I remember the first day I arrived in Honduras to volunteer with BECA like it was yesterday. Upon arrival we had the opportunity to stay with a family to further immerse ourselves into the communities customs and cultures. The family I stayed with took me in as one of their own and introduced me to traditional games, top places to see and all of their friends. I immediately felt as if I was fully welcomed and supported in the community. We formed a deep connection and were always there for me during my time in Honduras.
As training continued I got increasingly excited about classes beginning. As the 4th, 5th and 6th Grade English Language Arts teacher at San Jeronimo Bilingual School (SJBS) I had 75 students and a large group of parent/ guardian counterparts. Meeting my students and their families was the best part of my BECA experience. Relationships are indeed extremely powerful. As much as I was there for my students, that only represents a small fraction of time in comparison to how much the parents and families were there for me. In November my mother passed away after a long and courageous battle against cancer. The BECA community: staff, partners, students and families were all there to support me in ways I didn’t even know were humanly possible. The amount of support, compassion and love shown from people I only knew for four months and people who never met my mom truly represents the power of the BECA community. The BECA community wants everyone to feel loved, included and successful. During my two years with BECA not everything was “normal”. We experienced the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition to virtual learning and two catastrophic hurricanes in the same week. However, looking back, these situations made us stronger, form a part of who we are today and who we dream to be tomorrow. The BECA community showed again how in the face of difficult, unknown situations we can and always will prevail.
Looking back I can only smile and positively reminisce on every moment, interaction and relationship formed during my time in Cofradia. I am extremely grateful to consistently travel back to Cofradia and maintain those relationships that truly made my time unforgettable. It’s as if I have a second family. My experience with BECA has prepared me in more ways than I can ever express for where I am now. Currently I work at The Children’s Inn at NIH as the Family Program Coordinator for Education. I truly do not think I would be where I am today without my experience, lessons learned and opportunities BECA brought into my life.
I want to conclude with some words my mother shared with me before she passed that helped guide me through my BECA experience to where I am now:
- Be patient.
- Be strong.
- Follow your dreams.
I hope these words resonate with others and help guide you through your life changing journey of being a part of the BECA community. Everyone’s individual stories joined together help paint the picture of our BECA community.
Matthew McCormack, a long term committed BECA volunteer from Summer Camp Counselor 2018 to Volunteer Teacher 2019-2021 and Program Coordinator 2020-2021 to current Volunteer Recruitment Chair based in Bethesda, Maryland. Since age 15, Matthew has committed himself to nonprofit education. Currently, Matthew works at The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health as the Family Program Coordinator for Education making childhood possible and reducing the burden of illness through educational programming and opportunities. He is excited to share his experiences in Honduras and the beauty of the BECA community with all who are interested to support from afar or in person in one of our classrooms.