AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Maria*

It's easy for us to forget that Maria* is only 12 years old. With her bright mind, gentle nature, and keen insightfulness, she is wise beyond her years. It does't help that she is also one of the tallest girls at Amigos! Maria has a fun side that makes us smile and her caring spirit makes her a great role model for the younger girls in her dorm. Maria is also athletic -- you can often find her playing soccer after dinner alongside the boys!

Read more about Maria in her interview below:

  1. Age: 12
  2. Birthday: October 27th
  3. Grade/School: 5th grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Computer class and English. I like computer class because we learn how to type and I like English because I like languages.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Profe Ingrid and Profe Kathy
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? In science, we learned about magnets and in math, we learned about addition, subtraction, and multiples.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Play soccer, sleep, talk with my friends, and dance Zumba.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? A flight attendant because I like to go on trips to many places and meet new people.
  9. What are you most thankful for? I am thankful because I have all the necessities that I need and because I am learning English and that makes me feel good.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The cross. I like to walk up and see how big it is. Also, there I can see Jesus and it reminds me of when Jesus died for us.
  11. Who is someone who is a role model for you? Fr. Dennis because I find Jesus in him and because he is very special for me. He is a fun person and I like when he smiles and tells me good advice. He has a big heart and we can count on him for anything we need.
  12. Favorite music: All songs by Dulce María
  13. Favorite color(s): Black and purple
  14. Favorite food: Catrachas and Mexican tacos
  15. Favorite movie: Me Before You
  16. Favorite book: Romeo and Juliet

*name changed to protect privacy

Maria (left) and friends hanging out at Amigos

Maria (right) and a classmate visiting the Mayan ruins on a school field trip last year.

Maria receiving presents donated by her padrinos from the U.S. on Christmas last year

AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Stephanie Fore (2015-17 BECA volunteer)

Stephanie Fore (known here at Amigos as "Miss Stephanie") is in her second year of service as a volunteer teacher though the BECA (Bilingual Education for Central America) program at the Amigos de Jesús School. Stephanie has a natural talent for teaching that shines in her 4th grade classroom of diverse personalities and learning levels. She is always thinking of new and creative ways to inspire a love of learning in her kids. Outside of classes, Stephanie takes on an active role on the home side of Amigos. She can often be found helping her students with homework or simply spending quality time with them. Miss Stephanie's deep dedication and love for our kids make her a valued part of the Amigos family!

  1. Age: 25 (but I'll be 26 this Saturday!)
  2. Hometown: Saint Paul, MN
  3. University: Knox College in Galesburg, IL
  4. Majors/Minors: Anthropology-Sociology with minors in Spanish and Social Services
     
  5. What have been your roles at Amigos during your time as a volunteer teacher? 
    Last year, I was the 4th grade teacher. I taught English, math, science, art, and computers. This year, in addition to my responsibilities as the 4th grade teacher, I'm also the Instructional Lead and a resource teacher for the BECA program at Amigos. As the Instructional Lead, I meet with the first-year BECA teachers at least once a week to talk about their goals and progress as educators and do occasional obersvations of their classes. As a resource teacher, I assist the 5th grade and Prepa (kindergarten) teachers in their classrooms a few times a week. I also teach the Honduran teachers English twice a week after school.
     
  6. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
    I applied to teach in Honduras through BECA (Bilingual Education for Central America) and was then placed at Amigos without knowing much about it. I was a little nervous to be part of such a small, rural community, but once I moved here, I couldn't believe how lucky I was. It's such a beautiful campus and I love being part of such a close-knit family.
     
  7. What were you doing before you came to Amigos? 
    Before I came to Amigos, I had graduated from Knox College and was working in the Office of Admissions there. I knew I wanted to stay in education, but I made a huge leap from university students to elementary children.
     
