How did you get involved with BECA?
My junior year in college I decided that I would spend the summer working for an NGO that did work in education or community development. Through some peers I learned about a search engine called “idealist” and after a few hours of searching I came across BECA. The rest is history
Did you have any preconceived notions or ideas about Honduras before your first visit? How did those compare to the reality you experienced?
In all honestly, I knew very little about Honduras before traveling there. As a Latin America Studies major you would think that I had been taught something about the country, however it rarely came up in my studies since it is one of the less influential (for lack of a better word) countries in the region. The most significant thing I knew was that Honduras suffered from systematic poverty and that it was the so-called "murder capital of the world" at some point. The reality: Honduras is a poor, less developed country and living in Cofradia allowed me to experience that first hand. In terms of the violence and crime, there is no denying that it exists and is a perpetual issue. However, as in any country, it shouldn’t affect you if you mind your own business and don’t venture into the known problem areas.
What is summer camp? What does a typical day look like?
Summer camp is a month long program where college students/ recent graduates come to Honduras to teach 1st-6th graders. Students from two of the three BECA schools come to summer camp and it runs from 8am-noon. The point is to keep these students practicing their English during the summer, and also to give them a healthy environment where they can stay out of trouble. My typical summer camp day starts off with a lesson that introduces the concepts of the day. Throughout the afternoon we do fun activities related to P.E./ Art/ Writing.
Why did you decide to return to summer camp for another year?
I decided to volunteer with BECA again because it was such a transformative experience the first time around. After summer camp 2015 I was able to narrow my academic interests; I grew very passionate about migration issues and the correlation with education and community development. After BECA I went on to intern with a few organizations that worked with refugees/ asylum seekers/ migrants. These experiences allowed me to land my first “big girl” job at an immigration law firm, which then led me to realize that I wanted to do a Masters in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. All this to say that I felt I needed to give back to the organization that gave me so much.
What were you most excited about this year for summer camp?
I was most excited to see the same students that I once taught, but also to reunite with some of the BECA administrators that made my first experience so memorable. Another exciting aspect is that my younger brother is a summer camp counselor this year!
How would you describe the experience of working as a summer camp teacher with BECA?
It is a more informal/laid back version of what the full year teaching looks like, but that’s not to say it’s not challenging or less impactful. Throughout the week we take lesson planning very seriously, but on the weekends we like to escape to either the beach, go on some intense hikes, or visit Copan Ruins.
What is your favorite destination in Honduras or Central America?
Honduras is the only Central American country I have been to and I would say that my favorite destination is Copan Ruins. It is a beautiful little city with cobble stone roads, vibrant colors, great chocolate and coffee, and last but not least, Mayan history.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with BECA?
Whether you’re doing summer camp or the full year teaching year, it is a meaningful experience that will change your life for the better. You will grow professionally and personally
Describe your experience with BECA in 3 words.
Transformative, humbling, exciting
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened in the classroom?
There are many, but here is the most recent. For one of our lessons we had our students to make their own alien. Before we had them work individually, we asked them to tell us what they thought an alien looked like so that we could draw it on the board together. It was such a good time because they were being so silly and creative. They were shouting for us to draw a bikini, meatballs on its head, snot under its nose, etc. ALL of our students were cracking up and some of them could not even look at the board because of how ugly/funny they were making their alien. It was so great to see them enjoying themselves.