Roots to Stars
“Hello Miss, es Lesther, how are you?”
I still get voice messages on Facebook from this little friend that I taught almost two years ago. My time teaching at VSBS was absolutely wonderful. But before I share about that, you should know that I knew nothing of SHH before setting foot in Honduras.
When I was a senior in high school I was drawn to Central America and visited El Salvador. On my last night on that trip, I laid in a sleeping bag under the stars on the beach and made a promise to return to Central America.
I am a chicana. I never really invested in my Mexican culture until that trip. After college I found myself teaching [my degree is in psychology] at a charter school in Connecticut [away from my Indiana roots]. When the year came to close, I admitted to the director about my dream to return to Central America, she proceeded to tell me about Caroline [then program director at VSBS]. Months later, I was on a flight sponsored by a mentor to Honduras. I knew no one and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I was blessed to teach kindergarten at VSBS in 2016-2017. I had 31 and a tremendous aid, Osiris. I learned a lot that year about child development, Honduran culture and myself. I walked into teaching because I adore children and I value education. I was the first high school graduate and still the only college graduate in all my extended my family. Pursuing my own advancement in education led to opening many doors, so I concretely believe that a decent education can help families break the cycle of poverty and diminish some oppression on struggling families.
Between teaching some English sight words, finger painting self portraits, reading books about famous folks like Tito Puentes, using blocks to do some addition and dancing Zumba. We practiced compassion, understanding and discipline. From tying shoes, to comforting some tears and even rescuing a fallen bird. My students taught me patience, organization and most of all imagination. To spend seven hours a day with 5-year-olds is a very humbling, tiring and rewarding experience.
Leaving these little friends was one of the hardest things I had to experience. I invested so much in them and sometimes I felt like a secondary parent. I adored and respected them so much. I hope that many people get to experience something like this. Spending time in a foreign culture, completely immersed and doing something unfamiliar [which was teaching for me].
The cohort of teachers from America also contributed to the beauty of this year. We lived together, ate together, and participated in many extracurriculars together including dancing bachata, getting a natural juice or baleada, hanging out in the park on Sundays and the occasional weekend trip to the beach or a neighboring country. Living in community with like-minded people who are going through the exact same situations as myself made this life change [although temporary] much easier, and more exciting.
Now I am back in Indiana, working as an executive associate with a grassroots, nonprofit that empowers multi-faith, multiracial congregations in Indiana to stand up for economic, racial and social justice, Faith in Indiana. I’ve always had a heart for community organizing and that’s what I do. I’m hoping to visit VSBS soon.