  8. What made you decide to stay a second year at Amigos?
    Although it took me a lot of time to commit, it was never really much of a decision. I knew a few months in that I would regret not giving myself the opportunity to improve as a teacher and form deeper relationships with the children if I left after just one year. Being here as a second-year teacher has presented its own unique challenges, but I feel so lucky to be welcomed into the Amigos family for a second time.
     
  9. What is your favorite part of your job? 
    Oh man, that's a tough one! I love (almost) everything! It's especially fun to be a part of all of the BECA classrooms this year. I love having the chance to teach my 4th graders about subjects and predicates, then help out Mister Tim as he teaches his 5th graders division with decimals, support Libian as she teaches her Prepa students to write their numbers, observe Mister Brian teach a lesson on finding the setting in a story, and then play with all of the students at recess. It's amazing to see how different each student, class, and teacher is. It's incredible how much the kids learn and grow in the matter of one school year. My other favorite part is all of the sweet artwork that I'm given by the children.
     
  10. Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Amigos de Jesús?
    Every October, all of the children from the home take trips around Honduras. This year, Miss Ashley (2015-17 Amigos volunteer) and I were lucky enough to travel with seven of the kids to their hometown of Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras). It was a little bit hectic traveling over seven hours with so many small children, but it was so great to spend some quality time with them and learn more about their lives before Amigos. Four of the boys that traveled with us have since been reunited with their families, so I'm especially glad that I was able to create that memory with them before they left.
    We also recently celebrated our 100th day of school by doing art projects, eating snacks, putting together a 100-piece puzzle, and making homemade ice cream. Only about half of the 4th graders were able to successfully make their ice cream, but it was a lot of fun making a mess!
     
  11. Fun Fact: When I was two-years-old, our family got our first cat and my mom let me name him. His name was Baby Kitty Meow Meow Fred. Another fun fact is that I once won free Buffalo Wild Wings for a year!

Miss Stephanie (far right) and Miss Ashley on their trip to Tegucigalpa with the kids in October. Here, they are also joined by one of the caretakers at their old home.

Miss Stephanie and her 4th grade class from last year.

Sponsoring Our Children ~ Ann's Story

Ann and her son, Alan. Alan was a volunteer at Amigos de Jesús from 2008-2010. He returned to the hogar in 2011 and has been living there ever since. 

Ann and her son, Alan. Alan was a volunteer at Amigos de Jesús from 2008-2010. He returned to the hogar in 2011 and has been living there ever since. 

Amigos de Jesús is a place that truly lives up to its name. We are humbled and honored that our son has chosen this place as his life’s vocation and has drawn us into this place of love and hope.  Alan joined the Amigos family as a volunteer in 2008. We have had the privilege of getting to know many of these wonderful special children (as well as the Padrinos & Madrinas, staff and the volunteers) who are a part of this amazing family. Nights end with prayer circle in which God’s presence is truly felt. From our first visit in 2008 to recently, this circle has grown by a HUGE amount— from just 50 (with volunteers) to over 150 now!

We met Juan* on our very first visit. He had arrived at Amigos a few months earlier. As a ‘newcomer’ he had no sponsors yet, so we got the honor of being his sponsor and because of our frequent visits, have had the pleasure of watching him mature into a wonderful young man.

Juan* and his younger brother.

Juan* and his younger brother.

Ann, her husband and little Juan* during one of their first trips to the hogar.

Ann, her husband and little Juan* during one of their first trips to the hogar.

He had a difficult young life— as most of the Amigos children have— and education wasn’t a real high priority for him. We encouraged him to study and work hard and always told him that if he went to high school, we would come for his graduation.  (We had this wonderful experience just a few months ago and we are so proud of what he’s done in the short time we have known him— he is college bound in another year!). The children write to their sponsors and sponsors are HIGHLY encouraged to write back.  Because of our unique connection, we’ve been able to do more than that and it is a blessing that I count among my treasures in life.

Ann, her husband and Juan* who just graudauted high school this November and is now college bound! 

