A Travellerspoint blog

Training, Our First Day of School, and other Tid Bits.....

I need to start resisting the urge to catch the baby geckos. But they're so darn cute crawling up my wall.


I wrapped up my week of training this past Friday. It was intense, it was quick, and made me a teacher in five days!
I can now write weekly AND yearly plans and with the help of how-to youtube videos, control the behavioral climate of a classroom.

The one thing training did not do however, was make me a good speller. Which I am teaching. Which I find mildly hilarious.

School went great. Its really like the stage. Much like my waitressing job. Except with a little more attitude. Think Fanny from "Sense and Sensibility" meets Sister Prejean from "Dead Man Walking." As a reminder--I'm teaching 4-6th grade--spelling and reading. So far so good. Only a couple problem kids. Easily dealt with once I pull out the Fanny face. But this year will definitely take a lot of energy. And I have a heck of a lot more respect for my past teachers. If you see an old teacher, love them, massage their feet, kiss their hands and say "Why for the love of the Lord, do you do what you do for the amount you get paid?"

or for free for that matter....This is a picture of us after our first day of teaching (some of us were more dramatic than others)

But lets make this quick. Here are the highlights:

The Honduran teachers are....how shall I say?.....super fly! I had a conversation with one of my cousins, Chelsea, before I left and I was sharing my concerns about how I'd fit into this culture. Would I fit in better in a European culture as opposed to an Asian..etc. ect. (I still don't really know what I'm talking about as all I have to go on are generalizations)

She said that Latino/Hispanic culture would fit me like a glove. And boy, do I feel like I've known these people for years. When I am able to get a picture up of these crazies, I'll go into more detail so you can put names to faces. But many have offered to take us to the beach, go shopping, go dancing, fix us up with their brothers...:) Just kidding Dad. Well....sort of.

Most of them speak fluent English, only a handful struggle. But we find our ways to communicate. My super secret plot right now is to get all of the staff to be in an ESL shortened version of Midsummer Night's Dream to be performed at the end of the year...we'll see.

Other highlights:

Brenda, Hannah, and I were feeling a little overwhelmed on Thursday---our internet wasn't hooked up, our washer was broken, we didn't know what a lesson plan was, we didn't know how to get around for groceries etc....and we were feeling generally unloved by the administration. Then. Diana swept in, paid for our internet herself, arranged for our washer to be fixed, had us over to her house (complete with swimming pool) to work on our lesson plans, bought us dinner and gave us cerveza and champagne! As we were about to drive home in her truck, I asked her if I could ride in the back, as I had seen other Hondurans do down the center of San Pedro Sula. It was amazing. The city at night, flying by, taking in the locals who try to sell you strange fruit at stop lights.

Went shopping! I only brought one piece of luggage for 10 months. Very, very silly. Should've paid the $15 for the second piece. Needless to say-Shopping ensued! San Pedro, unfortunately or fortunately I don't know yet, has not escaped the clutches of our freaking pervasive American clutches. So it was fast, fun, and profitable!

One of the teachers I work with is an actress at one of the biggest theatres in San Pedro. She invited Hannah and I too a "dress rehearsal"......the theatre was beautiful. Huge elaborate set, gigantic cast of attractive actors. But this was not a "dress rehearsal". This was a let's-make-the-costume-designer-have-a-heart-attack event. Ok. I'm by no means a costume designer and to not boast to be connoisseur but these costumes were immaculate. Tailored, cut, creative, beautiful...and the director spent 2 and 1/2 hours critiquing and photographing every costume. (One of my favorite moments was when he told the lead female, who is in incredible shape, that she looked like she was pregnant in one of her costumes) So I have come to understand that presentation and detail are very important to the Hondurans. The show opens in a week or so and I'm going with the girls....we'll see how the acting is.... Below is a picture of Patty, the teacher by day, actress by night who shut her eyes, but I couldn't get her to sit still longer than that (a woman after my own heart). A group of the actors, AND a picture of the actress in the dress where he said she looked pregnant. Insanity.


I went to church with Jeanine, a fellow teacher, this past Sunday. It was a great experience. Massive church. And I stuck out like a sore thumb....pretty sure I was the only gringa in the sea of a thousand or more people. Jeanine translated for me, but I don't think its difficult to spot a great pastor when you hear one. One of my favorite things was the four different dancing troupes of about 40-50 people each that danced through the entire worship service (about an hour long). They were dripping with sweat. The only disconcerting thing to me about this church was the women had to wear scarves over their heads during any given prayer during the service. Jeanine told me this was to symbolize their dominion over the angels...and when I asked if the men had to wear them, she said, "The men are the head of the Church. Their dominion is assumed. We wear the scarves also as submission to the men. We submit to the authority of the men."

