Free Yourself from the Prison of Your Mind
By: Tara Vorst
The mind is a beautiful thing. It enables us to dream and envision the future as if we live in a world of endless opportunity. The children of Honduras have dreams; dreams of being astronauts, doctors, and engineers. Unfortunately, the culture here defines and outlines their futures for them. Their minds trick them into thinking they are incapable of pursuing their dreams. They are imprisoned by their own thoughts, believing that they cannot achieve their goals because of their status.
A Honduran, very close to us throughout the trip said, the cultural norm here is to accept the way they are perceived—dirty, poor, and limited. During our time spent here, we have tried breaking the norm and restoring the dreams in these individuals. I learned that a simple gesture to acknowledge one’s presence can help break down the barriers in their mind. We inspired them to dream again. I learned that holding them, loving them, and caring for them leaves an impact that is immeasurable. We pushed them to believe and have hope in a good future. And most importantly, I learned a simple smile can free one’s mind. The mind is a beautiful thing, until one loses the ability to free themselves from it.
By: Cameron West
As I got to the island an overwhelming feeling of love and joy came over me. I remembered playing and laughing with the children last year, and I couldn’t wait to see them again. When I finally greeted them with open arms and excitement in my voice they all responded in one accord with smiling faces, and with the same excitement. I got to hold and love every single one of them as they lined up waiting to meet us and be a part of the little project we had planned. At that moment, I could only imagine Jesus Christ and how he too met the children with open arms and with a heart full of love. I know I was given the opportunity to feel the same love that God has for all his children, and I will forever be grateful. Although I could only spend but a few moments with them, I knew that they wanted to spend more time playing and laughing. This day meant so much to me because it has helped me grow closer to my Father in Heaven, and has given me the opportunity to love others unconditionally as Jesus did.
Education with Limitations
By: Sam Wander
When I look at this picture, I see the countless number of children starting this world with strikes already against them. A strike of being born in an environment that is impoverished with little resources, and a strike of having parents that may not value education, or fully be aware of all of the opportunities in this world. Some of these children are being encouraged to go to school, but the school systems available to them are without qualified educators, pencils and paper, books, and more importantly, food with essential nutrients. Sitting in a classroom is so incredibly difficult with an empty belly and exhaustion. This explains why many of the students leave early in the day, dropout in order to support their family, and why the average Honduran has only up to a third-grade education.
These students are given the option to attend, and there appears to always be open doors or holes in the fence for easy access to leave. Nobody is stopping them from leaving, and there are also not many people telling them why they should attend. Having support systems for these students is so incredibly pertinent, and I believe that is where we come in and make a difference: a difference in explaining that an education can take them places, and make them the best version of themselves that they can be. The goal must be to turn an education with limitations, into an education with opportunities.
Be the Change
By: Adam Wagner
Be the Change. What do the words even mean, when we are only here for 16 days and have to do so many different projects? To me those words aren’t really just words, they are a sign of hope that I see in the future. Being the change is so much. There are so many things that you have to be do for change to happen. But for me if I add just a little bit to the bigger change, that me makes me feel good on the inside. It allows me to really think that what I do will affect so many people in different places and in different ways. The people that are affected by the change that I was a part of, I may never meet, but knowing that they are affected by me; makes me smile and feel good.
For me being a part of the change has meant so much more than what we have done down here. I was able to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps for the little time that we have been down here. And to me that means the world, as I only have one left. Being able to work with his tool belt on my side made me think about him with everything that I did, and how we were both being a part of the change. To me that is the coolest thing I can every do, I have been a part of the change while falling in my grandpa’s footsteps.
A Hunger for Education
By: Robby Thiel
A hunger for education is like that of a bottomless well. We can quench the need for short periods of time, but the well will never overflow. Over the course of education, we see many times where students don’t have the appetite to learn. Many of times their thoughts are wandering, a conversation with a peer takes precedence, or the value of education is not a top priority. While this can be a common sight in the United States, the value of education is taken as a priority for students in Honduras.
Having the opportunity to partake in the education system in Honduras, you recognize that the students do not attend because they are required, but because they have that hunger. Being a future educator, one of the strongest motivators is knowing that your students want to learn what you are teaching. The amount of fulfillment that you receive from knowledge being gained is like none other.
Observing one of my biggest influences making that connection with this little boy was tear-jerking. Here is someone that I seek advice from on a weekly basis, I have taken classes from, and has greatly impacted me. This little boy in the photo who grew up countries apart, received that same attention I have received over the past few years, in just a matter of seconds. I hope that other student’s will also have their thirsts quenched just as this boy received for his hunger for education.
