My name is Vania Clark, and I'm one of the teachers here from Silverhill, Alabama. I first came to Honduras four years ago on a missions trip, and knew instantly that this is where I was meant to be forever. A lot of people have a very incorrect idea of San Pedro Sula, Honduras because all they're shown on the news and in the media is the bad. Of course, there's some things to use common sense with, but that is something that has to happen literally anywhere you go in the world, not just San Pedro Sula. This place is one of the most beautiful places with some of the most impacting people. The people here are so welcoming and open. Fast forward four years later in my story, I finished college and moved back here permanently. I wasn't sure what I was going to do here, just that the first step was to come. A few months after moving here, I received a message from a friend of mine saying she'd sent my information to someone who has a school here. The next day, I received a call asking me to go in for an interview a couple days later. During that interview, I instantly felt like I'd found where I wanted to be and that I'd found a family to be a part of. In this school, your coworkers will become some of your best and closest friends in a short amount of time. It really does feel like a family. You'll fall in love with each of your students, even the crazy ones. Teaching is hard because you're responsible for teaching other people things they'll need to know forever, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences. You may have moments of frustration or even wonder if what you're doing is making a difference when that one student still doesn't want to work, or that one student still doesn't understand after the third time. But those moments are little compared to the countless moments of joy you'll experience with these students. To these students, you're more than just a teacher. You're a friend, a safe person to talk with about whatever is on their mind, or simply an encouraging word when they need it. If I could give any advice, it would be to just remember that ultimately, these are more than just students, these are the next generation, and to be able to teach them even for a little while is one of the biggest honors you'll get to have. I wouldn't trade the experiences I've been able to have here for anything, because they're that amazing. If you're considering coming here, I would highly suggest doing it, even if you're not sure what it would be like or if you would fit. There's a place here for everyone, and so much joy and love found here.
If you are passionate, hardworking, and energetic, I absolutely encourage you to try your hand at teaching here. There's no way to sugarcoat it -- teaching is a lot of work! But if you bring enthusiasm and patience to the project, you'll be successful and have a lot of fun. Honduras is a fascinating country with a lot of cool places to explore. The people are generally friendly and happy to talk to foreigners. Above all, being able to work with kids and shape young minds is a privilege that makes the hard work worthwhile.
My time at WBK Honduras has been a number of things – unique, exciting, and adrenaline-pumping as well as very challenging, stressful, and at times arduous. But let’s start with the positive aspects, which in my opinion, far outweigh the negative. I still vividly remember my first day in Honduras and the blast of culture that shot my way. From being introduced to the bustling downtown with its enormous cathedral nestled in central park, to eating carne asada con encurtido with bachata playing in the background, to hiking Coca-Cola mountain for a spectacular view of the city’s architecture, I knew that I was in for an adventure. I’ve gone scuba diving in the beautiful island of Utila, seen the spectacular Mayan ruins of Copan and Tikal, relaxed on the beaches of Belize and El Salvador, awed at the cobblestone streets and architecture of Santa Barbara, felt the third world hustle and bustle of capital cities San Salvador and Tegucigalpa, and partied my face off in Guatemala City. The chance to travel has been priceless – but coming to Honduras has given me the chance to do so many other things – to learn a new skill, to learn a new language, identify with a new culture, gain further appreciation for my own culture, and improve the lives of more than a handful of children who I have grown to love more than I ever would have imagined. To watch and live alongside the triumphs and the struggles of the people of this country has been truly enlightening. It has taught me patience, perseverance, and an almighty appreciation for this region known as Latinoamérica.
Let’s be clear, the experience hasn’t been all glitter and glam. Honduras is a dangerous country. It’s dirty. It’s really hot. Cold showers in the morning are not fun. I miss my dishwasher. However, these are small lifestyle changes that I believe even a slightly open-minded and flexible person will overcome. In my mind, the biggest challenge is the job itself. The school lacks resources, teachers, and administration. There may be times when you feel stuck and there isn’t anyone to turn to. You may not have the resources to fulfill a lesson plan or complete a project. But out of these struggles you learn how to solve problems, you learn how to make back-up plans, and you learn how to think outside of the box. These are valuable skills that will transfer to whatever career path you choose in the future. And you have the chance to help a young, growing NGO with a beautiful goal. Stay the course and it will be worth it.
And of course, there are the kids. Los niños. You love them. Then you hate them. Then you love them again. The kids are pretty wild, but you learn to discipline them. You’ll learn creative approaches. You’ll learn how to think like a kid. They have wildly different personalities as well as learning abilities and previously learned English skills. I hope you’re ready to draw a lot of pictures. And obviously learning a new language is a slow process and it’s going to be frustrating but you can’t help but smile when some 3rd grader is going as hard as he can trying to explain the situation to you in broken but intelligible English with the occasional Spanish word thrown in there, Spanglish style. Then he asks you if you want a handful of his Doritos. My principal once told me, “they aren’t going to remember me, but they’re going to remember you guys.” Heck yeah they will. And I’ll remember them too.
Volunteering at Coral International Bilingual School has brought so much joy and opportunity into my life. I first went in 2015 and stayed for 10 weeks. The first couple of weeks were challenging, but by the end I didn’t want to leave. In such a short time I had made so many friends and connected so much with the students. After just a couple of months living there, Villanueva felt like home to me. That is why I’ve been back every summer since.
Teaching is hard work, but the kids at Coral make it worth it. They are so loving and grateful for the opportunity to learn. Coral has high expectations of their teachers and students. They are serious about providing a good education and know that good teachers are the most part of making that happen. Working at Coral gave me experience not only in teaching, but also in team collaboration, event planning, leadership and many other areas. I have always found the other teachers at Coral to be kind, passionate and welcoming.
Spending time in Honduras has provided me with so many amazing experiences. Before I visited, I had no idea that Honduras is such a beautiful country! There are mountains, jungles, beaches, and cities. The administrators at Coral are eager to help foreign teachers experience all that the country has to offer and often help coordinate trips on the weekends and during school breaks. Without the support of Coral teachers and administrators, I never would have been able to experience so much of this amazing country. I am incredibly grateful to have visited Copán, Tela, Roatán, Cayos Cochinos, and many other destinations that are now some of my favorite places in the world. Also my Spanish has improved so much from spending time in Honduras! This has provided me with more opportunities for teaching and other jobs back home.