Kaylee Smith

Kaylee graduated in May 2015 from Cal State Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. While Kaylee has a passion for math, science, and education, she also has a passion for Spanish language and Latin culture. Her passion for Latin culture began with an interest in Spanish music and dance and soon developed into a desire to travel to Latin America. Kaylee is beyond excited for the opportunity to travel to Honduras and combine her passion for learning the language and culture with her desire to educate others. She is ready to face the challenges of being a first-time teacher and is eager to work with fellow BECA volunteers and families in the community to provide the best possible education for the students.

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 10:00 am EDT

What motivated you to volunteer for a year in Honduras?
I was feeling a little stuck in a rut at my job and wanted to explore other career fields and gain a different type of experience from a typical 9 to 5 job. A friend of mine was here with BECA a few years ago and recommended it to me. The largest appeal about the program was the involvement of the parents in the school as well as the cultural exchange that happens between the volunteers and the community.

How was your first day of class compared to where you are now?
I was pretty nervous my first day of class because I didn’t know the kids’ names or personalities. After a month of school now, I have fortunately learned all 67 of my students’ names, but I am still getting to know each of their unique personalities. It is definitely a lot less overwhelming than the first day because we have certain routines established but there is still plenty of room for improvement for the remainder of the year!

What is your favorite part of the day or class to teach?
While I feel most comfortable teaching math, I enjoy being able to do certain activities in my integrado classes because it allows me to see a different side of my students and see how they interact and work with each other outside of a math setting.

What makes working at SJBS unique?
The parent involvement and sense of community at SJBS is the most unique. It is the parents who come cut the grass, clean the classrooms, bring the supplies, etc. and the school thrives because of the contributions of the families. Teachers also frequently visit the homes of their students. I have not had the opportunity to do so yet, but I am really looking forward to home visits!

What’s the funniest thing a student has ever said?
It wasn’t one of my students, but during academy the 7th and 8th graders were doing an activity where they had to form groups for different answers to a question. The question was “What is your favorite color?” The teacher who was instructing went around and asked each of the groups what their color was. The groups were red, blue, purple, etc. When she got to the last group, consisting of two boys, she asked “what is your favorite color?” to which one of the boys replied “Darkness.”

How is life in Honduras different for you than life at home?
Most things are different. More generally, you have to be able to adapt and go with the flow a lot better here. More specifically, showers are colder, electricity goes out almost every time it rains (and also sometimes just randomly), lots of random creatures in your living spaces. Also, sometimes just walking 7 minutes in the city and going to the grocery store can be sensory overload. But there are some pretty cool differences as well. One difference that I particularly appreciate is that there is a store 20 feet from the house where I can buy bananas almost whenever I want. Also you see a lot of the same people while going around in the community, so it’s easy to make acquaintances and greet familiar faces.

Where have you traveled in Honduras?
I have not travelled much in Honduras yet. The places I am most excited about visiting in the near future are Tela and Utila because I like beaches!

What’s your favorite Honduran food?
I am probably supposed to say the baleada, but my actual favorite things are the licquados (oreo crazy!). They almost always make me sick afterwards because they are loaded with sugar but it’s totally worth it. Also the chocobananos with sprinkles.

What is your typical weekend like?
Many weekends we have some sort of mini trip with the BECA group, like going to a water park or to San Pedro Sula. When we have a free weekend, I try to relax as much as possible. I maybe do some laundry in the pila, get groceries and cook for the week, clean my room, lesson plan, work out, relax, relax, relax!

How did you find out about BECA?
A friend of mine had done BECA a few years ago and told me about it when I was looking for something new and interested in travelling.

How would you describe the experience of working with BECA and living in Honduras for someone thinking about applying?
I would say I am still in the adjustment stages of living and working here, and I will honestly say that the adjustment is not instantaneous. I have had many highs and lows while being here in Honduras, but the high points always make the lowest of the lows worth it. Things change last minute all the time here, so you always have to be ready for change. It can be challenging, but it keeps things interesting, that’s for sure!

What did your family and friends say when you decided to move to Honduras?
Most of my family members and friends were not extremely excited for me to move to Honduras because they were concerned for my safety (and would miss me too much). I heard a lot of “Oh my goodness, Honduras is dangerous” and “Why don’t you just become a teacher in the States?” They didn’t really get it initially, but I think now my family and friends understand why I am here and support my decision to teach.