Let me start from the end - I love teaching, I love Honduras and I love living here.
But I didn't know I would feel so strongly about these things when I got here. Let me explain.
So here I am, just hanging out in a hostel in Costa Rica after traveling South and Central America for almost a year now. I decided that before I go home, back to Israel, I would like to volunteer somewhere. I mean, I felt like it's something I should do, an experience I should have at least once in my life. See what it's like, maybe try to dedicate some of my time to others. I'm thinking of teaching English maybe. I mean, I don't even know whether I like kids or not, and I've never taught anyone anything, but I feel like English is the only non-physical thing I've got that I can contribute. And not for too long either, since I bet it's pretty hard. I guess a month should do. I feel like that's a decent amount of time. Yes. One month and then I'll go to Guatemala, Mexico and then back home. Sounds good.
So I am looking for a volunteering opportunities online. But for some reason, all of them either ask for money to volunteer, something I cannot afford, or don't seem to be very attractive opportunities. I didn't know finding a volunteering opportunity would be so tricky.
But then I find Garden School Victoria on a random website. "We provide housing, food, wifi, transportation to and from the airport, and a $50 USD monthly stipend to help with expenses. We also cover any visa related fees and medical costs incurred while here.” (spoiler - all of this turns out to be true).
Wow - sounds pretty sweet!
But wait, Honduras? I don't know about that. Honduras was not part of my plan. I've heard it's a bit too dangerous, never even thought about going there so.., Maybe it's not the best idea. But what the hell - I'll send an email anyway, we'll have a talk - let's see how it goes. I mean, the deal does sound pretty sweet.
I had a Skype call with Liz, the volunteer coordinator. It all sounded pretty good. So I made up my mind - I'm going to Honduras! It's an organized program - it can't be too bad.
Luckily, Liz agreed to a one-month commitment because the program is kind of new and a month is still helpful, so worst case I'll just make it through a month and keep on traveling.
Liz just dropped me off at my new home. I was welcomed by the current volunteers with a nice, warm meal they just made together.
They were super nice and friendly, and I have a good feeling about this choice I've made. But I guess time will tell.
The next day was my first day at school. I don't know anyone, and socializing with the kids is kind of difficult for me.
I realize that the first week is not going to be easy.
I help the other teachers out on a daily basis as the resource teacher. I mean, I'm not gonna get my own class since I’m only staying a month, so I guess that makes sense. I get to know the kids, step by step, and am getting used to Honduras. I'm thinking having my own class would probably be a lot of fun, but I'm only here for a month, so I can't really complain.
Back To August, 2018:
I've been living here for almost 5 months now.
A week before I was supposed to leave, I decided that I want to teach kids and be their full-time teacher, even if it means staying for longer and probably giving up on Guatemala and Mexico. Adam and Rachael, two volunteers, left after finish their three-month commitment, and I took over Rachael's classes - 1st, 7th and 8th grades.
And I'll tell you what - it is a challenge. But it's amazing.
I have become a teacher for these kids and I visit them almost every day after school and hangout with them outside of class because we became such good friends as well.
And it's not only the kids - I made some local friends as well who I hang out with because people in Brisas Del Valle are just so friendly and welcoming.
So in the end, I end up living in this amazingly beautiful area with friendly people, teaching and loving amazing students, living, working and cooking every night with great open minded volunteers in a great house. This whole experience turns out to be pretty good to be honest!
I know what you're thinking - You want to volunteer, but you really don't want to end up committing long term to some random, program that might not be good enough.
I know that because I was thinking the same thing. And I didn't know whether that was going to be the case with GSV or not even after I agreed to come here.
It's a gamble. Luckily - it is a great bet!
So now, after almost 5 months, I'm about to leave Honduras, something that I don’t feel ready to do. Knowing that this part of my life gave me so much joy and peace makes it very difficult to accept the fact that it's time to go home soon.