Michael Woods, Honduras (2005-2007)
I graduated from Western Washington University in June of 2005 with a Major in Spanish and Minors in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. As with most seniors in college, me puse a cavilar (I started thinking) about what I wanted to do with my future. I have always had a passion for working with youth; more specifically at-risk youth, and Latin American Cultures. This passion for Latin America and working with youth guided me to apply for the Peace Corps.also not knowing what to do after college and hoping that it would direct me towards a career path, which it has.
In March of 2005, I received my Invitation to serve as a Rural Youth Development Volunteer in Honduras, Central America. Although I have previously traveled extensively throughout Latin America, I knew nothing about my country where I would be completing my service as with most Peace Corps Volunteers.
I departed the States for Honduras on September 21, 2005 and immediately commenced three months of intensive language, safety and health, and technical training regarding working with jóvenes hondureños y sus familias (Honduran youth and their families.) I swore-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) on December 8th.
I have been in-country now for a little over a year and have loved every moment of my service. I live in a small rural community in southwestern Honduras, very close to the border of El Salvador where there are approximately 1600 inhabitants. All I can say is that it is Hot.we are currently approaching the end of winter and it is still in the low 100s in direct sunlight on some days. I also recently learned that here we have wild armadillos and turtles in our ecosystem.
I currently work with the local Elementary School, the local Middle/High School and with an NGO called Shoulder to Shoulder. My primary projects this year have included training teachers in English Education and Methodology, HIV/AIDS Prevention, Junior Achievement (business programs for youth), teaching computers, and my main project is a Girls Empowerment project through my NGO called ¡Yo puedo!, which focuses on fomentar el liderazgo femenino y desarrollar habilidades de negocios (promoting female leadership and business skills) among 5th and 6th grade girls.
I spend most of my free time hanging out in the main plaza talking with friends, playing with the kids and just getting to know my community better. I can tell you that the weirdest and most rewarding feeling I have experienced as a Peace Corps Volunteer has been hallarme (feeling at home) in a foreign community; it's a feeling you cannot explain.
Peace Corps is definitely "the toughest job you'll ever love" as it completely challenges you in all aspects as it impels you to rely on your life experiences as mecanisms to facilitate social change and promote sustainable development.
For me, joining the Peace Corps was the toughest, yet la mejor decisión que yo haya tomado en toda mi vida (the best decision I think I have made in my life).
Your Peace Corps Experience; should you decide to serve, is what you make of it. I promise that joining the Peace Corps will be an amazing and life-altering experience. Peace Corps gives you the ability to challenge yourself to the extreme and to acquire a more holistic cultural view and understanding of the world in which we live.
Nunce es tarde para bien hacer; haz hoy lo que no hiciste ayer.
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