Ann, her husband and Juan* who just graudauted high school this November and is now college bound! 


For more information on sponsoring a child, please visit our website.

AMIGUITO OF THE WEEK ~ Felipe*

When Felipe* first arrived to Amigos de Jesús in 2010, he was a feisty nine-year-old who had received very little prior schooling. These days, it is hard to remember the young boy who walked through our gates just six short years ago. Today, Felipe is a teenager known for his wide smile, love of jokes and pranks, and propensity for learning. He is an excellent student with a big imagination. He is constantly exploring the world around him and can often be found taking things apart to analyze how they work. This past December, Felipe graduated from 6th grade at the Amigos de Jesús School and two weeks ago, he began classes at the local public junior high. He is thriving in his new environment. We can't wait to see where his curious mind takes him!

  1. Age: 15
  2. Birthday: June 4th
  3. Grade/School: 7th grade in 'colegio' (junior high) at the local public school
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Home Ec. class. We have it for 2 hours every Monday. Right now, we are learning how to cook, and we wear aprons. This week we made fruit salad with apples, watermelon, grapes, bananas, and pineapple. We spent class cutting up the fruit and then we got to eat it in our own cups at the end. Next week, they are going to teach us how to make pizza.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? My teacher for Home Ec. who is also my science teacher.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? In Home Ec., we learned about how to properly wash ourselves before and after handling food.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Mostly talk to girls :) No, just kidding. I like to talk to my teachers, play soccer with some of my friends, walk around the Amigos property, and watch the other kids play.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? Math teacher. I will have the kids call me "Profe Mango." (Almost all of the kids at Amigos have nicknames that they use among themselves. Felipe's is "Mango" because of the size and shape of his head. We tell him his head has to be so big to hold all of the brains in it!)
  9. What are you most thankful for at Amigos de Jesús? I am thankful that I am alive and that Amigos gave me the chance to live. I am thankful for my education and for the volunteers. I am also thankful for the padrinos (Honduran caretakers) because they make sure we eat and give us good advice.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The soccer field because I like playing soccer there.
  11. What do you like to do with the volunteers and the madrinas/padrinos? With the volunteers, I like to practice Spanish and English, and I like to do my homework with them. With the madrinas and padrinos, I like to go on walks, talk with them, and have convivencias ('get-togethers' that the kids have in their dorms every so often).
  12. Who is a role model for you at Amigos? Jaime* (one of our boys with special needs) because even though he is different, he wakes up every day with a lot of energy and is always making the most out of life. Also, he knows everything that is going on and everything he is doing. He is smart.
  13. Favorite songs/singers: Michael Jackson and the song "Tu poeta" by Alex Campos
  14. Favorite color(s): Red and black
  15. Favorite food(s): Fruit cocktail, pizza, chocolate-covered banana, hot dogs
  16. Favorite movie(s): Pan's Labyrinth and The Book of Eli
  17. Favorite book: Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

*name changed to protect privacy

Felipe "blessing" Deacon Patricio, who in June will be ordained a priest for Amigos de Jesús.

Felipe and Madrina Ruth at Felipe's 6th grade graduation in December.

Felipe (third from left) and friends on their first day of 6th grade last September.

Sponsoring Our Children~ Pat's Story

Little did I know that my involvement with Amigos de Jesús would start with a promise made by my friend, Ann. While visiting Amigos de Jesús, Ann was speaking with one of the little boys who had recently arrived to the home. This little boy didn't yet have a padrino, or sponsor. She promised to help him get a padrino of his own. Upon Ann's return, she asked me if I was interested in sponsoring that little boy. As it turned out, instead of one padrino, Elmer* now has an entire group of people from my office who joined up to sponsor him! We organize fundraisers at our office to raise the money for his sponsorship and send cards to him throughout the year. I have a bulletin board with his photos and letters he sends to us displayed proudly in our office. We spread the word about the wonderful work that is being done to help the children at Amigos de Jesús.

