Summer Camp and volunteering with BECA provided me with more memories and experiences than I could have ever imagined. I took a lot away from my time in Honduras and I learned a lot about myself in just 3 and a 1/2 weeks. Here's a glimpse of what I gained from my Honduran adventure with BECA:
1. Summer Camp with BECA is jam-packed with good fun and great people: Going into summer camp I didn't know any of the other volunteers. We only knew each other a bit from email conversations and a conference call about 1 week before our arrival in Honduras. Within two or three short days, we all started to bond. Once we were placed in our teaching groups or pairs and were adjusting to our new Honduran lifestyles we became closer. We talked about our lives, about how we found BECA, and chatted about anything and everything. In no time, we had developed quite a friendship. Each of the volunteers and people I met on this trip were truly amazing. They were fun and caring individuals, and it was amazing to get to know them as we lived through such an experience together.
2. Making the most of every opportunity further enhanced my experience: We had the opportunity to take weekend excursions with the group and go on home-visits to families within the community during the week. I chose to go on every weekend adventure and nearly all home visits and each of those opportunities helped shape my overall experience in Honduras. On the first weekend, we took a day trip to Parque Nacional Cusuco where we hiked to and swam in an amazingly beautiful waterfall. On the way to Cusuco we rode in the back of a truck for over an hour and I can definitely say it was a bonding experience. Cayos Cochinos was our second weekend destination where we drove to La Ceiba, got on a boat or lancha, and stayed the night on a private island. The water was perfectly clear and the whole weekend was beyond amazing. During the third weekend, we rode busses to Copán where we shopped for souvenirs and saw the Copán ruinas. On each of the home visits we went on, we took a deeper look into the lives of some our students and their families. We went swimming in one family's pool and learned how to make baleadas at another's. It was amazing to see how much each family appreciated us as volunteers and how we were impacting their lives as they were impacting ours.
3. The kids at camp melted my heart every day: Summer camp is a more relaxed and fun environment compared to the normal school year. Students still learn and practice their English, but there are more games and activities in order to make camp for fun and engaging. I was in the 1st grade classroom with 2 other volunteers and we had a blast every single day. From coloring sea animals to learning about outer space, we had fun with our kiddos. It was wonderful to see how much each of them desired to learn. They loved flashcards and books! Seeing their excitement about education was inspiring and I loved every minute I spent working with them.
4. Learning is universal: I went to Honduras knowing I was going to help children learn or practice their English, but I left knowing I had learned so much. I learned that even when the water was not working inside the house, the pila or outdoor shower was just as refreshing. I learned that baleadas are delicious, especially with avocado and mantequilla! I learned that even if kids are not able to read a book because it’s written in their second language, it's the comfort of knowing books are available for them to explore. I learned that some San Jeronimo Bilingual School (SJBS) parents work incredibly hard to make it possible for their children to learn English. And lastly, I learned that learning extends beyond the classroom and is present in the experiences we are willing to have.
5. BECA is an outstanding organization: I believed in BECA’s mission from the moment I read the website and watched the promotional video, but it wasn’t until I was actually in Honduras interacting with the students that I realized the full impact of BECA. During my time in Cofradia I met several SJBS graduates and I was amazed by their English fluency. It assured me that my 1st graders had so many opportunities ahead of them and that the education provided by BECA volunteers was truly successful. I was very impressed by the educational structure and organization of BECA and I am blessed to forever be a part of the BECA team.
Each day I spent in Honduras I experienced new adventure and excitement. I am grateful for the new global perspective I gained and the friendships I have formed. My experience in Honduras was life changing and BECA should be proud of its dedication to its students and their futures!