Flashback to my first day (ever) of teaching: it’s the end of a tough two hours in my English preschool class and we’re sitting in the auditorium waiting for busitos and mototaxis to come pick up the students. Those two hours were kind of like a hurricane—I knew it was coming, I thought I was prepared, but at the end, I was left standing in shambles and piles of debris. I couldn’t blame the kids—they were young and had never been separated from their parents. I was a stranger, white, and spoke only in a language they didn’t understand. They were obviously terrified.
Sitting in the grass, I grappled with my personal hurricane from that day until this one: Carlos. I literally grappled with him, as I held my arms around his middle and forced him to sit criss-cross on the grass. Here I am with this squirming four-year-old in my arms, trying to get the other 21 of them out the porton, and suddenly an idea occurs to Carlos and a devious looks spread across his face. I’m going to eat this grass, he thinks. And he did. As I watched in horror, he pulled up some weeds, dirt and roots included, and stuck them in his mouth, taunting me, as if to say, “What are you going to do with me now, maestra?” Two years later and it’s an image I haven’t forgotten.
In his second year of school, Carlos has picked up a new habit that’s too funny for me to seriously punish. He just really enjoys drinking out of the teachers’ water bottles. It doesn’t matter what teacher, it doesn’t matter if he has his own cup—he prefers the challenge and the thrill of stealing your water bottle and guzzling it down as you run in horror to stop him. I’ve learned quickly to keep my bottle on the highest shelf in the classroom. I get a chuckle out of watching him do it to my co-workers. Maybe I should help them out more—but I just imagine that everyone has the same soft spot in their heart for Carlos that I do.
More recently, Carlos’s thievery has graduated to a new level that even I can’t forgive with just laughter. From the details I’ve been able to piece together, Miss Emily, the 1st grade teacher, was on duty near my classroom during lunch a few weeks ago, watching the kids on the playground and making sure they didn’t head dive into the dirt. Carlos casually walked by and attempted to grab the fried chicken off of Emily’s lunch plate, but she held it high in the air where his small arms couldn’t reach it. She wasn’t not pendiente enough, though, and on a second pass by, Carlos grabbed her fried chicken, took a big bite out of it, deposited it back on her plate, and went back to his lunchtime business.
Miss Emily was the same kind of incredulous I was: horrified that someone had just stolen a bite of her lunch, but also wanting to laugh at the audacity of this 5-year-old. As his teacher, I felt partly guilty, but also I had to step back and admire Carlos’s gutsy-ness, as well as his patience and perseverance to get the chicken. How do you apologize to another person when your student eats their lunch? I don’t know.

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BECA Alumni

After a year full of singing the ABC song daily, bathing in glitter and glue, and dancing embarrassingly in front of her students, Raven is excited to return to San Jeronimo. She will teaching Prepa, following her class from Kinder, and has great hopes that there will be far fewer tears on the first day this time around. Before coming to Honduras, Raven studied Creative Writing and Spanish at Missouri State University, where she also had the opportunity to study away in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has plans to attend graduate school for Latin America Studies after her time in Honduras and continue learning about the people and culture of the area. In the meantime, she hopes to help her students transition into the full school day, begin to read, and learn to say her name correctly. She's especially looking forward to spending time with her twenty-five small friends and their families come August.