A letter from Elmer to all of us who sponsor him. We love reading his letters to us.

A letter from Elmer to all of us who sponsor him. We love reading his letters to us.

This is a water bottle sale sign that we have in our office. We sell water to raise money for the pizza that we purchase when we arrive in Honduras. After arriving in the airport, we order hundreds of slices of pizza and bring it to the hogar on our visits! The water sales are unbelievably popular and we raised several hundred dollars over the year.

This is a water bottle sale sign that we have in our office. We sell water to raise money for the pizza that we purchase when we arrive in Honduras. After arriving in the airport, we order hundreds of slices of pizza and bring it to the hogar on our visits! The water sales are unbelievably popular and we raised several hundred dollars over the year.

During my latest visit to the hogar in December 2016, Elmer proudly showed me a stack of every card, picture and letter that we sent him over the past few years. My heart was touched that he kept the letters and that they mean so much to him. He treasures the messages of encouragement we send him. It's equally exciting for us to receive his letters and hear about the progress he is making in his classes, especially his fluency in English. 

A photo I took of Elmer holding a white box that contains all the cards he receives from his padrinos. 

A photo I took of Elmer holding a white box that contains all the cards he receives from his padrinos. 

I know that not everyone who sponsors a child will get to visit the children in person. It is a true blessing to be a sponsor and have the opportunity to be a positive influence in the life of a child! I want to give a shout out to Amy, Wilson, Alan, Suyapa, all the staff, volunteers and BECA teachers who dedicate themselves to these wonderful children. They are angels of God – doing His work on earth. 

My favorite photo is of me on my first trip to Amigos de Jesús when I got out of the van. I was greeted by Elmer*, Rocio* and Wilbur* (all children Pat sponsors). I don’t believe I was ready for the sincere, loving greetings I received from the children and staff.

My favorite photo is of me on my first trip to Amigos de Jesús when I got out of the van. I was greeted by Elmer*, Rocio* and Wilbur* (all children Pat sponsors). I don’t believe I was ready for the sincere, loving greetings I received from the children and staff.


For more information about sponsoring our children, click here

AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Profesora Viviana

In 2014, Profesora Viviana was among the first of our Honduran volunteer teachers to be hired as a permanent teacher at the Amigos de Jesús School. Today, two other volunteer teachers are now employed along with her, joining our three original paid school staff (our principal, school psychologist, and kindergarten teacher). Profesora Viviana has a special talent for working with kids. In the classroom, she skillfully masters the balance of love and firmness. She captivates her kids' attention, pushes them to be the best they can be, and makes them feel safe and accepted. We are so grateful to have her as part of our long-term team of educators at Amigos!

Read more about Profesora Viviana in her interview below:

  1. Hometown: Santa Bárbara, Honduras
     
  2. Joined the Amigos family in: January 2013
     
  3. Current position at Amigos: 1st and 2nd grade teacher in the BECA (Bilingual Education for Central America) program at the Amigos school, teaching Spanish, Social Studies, and Art.
     
  4. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús? My father was a classmate of Padrino Ubil in university, and Padrino Ubil was the one who told my dad that Amigos was creating a volunteer teaching program for Honduran teachers in 2012. My dad and I came out to Amigos one day to see what the program was about, and I began here in January 2013 as a volunteer teacher.
     
  5. How has your position changed since you first arrived? When I very first came, Amigos had not yet partnered with BECA to become a bilingual school. So I worked with a few different grades -- I was the 3rd grade teacher for awhile and I also later worked with 5th grade. Then, in September 2013, the BECA program started and I have now been teaching 1st and 2nd grade in that program for 3 years, working alongside U.S. volunteer teachers.
     
