Well, here it is. 4:30 am on the morning we all depart, and I’m lying wide awake in bed because sleep is apparently something that doesn’t want to come.
The most challenging and rewarding year of my life has come to a close. There aren’t words to describe how much I will miss this place and these people. I may have only been here a year, but the impact that these kids and their families have left on my life is enorme. I want to say it’s not fair that I have to leave, but I’m old enough to know that life is full of changes, beginnings, and endings. This is just another ending in a long line of endings that will eventually come to demarcate some of the most significant stages of my life, the times I will look back on when I’m (hopefully) old and gray and thinking about those major events in my life that made me who I am and that forever left footprints on my heart. Except that today, as I board that final flight back to the United States, I won’t just be walking down the terminal with one more footprint on my soul. I’ll be carrying the 25 little ones left by students, the 18 others left by my team members, and the 1 very big one left by this country as a whole.
Potable water, stable electricity, paved roads, police officers who don’t incite fear, parasite-free food and water, immediate access to doctors, air conditioning, hot water, cars … Those are all extras, luxuries that aren’t needed to truly be happy. Good company, good people, good community, and good friends – that’s what counts.
Sure, I’m excited for all of the things listed above that await me back home, but the feeling will be ephemeral, I’m sure. I don’t know how I will feel when I’m back in Texas and not waking up to the crow of the stray roosters or yelps of the stray dogs. I don’t think it will truly hit me until tomorrow morning, when I wake up in my own bed and realize I’m really not in Hondu anymore. I am so used to this life that it seems surreal to think it won’t continue to be my life in the days to come.
Sure, leaving NYU, New York, and my sorority sisters who had so quickly become my family, I had the same feeling. But this is different in so many ways. It’s goodbye on a whole new level. It’s goodbye to the people and the place that undoubtedly changed my life forever. My perspective on so many things has been altered and broadened. My views on global issues have been completely blown open. My strong opinions about our broken immigration system have only been furthered by my experience meeting people down here who made it to el otro lado, hearing their stories of struggle, strife, and injustice.
My love for my students and this school will stay with me as I continue onward next Fall and begin my Master’s in International Education Development. I will think of my kids every day as I learn new things about access to education in underdeveloped countries, and every time I read about a school that has changed not only a community but the path of an entire population, I will think back on my 25 little children. It will be them who will keep me going in the years to come.
I truly believe that, little by little, global access to education will eventually eradicate poverty and revolutionize the way the world runs in just the next few generations. How do I know? I’ve seen proof of it first-hand. If we give kids schools and equal opportunities to learn, we can empower them one by one and open doors for not only them and their families, but for their countries as well. Every kids deserves that same opportunity, and the best part about going to work every early morning of this year was knowing that these kids were finally getting a chance just like everyone else.
So, as some final words before I leave Honduras at noon today, I would just like say: thank you to this incredible organization, my beautiful little children, this community that welcomed us with nothing but open arms, and my wonderful teammates. Through the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears, you have left a mark in me that will firmly remain in the years to come.
Hasta luego, Honduras. No te voy a decir adiós, porque no es así. Hasta la próxima vez. Te amo mucho. Gracias por una experiencia inolvidable. Siempre estarás en mi corazón.