My first year teaching adventure
After finishing up grad school in San Diego, I had a few options: move back to where I grew up, stay in San Diego and try to survive on a teacher’s salary, or try someplace new. After weighing those options, I decided to let my adventurous side win and traveled to Honduras to live and teach 5th grade. After dropping that bomb on my family and friends, I began to prepare myself for my first year teaching adventure.
Before arriving in Honduras, I didn’t know what to expect. Not only was it my first year of teaching fresh out of grad school, but I was living in a foreign country and teaching subjects that were outside my topics of study.The pictures I had in my head were of me walking down a dirt road to a run-down building where I taught students who were struggling to survive on a daily basis. When I was packing my 4 large bags for my year in Honduras, I packed everything from school supplies for students to pots and pans for my house.
I definitely underestimated how developed the city of Tegucigalpa is.
I soon came to find out that I would be driven to and from The International School of Tegucigalpa each day on paved roads where I taught at a beautifully manicured school that housed students from affluent families. Much different than anticipated.
Luckily, I was one of 4 sections of 5th grade, and two of the other 5th grade teachers had been teaching there for four years. My team of 5th grade teachers is really what allowed me to enjoy my first year of teaching. Each Tuesday, we would all take the public bus to a mall and map out our lesson plans for the following week. As a new teacher, this was priceless. We would each have a subject we were in charge of, and we only had to create lessons for that specific subject, which was then shared to everyone at those meetings.
Even though we lived in the 5th most dangerous city in the world, I predominantly felt safe. I lived with 2 other guys in a nice neighborhood that had a “watchy-man” that stood as guard for the entire street. This “watchy-man” duty was split between a few different guys who walked the street carrying a large rifle. This became the norm. Men...carrying large guns...protecting houses, grocery stores, banks...you name it.
One of the unforgettable trips we went on was during Spring Break. We took a bus up north, passed through the world's most dangerous city (San Pedro Sula), where we were able to cross the border into Guatemala, then take a boat from Guatemala into southern Belize. We then stayed in Placencia Belize during the entire week of “Semana Santa”. The only tricky part about this trip was not which beautiful area we want to snorkel in next, or which guided tour we wanted to do, but how we were going to get back home since almost all businesses shut down during this week. We were then left with one option. A 20-person boat that got packed with 30 people and their luggage that somehow made it to Honduras before getting capsized. The trip started on a beautiful sunny day but soon turned to a cloudy windy day as we were somewhere between Belize and Honduras. There was no land in sight..only waves. We were all planning what we were going to do WHEN our boat capsized, not IF it capsized. Which was probably the same time we all took the life jackets from under our seat and securely placed them around our soaking wet bodies. As land began to come into view, my grip on my seat became less firm. We finally made it to land, and people were literally kissing the ground once we arrived....Oh what a trip.
The adventure out of the country were great, but so were the adventures within. There are beautiful islands called Roatan and Utila off the north coast of the Honduras that are the most picturesque of any of the tropical places I have been to (including Maui, Jamaica, and Belize)
Regardless of where you are teaching and your adventures along the way, your resources really do make all the difference. And I’m not talking about beautiful textbooks or new computers, the resources that really matter are the people. People you can bounce ideas off of, and people that can help guide you along the way. I am thankful for my first year teaching adventure and hope others can experience this same type of adventure of teaching abroad.