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Foreign Territory

Have you ever committed to a decision only to realise afterwards, “Oh crap! What have I got myself into?” That was more or less my experience after a week in the classroom. Coming from the familiarity of a mechanical role, the move to Honduras was a leap in the deep-end. Two motives had led me here; a love for and desire to help less privileged children and, a want to explore and experience immersion in Central America. A change in employment status was the perfect catalyst to step out from the comforts of home.

After a semi-thorough process of searching available options, I narrowed my search to a handful of choices based on the type of program on offer, centrality to the region I wanted to explore, and length of time available for my stay based on costs and expenditure. Garden School Victoria ticked the boxes and after a seamless application and interview process, I was soon boarding a flight for the 3 day journey to Honduras.

Arriving in San Pedro was a step onto familiar territory as I had explored some of the region previously. 8 years in Papua New Guinea had prepared me for many of the challenges I would face during my stay, however, I was now living in a non-English-speaking country. As I had mentioned to Liz (the Volunteer Co-ordinator), the first 6 weeks in the classroom was what I was dreading the most, however, the sink-or-swim method of being thrown in the deep end proved effective as I quickly learnt strategies and techniques for survival. A classroom full of children was foreign territory, and the gravity of the teaching role sobered me as I quickly realised I was now responsible for shaping the minds and characters of a future generation.

Although I have only just broken the 6 week mark and have yet to see the fruit of my labours, the journey so far has had its rewards. We are accommodated comfortably and supplied with sufficient provision daily. The volunteers I have met so far are supportive and generally like-minded. We take turns to share the workload, and have time to socialise and explore beyond our front yard.

What had grabbed my attention the most was the freedom and level of interaction we had with the children. Not merely restricted to the classroom, but also during recess and outside of normal school hours. Being a part of their community, we would meet them in the street and oftentimes are welcomed into their homes to meet their families. During play times, I would find myself volunteered to be a part of their games. The highlights, so far, are the amount of attention and unsolicited hugs I have received, and witnessing a transformation in the level of social interaction of some of my quieter kids.

With 3 months remaining until the end of the school year, I know that what seems like a long time will roll around quickly. Hopefully by then I would have picked up enough Spanish to hold a conversation, and planted some good seed in the hearts and minds of the children I came to reach.

Brisas de Valle, Honduras

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