New Beginnings

Sean is an NPH USA international volunteer from Minnesota, who began his 13 month placement in NPH Honduras as an English teacher in June of 2018.
September 21, 2018 - Honduras

Sean and Mayra* enjoy a bite of juicy fruit together. Yum!

“What made you decide to become a volunteer?” I can't count the number of times I've been asked that question since arriving at NPH Honduras. It's a fantastic question and one which I struggle to answer to this day. In any case, I'll attempt to express my thoughts about becoming a volunteer with NPH and how I've transitioned to this new way of life.

There are many emotions that come along with deciding to leave your home for a year. They are different for every person. After discovering that I'd been offered a position with NPH, I was excited, happy, and extremely anxious to learn more about what I could bring to the new community.

Months passed, and I still had the same enthusiasm and excitement for the adventure ahead. It wasn’t until my final week in the U.S. that I began to feel nostalgic, sad, and slightly worried that I hadn't spent enough time improving my Spanish. I began thinking about my family and friends who I might not see or hear from for an extended period of time and even thought about the privileges that I had, such as easy access to water, internet, and different types of cheeses. But at the end of the day, those small worries and doubts didn’t change my mind.

My first days at NPH Honduras were crazy and overwhelming, but in the best way. I met so many people in such a short span of time, all of whom were extremely kind, welcoming, and willing to help.

The volunteer community was amazing and made me feel at home. We went on hikes, ate meals together, played games, and spent time in ‘los hogares’ – the homes that the kids live in - to get to know the children. I found myself passing the entire weekend in my hogar, playing with the kids and teaching them new games. Card games like Spoons and War were especially popular, to the point that they would ask me, “Sean! Did you bring the cards?” every day as I walked through the door. It warms my heart to see the kids having so much fun with the games I taught them.

As beautiful as life at NPH can be, sometimes there are difficult days. The role of a volunteer is huge when considering the amount of time spent at work, in hogar, decorating (fellow child educators will understand), and participating in activities. There are moments when I miss having some personal time to exercise, cook, binge watch a series on Netflix or do absolutely nothing.

That's why many volunteers, including myself, take advantage of the free weekends in order to travel outside of NPH. The city of Tegucigalpa has many exciting areas to explore. Personally, I find the neighboring town, La Venta Vieja, to be very relaxing and rejuvenating. There, I can get a haircut, grab a bite to eat, visit with locals, and even teach a word or two of English when requested.

Although the itinerary of a volunteer can be overwhelming at times, the rewards we receive greatly outnumber the difficult days or stresses. The privilege to work at NPH is incredible and presents an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the wonderful kids who live here. For that reason, I chose to be a volunteer. In addition, I believe the reasons why many of us choose to be volunteers are because we have a desire to help, a curiosity of other cultures, a strong sense of adventure and want to meet new people and make great friends.

It is that sense of exploration and a passion to watch others accomplish their dreams which drives me. No matter what challenges I or the children at NPH have confronted, we all have been given a chance to get ahead here. As the well-known artist and animator Walt Disney explained it, “around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we are curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

*Names changed for privacy purposes

Sean Hawkinson   
English Teacher




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