  6. How has the Amigos de Jesús School changed since you first arrived? Wow, it has changed so much. When I first came, we were a much smaller teaching team -- only 5 or 6 Honduran teachers, and the BECA bilingual program didn't exist yet. Then, when the BECA program did start, it only went up to 2nd grade. Now BECA goes up to 5th grade and we also have the EducaTodos program for our kids with specialized academic and/or behavioral needs. I've also been able to watch the kids advance through their grades and grow both academically and behaviorally over the years. It's been amazing to see my kids who were in 1st grade when I came now in 3rd and 4th grade. Overall, the school has really changed a lot, and it continues to change! It has been beautiful to be a part of it.
     
  7. What is your favorite part of your job? I think it is when I get the chance to talk to the kids and relate with them about their behaviors and struggles, not in a way that is strict or firmly a teacher-student relationship, but in a way of someone who can give them advice and really be there for them. Those moments of being able to connect with the kids are my favorites.
     
  8. Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Amigos de Jesús? Well, I've had so many students over the years, but one special group was the group that just graduated 6th grade this year and moved on to 'colegio' (junior high at the local public school). Those students were some of the first ones I taught when I first came to Amigos and despite all of their behavioral challenges, they were a special group for me. I remember when I first came and those students had the habit of yelling, saying bad words, and generally misbehaving. And then I remember the moment when I could see those students begin to change in the classroom. Seeing them graduate this year and comparing them to where they were a few years ago....it was beautiful to see.

    Another special thing that Amigos de Jesús did for me in my time here was that a couple years ago when I got married, Amigos decided to have a "Families Day" for the kids. Two couples of madrinas/padrinos (caretakers) on the home side of Amigos got married the same year I did, so Amigos held a wedding celebration for all of us as a way to show the kids a bit of an example of what marriage and family life is like, since they are growing up in more of an untraditional and group-like setting. All three of us couples wore our wedding gowns and suits, and Amigos invited both my family and my husband's family to celebrate. They had wedding cake for us and everything. It made me feel like part of the family here and it was nice to be able to share in that moment of my life with the kids.

    Apart from that celebration, many people from Amigos attended my real wedding ceremony, too -- Amy and Wilson, the Honduran teachers, and many of the U.S. volunteers at Amigos at the time. That was also a wonderful experience.

Profesora Viviana with staff and volunteers from Amigos de Jesús at her wedding in 2014.

Profesora Viviana (right) and one of her 1st grade classes.

Profesora Viviana (right) with some of her first students in 2013.

Dressing up as a superhero for Children's Day at the school.

This year, Viviana received a special surprise from her students on her birthday.

Teachers can have fun, too! (Profesora Viviana is on the left)

Accompanying our students on a field trip last year. (Profesora Viviana is in sunglasses)

AMIGUITO OF THE WEEK ~ Claudio*

Claudio* is daring, bold, witty, and oh-so-smart. He is forever catching us off-guard with his newest insights and opinions, and he is not afraid to question the world around him. Claudio is a mover and a shaker and we know that he has the potential to one day be a strong leader! Claudio currently lives at Amigos with his two older brothers and is in 3rd grade at the Amigos School. He is one of the best English speakers his age at Amigos.

Read more about Claudio in his interview below:

  1. Age: 8
  2. Birthday: November 19th
  3. Grade and school: 3rd grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Physical Education because we get to play soccer.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? I have two. Mr. Sean (2015-17 BECA volunteer and Claudio's second grade teacher) and Miss Maddie (2014-15 volunteer and Claudio's first grade teacher).
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? We learned about the Cardinal points in social studies -- north, south, east, and west.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Play soccer and play tag.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a police officer because I want to help people make sure people live.
  9. What are you most thankful for? For the Amigos family, for school, for clothes, and for food.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The farm ('agro') because there are animals there, and also the Cross because Jesus is there.
  11. Who is a role model for you at Amigos de Jesús? Madrina Berenice because she is the madrina (Honduran caretaker) in my dorm and she loves me.
  12. Favorite type of music: Temerarios
  13. Favorite color: Yellow and orange because those are the colors of tigers and lions
  14. Favorite food: Chicken with tajadas (fried plantains), fried chicken and french fries, and Mexican tacos
  15. Favorite book: Green Eggs and Ham
  16. Favorite movie: Un Gran Dinosaurio and Storks

*name changed to protect privacy

Claudio* (front right) with Mr. Sean and friends at the local parade for Honduran Independence Day.

