Bentley Cornett

Raised in a small town in southwest Virginia, Bentley was given the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and El Salvador for missionary work during high school. Through these trips she discovered her fascination with Latin American culture and the Spanish language. She decided to further her education at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), majoring in International Studies and minoring in Spanish. At Tech, she was active in many service-minded organizations, ranging from refugee resettlement to tutoring and ESL. She studied abroad her senior year in Quito, Ecuador where she lived with a host family and got first-hand experience with the spirited Ecuadorian culture. She found that her passions were a perfect fit for BECA, admiring the organization's commitment of selfless service to such a deserving group of children. She is humbled to be a member of the BECA team for the 2017-2018 year, and anxiously anticipate the life-changing experiences that it will bring.

Posted on Monday, February 26, 2018, 8:12 pm EST

Where have you traveled in Honduras? What was your favorite place?
I have been to many places around Honduras including Copan Ruinas, Santa Rosa de Copan, Gracias Lempira, Tegucigalpa, and Lago de Yojoa. I’m also super pumped that BECA is having a retreat at the beach this weekend so I’ll get to experience that for the first time here! Traveling is one of my favorite things to do here. My favorite place to travel is probably Copan Ruinas; there’s tons of great food, cute shops, and beautiful scenery!

What is your typical weekend like?
When I’m not traveling, I usually spend my weekends relaxing with my roommates here at ADJ. We play a lot of Euchre and there’s usually always someone baking something. There are always activities going on in the hogar, so weekends are a great time to hang out with the kids outside of school. Other than that, weekends are a great time to catch up on pila washing and cleaning the house.

What is your favorite part of the day or class to teach?
My favorite part of the day is the mornings here at ADJ. The second I walk out my front door I can count on a beautiful sunrise awaiting me. Everything is very peaceful at that time, and it makes me feel refreshed, calm and ready to start the day.

How would you describe your class?
I have a lot of different personalities in my class, and I love them all! I would say that I have more of a relaxed class that normally behaves really well. Something they have in common is that they are all very loving and like to show me that love with tons of hugs!

What’s the funniest thing a student has ever said?
There is a student in my class that loves the movie Little Rascals. He sings this song to me every day… “You are so beautiful… for me!!! I can see!!!” with so much emotion. I don’t have the heart to tell him he has the words wrong.

What is a challenging aspect of living in Honduras?
The most challenging part of living here for me is the water shortages. It can be very frustrating to have to wait to take a shower or do laundry. I definitely took for granted the access to water I had living in the US, whereas here it is considered a luxury to have running water every day.

How do you relax when not in school?
While not in school, I like to listen to music, watch Netflix, or go on walks to Pozas or the cross to decompress. Being here at ADJ means not a whole lot of personal space or transportation, so you really have to make the most of what you’re given!

How would you describe the experience of working with BECA and living in Honduras for someone thinking about applying?
I am often at a loss for words when I try describing my time here in Honduras working for BECA. There are some things that just wouldn’t make sense if I were to simply try to explain, I feel that they need to be seen or heard. Nothing about this experience is easy. It’s actually the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. There are high highs and low lows. But it is also the best decision I’ve made thus far in my life. Honduras is an incredibly special place with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I would say that no two experiences here are the same, but all in all it is so worth it and you get so much more than you give.

What makes Amigos de Jesus unique?
At ADJ teachers have a special bond with the students that is hard to find. Not only do we teach our kids, but we get to actually live with them. It’s great to have time to not only act as a disciplinarian or educator, but to just enjoy the kids company and play around. Additionally, there is something unique in the peacefulness that ADJ radiates. The beauty in the nature that surrounds us is almost unreal.

What’s your favorite Honduran food?
BALEADAS! What else?

How did you find out about BECA?
I was looking into volunteer opportunities in Latin America and one day received an email from a BECA alumni explaining the mission and vision of BECA. I found it to be a great fit and couldn’t be happier with my decision to join.

What motivated you to volunteer for a year in Honduras?
I decided to volunteer for a year in Honduras because I was sick of following the same day-to-day routine. A new place and culture sounded really exciting to me, and I also wanted to improve my Spanish skills. I had also been on a few mission trips around Latin America and really felt a strong connection to the warm and welcoming culture. Since I was a senior in high school I knew I wanted to do something like this and I’m really proud to say that I made it a reality!

What did your family and friends say when you decided to move to Honduras?
I don’t really think they were very surprised. I’ve always had a fascination with the Spanish language and culture. Of course my parents were a bit skeptical due to the media’s portrayal of Honduras as a violent and dangerous place, but they ultimately trusted in God that His will would be realized.

How is life in Honduras different for you than life at home?
I would argue that that there aren’t very many similarities at all. My habits and routines at home were vastly different than they are here. Living and working with the same eight people is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, and brings its own benefits and hardships. At home, I had many more outlets than I have here, so I’ve learned to get creative!

How was your first day of class compared to where you are now?
I was terrified on my first day of classes. I had no past experience teaching and was honestly extremely stressed that I was going to be a complete failure. I look back on that day now and laugh, I’ve learned so much and grown in so many ways. I feel very comfortable in the classroom and truly look forward to teaching my students each day!