Winner of the ESU Lincolnshire’s 2021 Travel Grant, Jodie Rhodes, finally got to Honduras and sent an update to give us a flavour of her adventures.
The ESU has a long history of helping students travel to far-flung places to communicate and bring new ideas and experiences back home and the Lincolnshire branch is no exception. After a necessary hiatus, the travel scholarship scheme is now back in action and has helped to fund the intrepid and impressive Spalding High School leaver Jodie Rhodes on her trip to Honduras.
Travelling to Yamaranguila in western Honduras with Project Trust, Jodie was thrown in at the deep end, helping out at a home for children in the local foster care system and at a local school, and she has written a colourful report evoking the joy of being so far away and enjoying the excitement of a different culture.
Helping to teach children English and Maths proved more demanding than expected when, one day in, the main teacher had to return to the United States leaving Jodie and her project partner Honor to adjust rapidly to new responsibilities.
‘I have a new found respect for teachers because this is exhausting (but still rewarding). The younger kids are adorable. In my free periods, I go and sit with them and help them with their assignments or play with them to give them a break. I was given my first drawing as a teacher and they all hug me goodbye (unless I’ve made them do a worksheet). The kids I actually teach are aged 7-13 years which makes teaching hard because of the wide range in abilities. As the children learn American English, I swallow my pride and spell colour without a “U” or say words in an American accent just so they understand what I am saying. And I have enjoyed seeing the children transition from communicating with me solely in Spanish to asking me things in English. They should be so proud of themselves!’
Honduras sounds very far from damp and stormy England and Jodie paints a wonderfully vivid picture:
‘We live on a large wooded plot of land, with fruit and coffee trees all around. The lemons are HUGE, think a little bit bigger than a grapefruit. Honduras is so green, mountainous and dusty. The houses are all colourful and they have lorries like the ones you see in American films – it still amuses me greatly! And I am both pleased and scared to say that I have met my first big spider and scorpion!
‘I hate coffee. But it’s so good here! The school’s head teacher owns a coffee farm in La Union and he gets it delivered to the school so we have a constant supply. I like it best black with sugar. In the UK, I don’t even really enjoy lattes because of the coffee taste.
‘Power cuts are quite common here. If we have no power, that means we have no electricity, Wi-Fi, or water. We have buckets of rainwater ready but it is the dry season so we have to be careful with how much we use. Power cuts usually consist of us roasting marshmallows (which are incredible here) over candle light, making baleadas (tortilla with refried beans) and mantequilla (thick cream cheese) and having heart-to-hearts. I love cooking and have learnt how to cook some traditional Honduras meals.’
For someone who only recently left home, Jodie seems in no rush to return and is busy immersing herself in her adventure and is demonstrating that communication is very much a two-way process.
‘I no longer get homesick and I am getting more and more settled each week. I was definitely ready to move out and discover my independence and new responsibility. My Spanish is improving. It’s still very limited but I can communicate in the markets and shops fairly easily. I have learnt the basic teacher phrases too. I have figured out what I say the most and learned that. Hondurans are lovely and are always trying to help me with my Spanish.’
We are already looking forward to Jodie’s next report and thank those who have supported the scheme to make such life changing experiences possible.