Claudio (second from left) on Christmas with Padrino Antonio and other boys from his dorm.

AMIGO OF THE WEEK ~ Christopher

Christopher's special birthday cake that says, "Amigos de Jesús!"

Christopher's special birthday cake that says, "Amigos de Jesús!"

On their 9th birthdays, most children look forward to opening presents they wished for and celebrating a day that is all about themselves. On Christopher's 9th birthday, the day was about anything but himself. Instead of asking for birthday gifts, Christopher asked if he could sponsor a child. He told his friends he would be collecting gifts for the children of Amigos de Jesús instead of asking for gifts for himself. After word spread, Christopher's friends and family not only donated gifts to the children of Amigos de Jesús but fundraised, as well. Christopher raised over $1,400 for Amigos de Jesús and was even able to come to our office to drop off his donations! Thank you for your kind heart, Christopher!

1). How did you hear about Amigos de Jesús?
Uncle Michael and Aunt Rachael are a part of Sophie Jane Darr Foundation. Sophie Jane Darr is an organization that helps children and families, they also help Amigos de Jesús and they talk a lot about Amigos. 

After I kept hearing about Amigos de Jesús, I went to read on the website. I really liked looking on the website. I was reading about being a sponsor. I read more and clicked on all of the information to learn more and more. After I read so much, I really wanted to be a sponsor!

2). What did you do for your birthday?

My mom and I made a trifold poster to have at my birthday party about Amigos de Jesús. My mom and I drew the Amigos de Jesús symbol together. Preparing for the fundraiser was the most fun—I love arts and crafts. We wanted to have this poster so other people could learn about Amigos, too. We put pictures of the kids on it. We also made special bracelets for everyone!

3). Why did you want to fundraise for Amigos de Jesús?

I just really like helping others. God has said a lot about “help others, think about others before yourself, treat others how you want to be treated” so that was what I tried to do. 

4). How did you spread the news that you would be fundraising for Amigos de Jesús and not asking for gifts for yourself? 

It was me, my mom and my dad. My mom and dad set up a webpage so everyone could donate. Then, I wrote a Facebook post so that everyone saw. My friends were invited because they got an invitation. My friends knew I didn’t want a birthday gift but that I wanted a gift for the children of Amigos de Jesús. I wrote that on the invitation. 

5.) What was the best part about your birthday?

Well I really wanted to sponsor someone for my birthday and I was so excited to find out who I was going to sponsor! Finally on my birthday, I saw the picture of Jose!* I opened up a letter and saw the picture. The letter had all the information about Jose and I was so happy to learn about him.

My Uncle Michael showed me pictures of all the kids that came to visit in the Fall and he told me a little bit about each child— he said that even though Honduras may be poor, the children of Amigos de Jesús are rich in kindness and love, they’re very kind and happy. 

6.) Anything else you would like to say?

For Christmas, I also asked Santa Claus to get the children of Amigos de Jesús whatever they wanted.  I wanted that for them really badly. I really want to go and visit the children in Honduras soon!

AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Ariana*

Ariana* is silly, sweet, kind, and loving. She has a quiet spirit and sensitive heart, yet also a goofy side that never fails to bring a smile to the faces of those around her. Ariana is responsible and caring, and an excellent role model for the the younger girls in her dorm, as well as her biological younger brother and sister, who also live with us at Amigos. In 5th grade at the Amigos Bilingual School, Ariana is one of the best English speakers at Amigos.

