By Mariam Japaridze, Rancho el Paraiso Intern
“No te vayas, Profe!” one of the students yells, blocking the door. Don’t go, teacher! It’s my last day in school, and the student in question is a boy in the 5th grade. For six weeks, I had been Profe Maria, their English teacher, and in half an hour I would just be Maria, the norteamericana. When the school day ends, my students (all one hundred of them) come up to me and say their final goodbyes. Some wave, some hug me, some yell, “Adios, Profe!” and some do all three. It’s quite the farewell.
Before I came to Honduras, I knew very little of what to expect. The news stories were always about drugs, violence, and poverty. Even though Laurie [HOI’s executive director] had told me about the strong presence of God in Honduras, it was hard to ignore the negative press. That all changed when I entered the school; my students greeted me with big smiles and an even bigger drive to learn. They were all excited about the English classes and were quick to use any English words they knew.
Over the course of six weeks, my students demonstrated to me how happy, hospitable, and hard working Hondurans are. Despite the poverty and the hardship, they still managed to smile, to hope, and to learn. Each week the students learned more and more English; by the end, they were using English words in conversations outside of school. Hard work and faith in God had paid off; the students studied and prayed each day, leading to them mastering basic English.
In just six short weeks, these Honduran children had learned so much, and so had I. They taught me how to value what I have, how to smile in spite of the difficulties, and how to keep pushing forward, even if you’re tired. They also taught me that trust in God can move mountains and give you a brighter future. I had come to teach English, but left learning more from my students than they learned from me.
When you come to Honduras, you won’t just be working for the community; you’ll be working for God. Through serving the people there, you will act as an ambassador of the Holy Spirit and a missionary for Jesus. You will also make lasting connections with Hondurans, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Trust me, you won’t regret a thing.
Mariam Japaridze served as an intern at HOI’s Rancho el Paraiso and Aldersgate Elementary School in summer 2013. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where she studied psychology and Spanish.