Students in Service

During the month of September we will be highlighting how students of Simpsonwood spent time in service over the summer. 

Anna Palmer is a Sophomore at LaGrange College, majoring in Education.  She spent 6 weeks this summer interning with HOI.

Anna Palmer - Headshot

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Honduras and spend 6 weeks teaching English to middle schoolers. I have been going to Honduras with our church (Simpsonwood UMC) for the past 3 years and wanted something more out of it, so when I found out about to internship for 6 weeks I immediately applied and got the job. I had 3 months before the trip and everyday I imagined what it was going to be like. I was going into this trip blind. I was a 19 year old college student with no previous experience with teaching at all and I wasn’t going with one person that I knew.  This was a total wake up call.

Getting out of her comfort zone

 

I was nervous and excited at the same time, but definitely a little more nervous. I never imagined myself teaching, especially teaching a second language to kids in my second language that I wasn’t fluent in. I’m definitely not the type of person to get up in front of people and just start talking so it was a challenge. It brought me out of my comfort zone and taught me so many things. By the 2 or 3 week of teaching, the kids started warming up to me and I starting getting more comfortable talking to them in Spanish. I knew the kids were warming up to me because every time I said something wrong in Spanish or I pronounced it wrong, they would all start laughing.

Making Learning Fun

Every Friday I played games with my kids. In their school, they don’t get to do things like that. They sit in a classroom for 3 hours, have a 20 minute recess break, and then sit in another classroom for 2 more hours. So I decided to switch it up and play Bingo and Uno with them. They absolutely loved it. To see the joy on their faces when I said we were going to play games today made my heart so happy. They were having fun while still learning English and this was good for them. At weeks 5 and 6 they started asking me and the other English teacher to play soccer with them at recess, and man are they good at soccer. They loved watching someone like me, (who doesn’t play soccer/hates running) run back and forth on a big field trying to kick a little ball in between 2 wooden posts.

Saying Goodbye

On our last day of teaching, my co-teacher and I decided to spend the whole day playing soccer with the kids. The smiles that filled their faces when we told them we were playing soccer all day for the last day was amazing. But then there came the frowns and the kids saying “No! Don’t leave!” It broke my heart to know that these 30 kids had liked me so much that they didn’t want me to leave. That was definitely something special. I’ve never gotten that many hugs in one day. They all kept asking me if I was coming back next year and it hurt to say yes because next year I plan to come with the church, and won’t be teaching.  but I promised to come visit.

Connecting with Others

My experience of staying at the ranch for 6 weeks was definitely different than staying there for only 1 week. I got so close to the other interns by day 3. The language barrier was one of the hardest things to come by on the ranch. With only a handful of people working and living there that speak English, so my Spanish had to get used a lot more. The interns and I got really close to the physical therapists and guards that worked on the ranch.  They were interested in learning English and we were more than willing to learn more Spanish.  And they wanted to spend time with us. We had a set schedule for our days. We would go to school or do whatever our other jobs were, come back and eat lunch, take a nap, and at 4:30 be out on the soccer field ready to play. This was the same routine every single day. The relationships just kept growing from there.

Saying goodbye was definitely the hardest part of the whole trip. We had gotten so close to each other and the staff at the ranch, that some of us discussed changing our flight and staying for another couple weeks. We had the trip of our lives and we were having to leave. I saw God work in so many ways when we were down there. He worked inside all of us as we went out into villages and taught. I personally am not much of a crier but on the last 2 days as we were leaving, the tears just all came out and wouldn’t stop. I knew that God had done something inside of me and changed me for the better. I can truly say, without a doubt, that this was the best trip of my life and I would go back in a heartbeat.