A Treasured Tejaban
By: Matthew Rinta
From a glance, all I could see was a house built with sticks, rope, tin metal, and mud filling in the cracks. When you entered the doorway, there was a foundation not of concrete, but of dirt, a hammock for a bed, and sheets hung up to make walls. On the wall across from the front door, there’s a photo of a boy in a cap and gown who has graduated from the third grade. This is huge and well-celebrated accomplishment for this family. Most people will never notice the photo, or the grandma who hung it, nor the sibling rivalry or the joy that makes this place a home. As an American, my day to day life consists of trivial things such as: upgrading my cell phone, the new pair of shoes from the mall or deciding whether to eat at Taco Time or Wendy’s. We may differ in that the people here in Honduras live differently than most Americans. Hondurans are not concerned with cell phones, shoes, or options for food. They are happy to receive anything and everything, especially a meal. Our cultures may be very different, but when you look past the outside walls and step inside to see the family we are the same in many ways. Sharing our accomplishments – both big and small, we love, and support one another. Because of this experience, and the connection I have with the photograph, I will always look for the photo hung by the proud grandmother wherever I go.
A Shared Reflection
By: Abby Motter
A messy painting experience and front-facing camera created a warm laugh and an invaluable lesson. When Osman held up his phone, we both were looking at our reflections: our similarities, our differences, and our shared purpose. Almost a week later, I watched the vocational agriculture teacher at Apacilagua share a front-facing camera with his students, this time for a selfie. Once again, their reflections displayed commonalities and variations; however, from an outside perspective, it illustrated awakened potential and an investment.
Education has the power to uplift people and societies for several reasons. But ultimately, it has this power because of those who give the gift of learning and more importantly those who take the time to show others their worth. Witnessing educators in Honduras has left me with more questions than answers, but it also has given me faith that despite the challenges a teacher’s impact isn’t measured by their resources, only by their compassion.
Teaching students with empty stomachs and worn uniforms in a classroom with hot temperatures and zero school supplies is a reality. Having a teacher who treats you like a feral animal, switches you until you scream, only shows up to class two days a week, and continues to receive a government paycheck with 100% job security is also a reality.
Students of this country have dreams that were planted by hearts of the selfless and strong. This week I have witnessed the power, responsibility, and future we all share when we intentionally shine our light onto others.
By: Cody McClain
We, as human beings, are creatures of building and connecting relationships with those in our environment. We have ears to hear what others are saying, eyes for seeing what others are doing, and mouths for communicating our thoughts, our ideas, and goals. Even though every human being is their own unique person, we all are gifted with power to interact and develop relationships with people around the world. The creation of these relationships allows us to build bridges that connect our culture with another culture such as the Honduran culture. There is great knowledge and values that lay deep within this culture. By taking the time to listen to other people’s stories, we learn the similarities that help us connect the two different cultures. These connecting bridges provide us with the opportunity to engage ourselves into a new Honduran lifestyle. As we continue to explore the culture, we receive the opportunity to grow our perspectives and understandings of the world. Because life is a team sport, we can build these bridges together. By being part of a specific team in Honduras, I have had the opportunity to integrate my special talents and strengths with others. Sharing my love and care has helped me continue to bring people together to transform the world. I have enhanced my understanding that listening and communicating with one another and letting the wisdom guide us, we improve the quality of life for those in need. These bridges are the key to leaving a legacy.
Cut Off From Innocence
By: Emelia Martin
This is a picture of a 9-year-old girl who is cutting off fins and gutting dead fish she caught earlier in the day. This is her job.
I chose this picture because as cute as this girl was, as proud as she was to work, she is still just a child. She is child who has been cut, just like the fish, from her innocence. She has been stripped of a childhood of playing, laughing, and going to school because it is her responsibility to provide. The hardest part of this reality for me is these kids miss out on the childhood they should have; they become grown-ups too soon. They don’t get to be innocent.
In the United States we see children who are also stripped of innocence and a childhood, but usually not because they’re obligated to work. In June, I will start my internship at a summer camp for children with life-threatening conditions and diseases. These kids have been stripped of their innocence too because of their illness. They often don’t get to go to school or play outside because they are attached to machines twenty-four hours a day. My time here has inspired the way I will interact with kids at camp to help them get part of their childhood back. I want to make sure they laugh and play and know what it’s like to be a kid—a normal kid, not a kid with a disease that has taken their childhood away from them.
My Little Piece of Home
By: Sarah Landis
Max is the three-year-old son of a family who works with the mission we cooperated with while in Honduras. His parents are raising him bilingual which is interesting because it is difficult for a child that age to keep the two languages apart. He would run up to us and start talking in a little bit of Spanish and a little bit of English. Not only was this cute to all of us, but also it was comparable to the language barrier we were all faced with. Just like Max, we too had to try to understand the culture we were living in. Many of us, including myself, knew hardly any Spanish if not at all, yet we had to survive in a Spanish speaking culture for sixteen days. We found other ways to communicate and had to go out of our comfort zones to try and express ourselves to others. By the end, we were learning the ways of a Honduran just as Max does daily.
Max also served as a sense of home to me. I love children and caring for children. Every time I was able to play with Max, I felt like I was at home doing what I love. For someone who gets homesick easily, this was just what I needed to make it through the study abroad trip. Max was a surprise in this trip that I was extremely thankful for.