My last visit to Honduras was back in March 2006, when the San Jeronimo Bilingual School still had fresh paint on its walls, Dona Enma’s liquados were irresistibly delicious, and Don Wilfredo would transport volunteers to school in his miraculously rebuilt and rebuilt-again blue Toyota. When Jaime invited our family to volunteer at BECA’s summer camp in Spring 2023, I checked my schedule and immediately agreed. While I had kept myself informed about BECA’s activities, my involvement had always been from an outsider’s perspective—talking with Jaime about Honduras, browsing the BECA website, reviewing legal documents, and overhearing numerous Zoom calls with the BECA Board and partners. The prospect of being on the ground, actively contributing, both thrilled and unnerved me. It was exciting because I would have the chance to interact with the students, administrators, and teachers at SJBS. However, it also made me a bit nervous because my Spanish skills were embarrassing, and it had been 17 years since I had last set foot in Honduras.

When we arrived in Cofradia, I noticed several changes. There were more coffee shops and stores than I remembered, more paved roads, and mototaxis everywhere. However, many of the things that made Honduran culture so special remained unchanged. The warm smiles and kindness of strangers, the daily exchanges of “Buenos Dias” or “Buenas” with everyone we passed by, the hospitality of people like Dona Carmen, the Fajardos, Grasibel and family, Ms Kenya and Manuel, and Seidy, who welcomed us into their homes and hearts, and the dedication and camaraderie of the volunteer teachers—Kathy, Elida, Colin, Pabely, and Olivia—who I’m proud to call friends.

The true highlight of my experience was the 5th/6th grade class I shared with Ms. Kathy. Although we were designated as the teachers, I firmly believe that it was the children who were the real teachers. They showed us the power of curiosity, the beauty of finding joy in learning, the strength to overcome challenges and tackle difficult tasks, and the importance of caring for one another unconditionally.

Eli Koppel
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