Classroom Spotlight: Miss Lena

How did you find out about BECA? What did your friends and family think when you told them you were moving to Honduras?
The second semester of my junior year in college, I studied in Tucson, Arizona with the Border Studies Program (BSP). There, I lived with an immigrant host family from Mexico, took classes related to different aspects of the US/Mexico border and worked at a bilingual school. My senior year of college an email was sent out through the (BSP) alumni network promoting BECA.

I applied to BECA in late May and wasn’t accepted until mid June. For this reason, everyone around me including myself did not have a lot of time to think about what it would mean for me to go to Honduras. I was just sort of like yeah I’m going to Honduras and people were like okay.

What is your favorite place that you’ve been in Honduras?
I really enjoy spending time in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is about 2 hours away from Amigos and has lots of wonderful places to eat and coffee shops. I went to school in Portland, OR; thus you gotta love the coffee shops!

Did you have any preconceived notions about Honduras before you came down? How did those compare with what you found when you arrived here?
I honestly didn’t really have anytime to think about what life would be like here. After I was accepted into the program the majority of my time was spent saying goodbye to friends and packing. I also think it is very important to go into a space without certain notions and to have a basic understanding that people live and work differently. I came to Honduras wanting to learn and support the communities here.

How was your first day at school?
My first day of school was definitely very nerve racking. Taking care of 22 children and guiding them through the process of learning is very challenging. Luckily my second graders were very forgiving and I definitely remember laughing a lot, mainly at myself!

What is your favorite part of the day or class to teach?
I love teaching any class where we can use a song to help us solve problems. For instance, we have an addition and subtraction word problem song that we sing when solving word problems. The kids enjoy learning the songs and it is such a cool experience to see them apply the information they learned in the form of a song to solve a math problem!

What is it like to teach at Amigos de Jesus Bilingual School? Describe ADJ for someone who has never been there.
At Amigos, there are so many opportunities to engage with the kids! Half of my students live approximately 200 feet away from me. They are always down to play or do extra work. The space that is Amigos, is gorgeous filled with greenery and beautiful night skies.

I am so happy I ended up at Amigos because of the children that reside here. The kids are awesome, always so energetic and excited to see you. They love being a part of the classroom community and learning!

What’s the funniest thing that a student has ever said?
These kids are constantly making me smile and laugh. They all have such unique personalities and are so observant of the world around them. I don’t have a specific instance but I would say about 70% of the time I am around the kids, I am laughing.

What have your students taught you this year?
Compassion, compassion, compassion. These kids really feel and care for each other. Whenever someone is not feeling well, they advocate for them. They always make sure there is enough food and water for everyone. I am very impressed at the level of empathy they have for each other, which in my opinion is one of the most important feelings human beings should have!

Where can you be found on a Saturday morning?
On a Saturday morning I can found chilling in the hammock eating breakfast.

What is your favorite Honduran food?
My favorite Honduran food is pollo y tajadas. There is this awesome restaurant in Azacualpa called Silvia's. Please go if you ever get the chance!

What is the most challenging aspect of living in Honduras?
For me, the most challenging aspect about living in Honduras is finding time for myself. As a volunteer at Amigos I am constantly doing my best to support the children here, my coworkers and Amigos as an organization overall. It is awesome to be involved in/a part of so many different communities but it can be difficult to balance your needs and everyone else’s needs.

How would you describe the experience of working with BECA and living in Honduras for someone thinking about applying?
Amigos has so much to give and offer but is also important that you are ready to receive it. My life is centered around the kids and the communities I am a part of. It is important to acknowledge that if you come here you have to ready to give pieces of yourself and in turn value the kids for the way they are.

Also just a funny side note: my second graders ended up singing Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” for a mother’s day concert which, now thinking about it seems to encompass my experience living at Amigos. Living and working here takes a lot of endurance, compassion, understanding and empathy.