself and recharge. I might take a trip somewhere, watch Netflix all day, or just spend some time with friends. Sundays are when we get back into work mode. Planning takes a significant amount of time on Sundays, and I try to get as much done as possible to make my weekdays easier. Sundays are also for tidying up the apartment, laundry, and cooking dinner with my roommates.
What’s the funniest thing a student has ever said?
At the beginning of the school year, the eighth grade students wrote about their summer vacation. As I was reading them, one student’s essay stuck out – particularly his detailed description of family drama. My favorite line was the following: “[My cousin] asked my aunt if he could go with me to Las Vegas and I was like please God don’t let him but he went with me for three weeks the worst weeks of my life he used my xbox 360 he ate my food he used my iPod and killed my son and my dog in a game called the Sims.” I laugh every time I think about his “traumatic” summer.
Another time was less of what the student said so much as did, but it’s still one of my favorite memories. There was a problem with one of the third grade students, and the teacher was trying to get the bottom of it. She was trying to ask other students in the class what had happened – but hadn’t realized just how evasive 8-year olds can be when they’re protecting one of their own. My favorite response was when the teacher asked one student what had happened, to which the student responded, under her breath, “things….very important things….”. This would have been funny enough, but upon realizing she was about to tattle, she grabbed the Play-Do from her center and furiously stuffed it in her mouth so that she wouldn’t be able to spill the beans! The teacher had her spit it out immediately, but we were laughing too hard to ever determine what the “very important things” actually were.
What is the most challenging aspect of living in Honduras?
Chikungunya and other tropical illnesses that make you feel like you’ve been run over by a semi. Being sick isn’t fun anywhere, but it reaches a whole new level in Honduras, and sweating out a fever in a non-air conditioned apartment when it’s 106 degrees can make you want to reconsider your life choices. However, the illnesses are only temporary (even the chikungunya joint pain goes away after about 4 months, I promise!) and you forget about those rough times when you’re feeling 100%.
What’s your favorite Honduran food?
BALEADAS FOREVER! Baleadas are a typical Honduran dish consisting of a flour tortilla filled with a fried beans, eggs, cheese, cream, and/or avocado. My personal favorite is a classic baleada with beans and eggs. They‘re not healthy by any means, but they’re sooo gooooood.
How do you relax and decompress when you’re not in school?
I enjoy reading, and luckily volunteers from years past have left a ton of pleasure reading books behind. Anything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tends to be pretty popular among the volunteers, and I’m no exception. When I want some lighter reading, the SJBS library has a fantastic selection of young adult books. The middle school students LOVE anything and everything by John Green, and are constantly fighting over his books. The girls also really enjoy romance novels by authors such as Susane Colasanti and Sarah Dessen.
What made you decide to stay for a second year?
The BBP scholarship interviews, hands down. Each year, two of our ninth graders receive a scholarship to continue their bilingual education in a high school of their choice in San Pedro. There are many factors that go into the selection process; the family’s financial situation, the student’s academic and behavioral performance for the past several years, and an application process that includes an interview with the SJBS Administrators and middle school teachers. It’s an incredibly emotional day both for students and teachers. I was lucky enough to be a part of that last year, and seeing those kids break down and talk about their home lives was incredibly eye-opening for me. It reminded me that even though we see them every day, we could still be oblivious to the other parts of their lives, which obviously has a huge impact on their school performance. I want to be the kind of teacher that these kids feel safe with, and feel safe confiding in when the rest of their life isn’t so stable.