This something I can respect. And I didn't allow it to detract from my experience on Sunday. BUT I will be trying the church behind my house this coming Sunday.

And for my intercessors out there, which I cannot put into words how grateful I am to you, here are some of my prayer concerns:
I am here for a reason. I've been on this path for years now. I am finding it frustrating searching out God's will for me here. I don't really know how to precede and I've always lacked in the patience department.
Safety. Safety. Safety.
Health. Health. Health.
And me and the other teachers are picking up a lot of the trash from last year. It was not a good year for the school. So please pray for healing and how God can use me in that. Be a tool for renewal and not destruction.
And always for energy and love. In bulk, Costco-Sam's Club like amounts.
And for a good Church. Where I can find rest and jubilation every week.

Also here are the links to Hannah and Brenda's blogs if you want more detailed or different accounts of my journey!
Hannah: www.hannahstravers.blogspot.com
Brenda: www.brendasol.com

Posted by buscarme 16:58 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (1)

Primer Dia

It took me a minute. Then I realized it was my alarm, 2:45am. I sprung out of bed, not remembering where I was only that I was supposed to take a shower and I didn’t have a lot of time.
Then it all hit my like a truck. San Pedro Sula. Honduras. Nuestras Pequenas Rosas.
Ahora. Today. Este Dia. No manana. Ahora.
And like that, my fear was gone. These past few weeks, my anxiety has just been growing like weeds, creeping, growing deeper, sprouting little thoughts and flowers.
And kaboom. Gone.
My dad and Van dutifully got up at 3am. And drove me to the airport. Took us a minute, but we got there. And amazingly, Hannah, who I met at the interview in Miami was pulling up at the exact same time. We had decided it might ease the nerves to travel together…..I just wanted to travel with someone who spoke Spanish with a little bit of competence.
And then my bff, Mike, came and saw me off. He is a night owl and lives in the city, so it was perfect timing. Also, a friend of mine sent me a package, that I was supposed to open LAST SUMMER, but had been putting off. Mike and I were supposed to open it together. So I brought it to the airport. The two of us were in play in college called ‘Disciples,’ which was about the day after Christ’s crucifixition. But before his resurrection and the play asked the question, hey disciples how was Saturday—wondering if Christ told the truth or not? Do you like waiting for the unknown? Interesting, no? Moriah sent us our jackets from the show.
I said goodbye to my father and Van, waving frantically behind security, hit Starbucks with Hannah and headed to our gate. Got on the plane, slept. Hit Houston. Got on the plane, Hannah flirted with the gate guy to get us seats together and by the exits with more foot room.
We met a really interesting guy, Julio aka Julo. He had just gone to visit his new grandbaby in San Antonio, he is an engineer and accomplished author who gave Hannah and I copies of his books.
Landed in San Pedro, the foreign landscape just spilling out. I was ecstatic. In the midst of my squealing, I had to remind myself, “Em, you’re not getting on a plane in two weeks. This is home for 10 months.”
Got off the plane, went through customs…they didn’t ask me a single thing. Just stamped my passport.
We were met at the airport by Jim—an American volunteer and board member, Evelyn—the Honduran principle, and Brenda—a new addition to the teaching team.
We piled into a van and made our way to the home. The city is just beautiful. Poor, certainly, but very lively and everyone is friendly and smiles at you.
The girls were watching television when we first came in and Diana introduced us to them. The first thing I was struck by was how beautiful they all are. And I’m not talking about pity or pride in their circumstances led me to see them as beautiful.
And I felt like an idiot because some of them speak some English but I just feel like an idiot as I try to talk to them. But I will persevere. I was warned I’d feel like an idiot.
More on that later. I’m still working my way through that.
But I just have to say, I love the house. As we were going through the house and claiming rooms I walked into mine and I knew. I’m on the second floor, my room over looks the mountains that surround San Pedro. And I can see the flashing ‘Coca-Cola’ sign, set in the mountains. I think my favorite thing right now is hearing my neighbors, mis vecinos, calling out to each other, the sounds de mi vecindario. Los animales, la gente, el viento, el calor.
I just want to sit in a chair on a high pedestrian traffic corner and watch.
There is a big church behind our house. They are having their service now, and it sounds like my kind of inglesia.
So here it is, casa, mi casa. San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

My dog, by the Geneva river, on my second to last day in the states.
My mother and me saying goodbye
Mi Hermano
Daddy, Van, puppy, and CP
Hannah and I's first sight of Honduras
View from the second floor of the school
This is the Borredo (the slums) behind the school
This is Hannah and Brenda, my fellow teachers and housemates
And finally, me. Happy as a clam in my breakfast nook. Can you see the mountains out the window???? Gorgeous.

