“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winnie-the-Pooh
For those who do not know, I have been living in Juticalpa, Honduras as a volunteer teacher for the Olancho Aid Foundation, for about the past ten months. During this time, I have pushed myself outside my comfort zones, gone on countless adventures, made lasting friendships, and worked my butt off. Sadly my time here has come to an end, and looking back in review I know I have made lasting memories.
Bitter/Sweet emotions crowd my thoughts as I wait here at the airport to catch my flight back to the states. Bitter about the great people and environment I am having to say goodbye to, yet very excited about the next chapter that awaits me in my life. A chapter that includes going to Europe this summer (Lifelong dream) and going back to school (Texas Tech University) for a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. But as I sit here, all I can truly focus on is the great memories and people that made this year so special.
I am not usually the type of person that gets too attached to a place, but Juticalpa will truly always keep a piece of my heart. This is a testament to the people and students who really made me feel like Juticalpa was a home away from home. It is hard to say goodbye to the people and a place that I have called home for almost a year now. A home that welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like one of the family. A home that challenged me and pushed me to be a better person. It is a home I will never forget. So thank you to all the people who made Juticalpa feel like home.
I really want to thank three groups of people: the Olancho Aid Foundation Staff, fellow volunteers, and most importantly the students.
Olancho Aid Staff
Thank you to all the staff for guiding me and welcoming me into the Foundation. As a whole, the foundation was very supportive and I can truly see the passion individuals have for their work. I especially want to thank the Instituto staff who I closely worked with. Thank you for being patient with me and your constant support. It was a privilege to be a part of the staff and try and serve the students as best we could.
My Fellow Volunteers
Thank you to my roommates and fellow companions on this journey. It was an honor to get to know each one of you. It’s been real! I’ll save my more personal comments to tell each one of you individually.
I most importantly want to thank the students, who are exceptional people. It was an absolute privilege to get to know these individuals. I can honestly say each and every one of them is unique and talented in their own way, and when motivated can absolutely amaze people. But more than just their talents, they are wonderful human beings. Sure, everyone doesn’t always act as the best version of themselves, but when they let their true selves shine through you get to see the true treasure they have to offer the world. This was by far my favorite thing about teaching, getting to know the students past just what they know in the classroom but who they are as individuals. I learned so much from them, I hoped they learned a little bit from me. I am excited to hear about what they are going to do in the future. If they are reading this I hope you always work hard, be yourself, make connections, and don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zones. Just think what would Mr. D do and you will never go wrong (haha just kidding). So thank you students, and good luck!
Until Next Time
So I bid you farewell Honduras. You are a special place with some special people and I hope to come visit soon.