There’s no other job quite like teaching. From running around, frantically making copies to playing soccer during recess while also trying to make sure no one is cheating, being a teacher keeps you on your toes. You never know what your students are going to throw at you. One day you might be taking a kitten out of your student’s backpack (true story!), and the next day you might be enjoying a meal at that same student’s house while connecting with their family. It was BECA that introduced me to the wonderful, and hectic, world of being a classroom teacher, and for that I am forever grateful.
I first entered the BECA community in 2017, when I travelled to Cofradia, Honduras for 3.5-weeks to serve as a summer camp counselor. Those ~25-days tested my ability to teach, to not scratch every single mosquito bite on my body, and to always center the student’s experience. Summer camp felt like a sneak peek into the wonderful world of BECA, and all that was possible if I could just stay for a little bit longer; and that’s exactly what I did. After I graduated in December 2017, I returned to Cofradia to be the 1st grade teacher at San Jeronimo Bilingual School.
My first graders are now going into the 6th grade, have developed strong, and beautiful, personalities, and still beat me in soccer. It’s because of the relationships I formed with my students, their families, and the Cofradia community that I continue to support BECA in any way I can. BECA serves a unique role in this story, it’s the connector. Without BECA’s summer camp I never would have travelled to Cofradia. Had I not travelled to Cofradia, I certainly would not have moved there to be a 1st grade teacher. If I had not had that teaching experience, I wouldn’t have been able to come back as a teacher trainer, as the summer camp director, or as a board member for this wonderful organization.
That brings me to today; this summer, I had the joy of spending over a month in Honduras with a new group of counselors. I saw the joy in my former student’s faces when they met their new teacher, and they saw the joy in my face when they learned that their new teacher was a dear friend of mine. Now, I am back home and continuing to support BECA from afar by recruiting new teachers, fundraising for our Back-to-School campaign, and so much more. I don’t think I can stop supporting BECA, because BECA has connected me to lifelong friends (I was just at a former summer camp counselors wedding this year!), introduced me to the most welcoming community, and has continued to do right by my former student’s day in, and day out.
As BECA continues to move forward, after two uncertain and traumatic years, I invite you to join us on the journey. Each year, BECA hosts our annual Back-to-School campaign to start the year strong. This year is extra special because it our first time returning to in-person instruction since the school year began. I encourage you to start a fundraising page and invite your community into the work BECA does, and serve as the connector that BECA was, and continues to be, for many of us.
Nemanja Demic is an experienced non-profit professional, and passionate educator. After serving as a BECA Summer Camp Counselor (’17), he went on to be the first grader teacher at San Jeronimo Bilingual School during the 2017/18 school year. Since his time with BECA, Nemanja continued his time in the classroom before transitioning to the education, non-profit sector, where he continues to serve children and fight for increased access to quality education for all. He is thrilled to serve on the BECA board, where he hopes to utilize his pedagogical and teacher recruitment knowledge to further the mission of the organization.