Volunteers - continued
for the Long Haul
say hello first
Always be the one to make the effort. Sometimes this is hard and exhausting, but
do it anyway. Learn people´s names and use them. Even if your Spanish isn´t
great, smile and greet every person you meet. If you don´t, your Honduran
associates or neighbors will feel offended.
Learn to laugh at
As you adjust, learn your job, and practice your Spanish, you will make lots of
mistakes—some funny, some not. Accept this as part of finding your place. Other
people will laugh at you—it´s funny when someone says at lunch that they like
the pecado, “sin,” when they mean pescado, “fish”—if you don´t laugh along, you
will grow bitter.
I´ve found that many volunteers put a lot of demands on themselves and their
time in an effort to help other people. While, in theory, this is noble, in
reality you´ll just find yourself exhausted and burned out. Put your heart into
your work and community but take time for yourself. Keep in touch with friends
and family. Travel if you can. Stay physically and mentally healthy.
Take comfort in
Get to know your fellow volunteers. Seek them out when you are having a hard
time. You will be surprised that even the people with whom you don´t connect or
with whom you don´t have things in common are willing to listen and support you
on a bad day. They´ve been there too. Think of your relationships with the other
volunteers as brotherly-sisterly ones.
You usually don´t get to pick the group of volunteers with whom you live and
work and you probably will not get along with everyone, all the time, but you
are stuck together. Be flexible and forgiving in your relationships—volunteers
are under new, strange stresses and, unfortunately, this sometimes this shows
itself in their behavior toward others.
Don´t take things personally.
I wish you the best, dear Volunteer, as you go to the beautiful land of
Honduras, a place that has shaped me and taught me uncountable lessons. As much
as you give, be open to what you will receive--during my time here I have
received far more than I have given. I have been changed and blessed by my time
in Honduras and I am certain that you will be too.
Que le vaya muy bien,
Amelia Cook (pictured above)
Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos
La Venta, Honduras
Amelia Cook has worked as ghost tour
guide, yogurt sample girl, and freelance music reviewer before coming to
Honduras as a volunteer. She currently lives outside of Tegucigalpa at Nuestros
Pequeños Hermanos, www.nph.org, a home for 500 orphaned children. She spends her days
teaching long division and her nights reading Jorge el Curioso over and over
again. In her free moments, she rambles a bit of her experiences in Honduras at
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