A little while ago I signed up to write a 'volunteer testimonial' about experience here so far. Here's what I came up with, plus some fun photos of me teaching (see above).
Being already most of the way through my year here in Honduras, it’s hard to pick one issue or experience to focus on. That’s probably because this has been a year of learning and thinking about a whole lot of new things, everything from teaching and discipline techniques, to reflections on love and respect, to how to successfully bake a cake with four or five excited and crazy 12-year-old assistants. And lots about positive thinking.
So, I've decided to talk about some of those things I’ve learned…Or better said, some the things I’m still only starting to learn:
-I no longer freak out about evenly serving lunch out of a cooler to 40 teenage boys, most of whom will inevitably say you didn’t give them enough.
-How to feel thankful about some of the privileges I never appreciated before, like running water, regular electricity, or growing up with a sense of security and things to keep me stimulated.
-“Dios es amor”, a common phrase you see here in Honduras. Coming from a fairly secular background, I wasn’t sure what the religious aspect of this experience would be like. However, my experience with religion here has challenged me and taught me a lot about love and spirituality.
-The kids really are, as someone explained to me, like sponges: they take in everything. Even though they might not act like it in class.
-Any action, done with a sense of love and solidarity, drastically changes the effect. For me, this has been most true in the classroom, where I’ve had to learn to laugh at the crazy things the kids do every day, even as I’m telling them to stop doing it. Trying to understand and feel where the kids are coming from has helped my teaching a lot. It’s also something I still struggle with every day. Love doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it helps lead to a more positive relationship with the young person that might help them feel less need to act that way in the future.
-Cake or candy can be an incentive for just about anything.
-How to focus on, and feel excited about, the many positive things all around me here on the ranch. Such as: a smile from a student who’s usually challenging; drinking coffee on a tranquilo Sunday morning, surrounded by the beautiful landscape and a good conversation; or a group of 12 year old boys dancing with their mops as they sing along to the radio (well, that last one happens pretty much every week). In short, to really feel good about the small victories. Because there aren’t many obvious big ones.
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The article, plus more photos, is on the NPH Website here.