As we come to the end of our 10 weeks in Honduras, we have been reflecting on our experiences as team Yamaranguila and as individuals. Collectively we have made improvements to the local community centre, run four entrepreneurial skills workshops, held three events at the local school to promote a culture of peace, spearheaded a community clean-up, run an entrepreneurial recycling workshop, and contributed to the construction of an eatery business for the local youth network.
We've also had fun exchanging cultures and visiting other parts of this beautiful country. Here is our 10 week experience summarised in 10 questions!
What will you miss the most?
Charlotte: "I'm definitely going to miss my host family the most! Thanks to my host family, Honduras has felt like a home away from home, and without their care and support I think I would have struggled much more with homesickness. I'm really going to miss my host mum's cooking and having meals together as a family in the kitchen, whilst talking about life in Honduras and the UK. I'm going to miss being a big sister to my Honduran siblings who never fail to put a smile on my face, even after a tough day of work. My host family have also been the best Spanish teachers I could ask for! I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye, but I know we will keep in touch in the future!"
What will you miss the least?
Jasmine: "Having my patience tested every day."
What's been your favourite experience in Honduras?
Ama: "I've had a blast doing all sorts of things on the trip, but my favourite have been the times spent with the volunteer group having fun or going on day trips with my host family. I’ve had the chance to learn so much about people that I wouldn't normally be able to interact with and I have gained a lot of experience with their help. From climbing mountains to playing group games in the community centre, I have most enjoyed spending time with everyone. If I had to pick one favourite experience though, it would have to be the water park. Nothing beats splashing around in the sun!"
How have you developed personally during your time in Honduras?
Seb: "I have developed in so many ways over my time here in Honduras, here are just a couple. My Spanish has improved immeasurably to the point where I can communicate confidently with our national volunteers without the need for a translator. Additionally, I have learnt how to create fun and educational activities with limited resources. Rugby and English vocabulary practice are definitely a good combo!"
What you do you wish you'd known before coming to Honduras?
Dylan: "When I arrived in Tegucigalpa nine weeks ago I knew near to nothing about the country I was about to live in for 70 days. The thing I wish I'd known most is how genuinely welcoming and friendly Honduran families are. This would have helped me better get to know the first host family who looked after me for a week in a satellite town of the capital. I wish I'd known this sooner because it is only in the last two weeks or so that I've really started to bond with the host family I've been staying with. If I had known this earlier I would have had more than just two or three weeks of some of the best moments I've had in Honduras."
How would you pack your suitcase knowing what you know now?
Jay: "I would pack a more sensible rain coat; my bright pink Hawaiian-themed jacket makes me look like a walking fiesta!"
What has been the most challenging aspect of your experience?
Gwen: "The most challenging aspect has been dealing with a family death so far away from home and with limited Wi-Fi to contact home. Thankfully the team and my host family acted as my family and support system in Honduras and we were able to celebrate Bill Hyett's wonderful and inspirational life at the local Church and a mass was dedicated to him. Whilst it was incredibly difficult, it was poignant to celebrate his life the other side of the world and to appreciate that whilst life here is very different, there are certain aspects and emotions of life, such as the love and loss of family, that transcend culture and are universal."
What's your favourite part of Honduran culture?
Seona: "I have been lucky enough to experience Honduran culture through the lens of living in El Carrizal; a beautiful, friendly, tight-knit community in the heart of Intibucá. It is precisely this which has been my favourite part of Honduran culture. Family is such a pivotal anchor in this community, so much so that everyone calls themselves 'primos', or cousins, and young children won't go more than a day without seeing their 'abuelita', or grandmother. However, beyond immediate family circles, everyone is treated as an equal. Mothers care for other children as their own, to the extent that abandoned children are mothered and brought up by others. Moreover, on a day-to-day basis, passers-by, for example on the way to the 'pulpería', or corner shop, always greet each other with a friendly 'buenos días' or 'buenas tardes'. This poses a distinct contrast to the caution with which we treat strangers/passers-by back in the UK. It is this inclusiveness, friendliness, and community spirit which has been so endearing, and over the past 10 weeks has been so welcoming and helped me immerse myself into the local culture, beyond a point that I could have ever imagined."
How has your ICS experience affected your outlook on life?
Raf: "One word. Patience. We, as Brits, live in a society where we demand efficiency and speed, immediately. Here, you can wait 30 minutes for a bus, and it is just accepted the bus comes when it comes. In England, if its two minutes late, people start to fret. Priorities are different as the daily stressors of life are graver for many people in Honduras. Seeing the humble way in which people live in this area, gives rise to personal reflection on the life I live in England. Although the desire to improve quality of life is rife, the continuous requirement for excitement and stimulation is not apparent. Some of these people are the most content I have ever met, even with so little. Simple pleasures are something in our Westernised world that goes largely unnoticed due to our strive for material gain. My outlook has certainly changed, and it's to see the bigger picture."
Summarise your ICS experience in one word!
Unforgettable, Turbulent, Rollercoaster, Worthwhile, Unpredictable, Trying, Rewarding, Inspiring, Challenging, Transformative.
Through the ups and downs we have had an experience we will never forget and are so grateful to everyone we have met along the way who has supported us in our ICS journey!
Written by ICS Team Yamaranguila