Well, here goes my first blog attempt.
I will be living and working in Guaimaca, a town in Honduras, starting January 14, 2011. I still do not really know what "working" entails, but I will probably combine some teaching and working in a health clinic.
The service program I am going to be a part of is called the International Extension Program, run by Stonehill College, and is the pioneer year for this program in Honduras. Two other sites, one in the Dominican Republic and one in India, are in their second years. I am looking forward to becoming one of the first year long volunteers at the Guaimaca Mission, which includes the Marie Poussepin Center (a girls school grades 7-12), the St. Rose of Lima health clinic, and the organic Nazareth Farm. Our volunteer group includes two other Stonehill alumni and one Northeastern Coop student...I am very excited to get to know them and start to build our community!
Now that we have less than a month before departure, I suppose I should start to think about packing. I have been preparing all summer and fall for this, but I get the feeling that, no matter what I have done, January 14th will be a huge shock for me. I have received all my vaccinations, taken every opportunity I can get to practice Spanish, started reading up on public health theory and practices, taught myself how to drive stick (and count cards, but I will try not to use that in Honduras), I have read a little about the culture and listened to podcasts, I spent time volunteering in three Detroit classrooms...and I know that, when I step off that plane in Tegucigalpa, none of that will amount to very much. The only thing I know with certainty is that the first month or two (at least) will be extremely difficult. I am only slightly ashamed to admit that there may be some crying.
But, hopefully the rewards will be far greater. I am not the most self-confident person, but I am confident in my ability to step into a difficult situation and to make it better. That quality defined my high school years, helped me define my person in college, and now will help me define my place in the world, post-college.
Below I have posted my pre-service journal, describing experiences I recently had volunteering in three classrooms in Detroit and living with some Teach for America educators for a week. That week not only introduced me to some new aspects of the classroom, but also to some of the factors affecting an impoverished population, indirectly through contact with student achievement, and directly through some experiences walking down Woodward Avenue. The journal is a little long, and pretty rough, but I had a lot of thoughts that I wanted to express.
So, thank you for reading, enjoy, and check back over the next year to read about my experiences working in Honduras!