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Rachael's Experience at GSV

Teaching First Grade

After qualifying as a TEFL teacher in 2017, my partner and I were keen to look for positions in Central and South America. When we were offered the position at GSV we took it straight away as it sounded like an incredibly rewarding experience, and it definitely has been in more ways than I can say.

I have wanted to work with children for a while and the idea of being able to help set up a bilingual programme that will help students at GSV learn English and potentially improve their futures by doing so, seemed like a great chance to help other people and work with children for the first time. We jumped in, eyes and ears wide open, straight into the deep end, which in hindsight was a great thing as it meant we just had to get on with teaching. Considering this was our first ever teaching experience it was pretty daunting, but Liz (the co-ordinator) has been there giving us support from day one when she met us coming off the plane when we were so jetlagged we hardly knew our own names.

The accommodation and food that is provided is great, sometimes the water goes off and sometimes the electricity goes off but as long as you can take it in your stride and accept that this is what sometimes happens in developing countries then it won’t seem like an issue. The neighbours are also very friendly. Honduras can seem to get a bad write up on the internet, but the local community we live in has given us nothing but smiles, great coffee and huge welcomes from day one. Obviously Honduras has it’s issues but with a bit of common sense for safety, travellers here feel safe. We are regularly invited to students houses by their parents for lunch or coffee as they are very appreciative of the lessons we are giving their children.

As for my teaching experience, I was given 1st grade as well as 7th 8th and 9th grade. Two opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways. 7th, 8th and 9th grades have a little bit of English exposure so we have been making slow but steady progress.

1st grade was a challenge from day one. Discipline was non existent and I was attempting to implement a discipline structure in a safe environment in a language they did not know. And considering I didn’t speak much Spanish when I first arrived, I understood their frustration at me. I knew from the first week that I had a big challenge on my hands. Three months in and I’m excited to see my first graders every single day. Liz was able to give me lots of encouragement and support to help me figure out the right way to implement a structure to the class that the students could get on board with. As a class we are still working to every day to improve behaviour but their English language skills have improved dramatically and to see how enthusiastic they are to learn and how quickly they are understanding a new language makes it all worth while. Being able to see their little personalities come through and their confidence build has made me want to become a primary school teacher at home in the UK. I will miss them very much when we leave in May.

There are many beautiful places to visit in Honduras including Lake Yojoa and the Bay Islands and many friendly locals to go on these trips with. In the volunteer house we tend to cook together pretty regularly, and chilling in the hammock after a hot day of teaching is always a bonus.

The community here in Brisas De Valle is very supportive and friendly and I feel like I have made some real friends here in Honduras and learned a lot about every day life here. People here are always keen for a coffee and a chat so if being fully immersed in a local community is something that sounds appealing then I would highly recommend this volunteer opportunity. It gives opportunities to children from various backgrounds, good and bad, that they might not get otherwise. It is an incredible programme that will grow from strength to strength as long as there are volunteers to help keep it going, so come join us!

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