Read below to learn more about Ariana:

  1. Age: 11
  2. Birthday: January 25th
  3. Grade/School: 5th grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Math because I like to do learn the multiplication tables.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Profe Yadira because she is very pretty and nice.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? We learned about factor trees in Math class.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Draw, color, and write.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a journalist or an author so that I can write and learn new things.
  9. What are you most thankful for? Friendship and peace.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The playground because I have fun there. The tire swing is my favorite part of the playground.
  11. What do you like to do with the volunteers and madrinas/padrinos? With the volunteers, I like to play, color, and practice English. With the madrinas and padrinos, I like to chat with them and learn how to behave well.
  12. Who is your biggest role model? Madrina Reina. She is very smart and nice, and she corrects us when we make mistakes. She is also pretty. I went to Madrina Reina's town during my October vacations and I also got to go to her house to celebrate her son's first birthday earlier this year. I love Madrina Reina.

*name changed to protect privacy

Ariana (center) with her younger brother and sister. In the running for the silliest sibling group at Amigos!

"I'm a cat!" Showing off her goofy side.

Ariana and Miss Keri (2015-16 volunteer)

Ariana and Miss Audra (2015-17 volunteer)

AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Rachael Salamone

Rachael Salamone is a volunteer of many talents. During her 20 months at Amigos, she has served as 'hogar' photographer; preschool, computer, health, and P.E. teacher; staff fitness instructor; After School Activities Coordinator; and most importantly, loving friend to the kids. No matter the role she is taking on, Rachael carries with her an unmatched sense of energy, dedication, and love. Rachael's most well-known position has probably been that of photographer -- almost all of the pictures you see on the Amigos Facebook page are hers! She has played an essential part in organizing the way we take, store, and share photos of life here at Amigos. We are so sad to say that in one short month, Rachael will be leaving us to return home to the U.S., but we feel blessed for the time we have shared with her here in Honduras.

Learn more about Rachael in her interview below:

  1. Age: 23
  2. Hometown: Buffalo, New York
  3. University: The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
  4. Majors: History and Media Studies
     
  5. What have been your main roles at Amigos de Jesús since you arrived in July 2015?
    Last year, I had a large role in the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School. I taught preschool, Physical Education to grades 1-4, and computers to EducaTodos levels 1-3. In addition to these responsibilities, I also was the head photographer for the 'hogar,' as well as on the social media team.
    This year, I am the head photographer and on the social media team again, as well as the 'hogar' health and fitness instructor. At the school, I am the After School Activities Coordinator, the preschool teacher, and the health teacher for grades 1-5 and all three levels of EducaTodos.
     
  6. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
    I first heard about Amigos through the Catholic Volunteer Network and a former long-term volunteer who was an alumnus of my university.
     
  7. What were you doing before you came to Amigos de Jesús?
    Before coming to Amigos, I was a college student and a soldier in the U.S. Army.
     
  8. What made you decide to stay longer as a volunteer?
    This might sound cliché, but I felt deep down inside that my time here at Amigos was not finished; August was not my time to leave. Coming to the end of my six months, I can truly see why I stayed. I have learned so much in my final six months and I have enjoyed myself more than I ever could have imagined.
     
  9. What is your favorite part of your job?
    Wow, what a hard question! I love so many things about what I do here. If I was to choose one thing, it would be that my job never really ends. Some days it is exhausting to be on and to be working 24/7, BUT the opportunity and privilege to volunteer at such an amazing organization and to be an intricate part of the kids' day-to-day lives here is a huge gift that I will forever be thankful for.
     
  10. What is a favorite memory you have of your time at Amigos?
    Some of my fondest memories have been doing Zumba with the kids. The connection and happiness music and dance can bring to a group of individuals, regardless of who you are or where you come from is one of the most beautiful things I have been able to witness. The kids here love to dance, they love music, and they love singing, so to be able to enjoy some things they really love with them has created some of my best memories as a volunteer.