I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about my application to the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching program until I found out if I had been accepted. After all, there are many programs I’ve applied to and have not been accepted into, and I didn’t want to have to deal with the disappointment of another rejection. That promise didn’t last long. I was so excited about the prospect of going to Vietnam that I couldn’t resist mentioning it now and then during the five months between the time I submitted my application and the time I was accepted into the program. What I did not discuss, however, was that Vietnam would be just four months of a year-long leave of absence. So, it’s understandable that many people think I am going to teach in Vietnam for a year, but that is not the case.
After reviewing my goals for my trip and dealing with other logistics, I decided to explore volunteer opportunities in Central and South America for the summer. After investigating Cuba, Mexico, and a return to Bolivia, I ended up committing to a program in a country that wasn’t even on my radar: Honduras.
Honduras Child Alliance is an organization that promotes health and education in El Porvenir, a village on the northern coast of Honduras. I chose to volunteer here because of all the places I investigated, they were clearly experienced in working with international volunteers and were making a meaningful impact in their community.
I found Honduras Child Alliance on one of my favorite volunteer websites, Omprakash.org. (This is the same site I used to find the Social Development Center in Kathmandu, Nepal where I volunteered last year.) On this site, you can read reviews and ratings from other volunteers, contact the organization and past volunteers, and learn many of the details of what it would be like to live and work in that location. I was impressed with the fact that they require an interview via Skype, an application, and references. They also value your time as a volunteer and are not charging exorbitant fees for the privilege of volunteering.
Organizing volunteer experiences is now a money-making industry that charges thousands of dollars a week for the opportunity to have a volunteer experience. Omprakash is great at matching volunteers with organizations that want nothing more than your time.
I’ll be leaving for Honduras on Tuesday, arriving Wednesday, and starting on Thursday. There will be plenty more to write about my experience there.