Posted by buscarme 16:39 Comments (4)

1 and Counting

Saying Goodbye to Genevaland

I don't have much to say, except the last few days have been a roller coaster. From a mini-break down with a dear friend to my furious packing frenzy (I totally had to use my entire body to get it closed), to a last hurrah with the Mill Race Inn girls and the Batavia theatre crowd. And lots of little fun bits between. My mom and I are queens of the world for getting my new digital camera for $30 via ebay! Ebay....so exhilarating. San Pedro Sula in 27 hours.

Here are some pics of Genevaland on my last couple of days.....


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I also would like to note that I've had some lonely summers in Geneva. But now, that could not be farther from the truth. Relationships are important to me, I am a relational person. I want to be engaging, interacting, fliting about. I enjoy my solitude, but I need others to continue to learn about myself and the world around me.

This year would've been a repeat of those summers if my little bubbles of interaction hadn't been so wonderful.

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Right now, I am sitting in the Holiday Inn with Van and my father, who drove up for the day and for some reason, volunteered to wake up at 3am to drive me to the airport. I started out the day with breakfast with my mother, walking to the Geneva Diner-we split the usual, the Greek eggs dishy thing. Yummy.

Talked about life, love, family, and other lovely things.

Then was picked up by my dad and Van. Picked up and paid for ridiculously expensive malaria medicine and ate at Costco. Stopped at bank, went to Miejer to use COIN MACHINE!! So fun, I had $35 in pennies. So I rewarded myself with a cute passport holder, a completely superfluous purchase.

Saw Ice Age 3 with dad, Van, and Alex. Could not focus on the movie, thought only about impending explosion of life.

Went out to dinner. Had fish and rice with a lot of lemon juice. Thought only of impending explosion.

Said goodbye to my mother, my brother, my dog. Not. Fun.

So here I am. On the brink. The moment right before the fall, the exhale, the string snapping, the kick off, the first line of a play.....some moment of insane anticipation of the unknown.


Here we go.

Posted by buscarme 05:57 Comments (3)

17 and Counting

"Lion's Mane" by Iron & Wine


This will be entry numero uno!

I have 17 days until I depart for San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I will be joining an organization called 'Our Little Roses' for 10 months. 'Our Little Roses' is an Episcopal organization that provides housing and hope to girls and women who have been abused or abandoned. OLR also boasts a school for the wealthier in the community to receive a top notch education. I will be teaching 1st through 3rd grade (reading, spelling, and phonics), hopefully developing a theatre program for the girls of the home, and taking some heavy duty Spanish classes--as my Spanish is more than limited. Below is a picture of the founder of OLR with some of the girls of the home.


Time is a funny thing. I have been working at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles, IL. I am the director of their summer program, working with over 80 kids, directing 6 shows, including two different productions of Macbeth. And while in the midst of this marathon of a summer, time both moved too quickly and too slow. Below is a picture of the me and my assistant director, Claire, with our first session of the summer, Frumpled Fairy Tales.


My final days have turned to water as I try desperately to keep them in my grasp. Tis the nature of such things, I think.

I am scrambling to get my vaccinations, figure out my packing situation, saying goodbye to friends and family, and pray that the money I have saved will hold over the coming months.

I was talking to my father yesterday about beginning to focus. And I didn't quite realize how scattered my thoughts have been. This growing anxiety has over taken me. I haven't been sleeping well. My thoughts seem always vibrating with anticipation and dread.

"...But God has not given us the spirit of fear but of peace, love, and a sound mind." This was a verse taped to the mirror of my grandparents' house for YEARS. And only now, am I realizing the power of it. But this is how He works, a whispering wind.

And in my focusing, I am beginning to see the grand scope of how this journey has come to be. I want to say it started in a classroom at Calvin College with one feisty and loving Spanish professor or a small packaging company in Batavia, IL....but I really think it started much sooner than that. When I lived in Texas, from 1994-1998, I met and became friends with a girl named Lorena from Venezuela. I remember being entranced by her fearlessness of life and the importance of family.

These next months are out of my hands and into my creator's. "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid," --Goethe.

So here's to learning how to be bold.

Posted by buscarme 12:10 Tagged volunteer Comments (10)

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