It has been a year and a half since I last left Honduras, dirty, exhausted, and so incredibly grateful. A lot in my life has changed since then. I no longer pick ants out of my drinking water. I no longer sit at night and watch the sun set over the dazzling mountains at the Guatemalan border. I no longer take cold bucket showers or do my laundry by hand. And I no longer get to see my bright-eyed, mischievous, and loving Kindergarten students on a daily basis.
While I no longer do any of these things, I have carried the lessons I learned in Honduras and from BECA like dark chocolates that I unwrap and savor when life gets overwhelming and hard. I grew up there. I learned humility, forgiveness, frustration, exhaustion, hope. I learned that even when you plan and work and plan and work that sometimes life is not always going to go your way. I learned that you have to meet kids and people where they’re at and not where you want them to be, that you’ll never really know the pain or struggles someone else has faced. I learned that I had limits that I wore like the dirt caked into my skin. I learned that wasting something sometimes felt the same as taking from those who had none. I learned to let go, be present, and give.
It has been a year and a half, but I am still the person that emerged from those two years with BECA. I am more generous, less stressed, stronger, and happier. While I was the teacher, I learned all of those qualities from my students, their wonderful families, and dozens of other people I met when I was there. I feel so thankful for those in the Honduran community for welcoming me into their homes, their lives, because their openness and generosity showed me a way of operating in the world that is often lacking in America. No matter when or how, there were always baleadas ready, a hug waiting, and a friendly joke about your accent ready to be deployed.
How all my best stories, successes, and failures can come from one place, from two years still amazes me. But what does not amaze me is that I still have the hope Honduras instilled in me that love and patience is all you really need to change yourself, to change the world.