AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Natasha*

Natasha* is our ball of energy. She has a carefree spirit and is always moving. Many times we have found her high in a tree or flipping over monkey bars in her nicest dress and sandals! We love Natasha's creativity and sense of humor. She is always coming up with funny nicknames for the people in her life and she loves to make others laugh. Oh, and she gives some of the best hugs!

Read more about Natasha in her interview below:

  1. Age: 10
  2. Birthday: October 29th
  3. What is your favorite class in school? English because we do a lot of things in English, like play games or review.
  4. Who is your favorite teacher? Profe Vany (her teacher for Spanish, Social Studies, and Science) because she is fun and nice. 
  5. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? I learned how to say "What is your favorite color?" in English.
  6. What do you like to do in your free time? Play and eat.
  7. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a teacher with a university degree. I want to be a math teacher.
  8. What are you most thankful for? I am thankful because I always have food and I'm also thankful for the madrinas and padrinos, and the dogs Tenger and Bella. (Tenger is the stray dog that Natasha's dorm has "adopted" by giving it food and love when it comes around, and Bella is Amy and Wilson's (our Co-Directors) dog.)
  9. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesus? The new chapel and my siblings (Natasha lives at Amigos with her older sister and younger brother).
  10. Who is your biggest role model? The madrinas because they teach me not to say bad words.
  11. Favorite song: "Sígueme y Te Sigo" by Daddy Yankee
  12. Favorite color: Blue
  13. Favorite food: Fried chicken and french fries
  14. Favorite movie: The Krooks

*name changed to protect privacy

Natasha and her classmates

Natasha and her classmates

Natasha and friends at a park during October vacations.

Natasha and friends at a park during October vacations.

Taking a swing at the monkey bars!

Taking a swing at the monkey bars!

Natasha and Miss Rachael (2015-17 Amigos volunteer)

Natasha and Miss Rachael (2015-17 Amigos volunteer)

THOUGHTS FROM AN AMIGA ~ Laura Montes (2016-17 BECA Volunteer)

"Prefiero vivir y perder, que no haber vivido nada. //
I prefer to live and lose than never to have lived at all."

After listening to the same Spanish song on repeat all year, I was finally able to understand that line and it could not describe my year more perfectly. As I approach my final few weeks here at Amigos de Jesus, I am starting to face the reality that I will have to leave the place that has captured my heart and changed my life. I know that leaving is going to be heartbreaking, but I also feel so lucky that Amigos has truly become my home and a piece of my heart will always live here. Looking back, it is hard to pinpoint exactly when I fell in love with my life here, but little by little the challenging days became fewer and fewer and my love for this place grew greater and greater.

From the kids, to the Padrinos and Madrinas, to the Honduran teachers, to my own roommates, to Amy and Wilson, I have come to love and appreciate so many people here. Through my different relationships, I have learned so much about what it looks like to love unconditionally and I am continually blown away by the sacrifices that people make to show these kids love and give them a better life.

Beyond Amigos, there are so many other aspects of Honduras that I love and will miss. The people here are just so generous and kind, always offering to help you in any way that they can or inviting you over for dinner. I will never forget the time that I was sick and my student's family drove me to the doctor, made me soup, and made me feel so loved. In addition to being generous, the people here have a joy for life that was unfamiliar to me. From the dancing, to the language, to the food (baleadas), I love so much about the culture and zest for life here. I can only hope to bring a bit of this joy back with me as I transition home.

As of today, I have exactly three weeks left and as sad as I am beginning to feel, I also feel like my heart is exploding with happiness, knowing that I have lived to the fullest this year. I will forever be grateful for this experience and I am already counting down the days until I can return and give hugs to all of the kiddos.

~ Laura Montes, 2016-17 BECA Volunteer (1st grade teacher)

Miss Laura and her 1st grade class

Miss Laura and her 1st grade class

AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Catalina*

Catalina* is quiet and pensive, yet also has a strength about her that isn't often found in kids her age. The oldest of her three sisters, she is a natural leader and not afraid to speak her mind. She can often be found reading, coloring, or doing other quiet activities, but she also has an athletic streak and has found a love for soccer at Amigos. We can't wait to see Catalina grow!

  1. Age: 9
  2. Birthday: June 18th
  3. Grade/School: 4th grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? P.E. because it is fun.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Profe Selena (the 4th grade Spanish teacher) because she is pretty and she lets us learn about everything.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? I learned about nature in science class.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Play soccer and board games.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? A soccer player.
  9. What are you most thankful for? Education.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The soccer field because that's where I learn how to play soccer.
  11. Who is your biggest role model? The madrinas because they take care of all of us.
  12. Favorite singer/song: "Se me va la voz" by Alejandro Fernández
  13. Favorite color: Blue
  14. Favorite food: Pizza and tuna
  15. Favorite movie: Milagros del Cielo

*name changed to protect privacy

Catalina and her youngest sister

Catalina and her youngest sister

Catalina during her trip to the U.S. in September 2016.

Catalina during her trip to the U.S. in September 2016.

Catalina (front right) and Miss Audra (2015-17 volunteer)

Catalina (front right) and Miss Audra (2015-17 volunteer)

Fun with friends at the waterpark near Amigos! (Catalina is the top child)

Fun with friends at the waterpark near Amigos! (Catalina is the top child)

AMIGUITO OF THE WEEK ~ Esteban*

Esteban*, who just recently turned 12 years old, is sweet, quiet, creative, and loving. In Level 1 of EducaTodos at the Amigos School, Esteban is one of the best English speakers in the class. He has a mind for language and his imagination is always running. Esteban is also caring and soft-spoken, always ready for a hug. Recently, he has started showing an aptitude for technology. If there is a phone or iPad nearby, he is quick to navigate it and figure out how it works. In his school computer class, he is one of the best at his online typing games.

Read more about Esteban below:

  1. Age: 12
  2. Birthday: May 2nd
  3. Grade/School: Level 1 in EducaTodos at the Amigos School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Spanish, because Profe Vany is my teacher.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Profe Evelyn because she helps me a lot and is very nice. She also doesn't punish me a lot.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? Typing on the computer.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Draw and color. What do you like to draw? Thor, t-rexes, and Goku.
  8. What do you want to do when you grow up? I want to drive cars, like Chango (one of our older boys who is now 25 and works for Amigos as our driver).
  9. What are you most thankful for? My family at Amigos de Jesús, for being happy, and for my dad who visits sometimes.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The cross, because that is where Oscarito lives now and he died.
  11. Who is your biggest role model? Padrino Antonio because he doesn't punish me and he is a good person. I like to behave well with him.
  12. Favorite song: "El perdedor" by Maluma
  13. Favorite color: Blue
  14. Favorite food: Fried chicken with tajadas (fried plantains)
  15. Favorite movie: Polar Express
  16. Favorite book: Pelé - King of Soccer

*name changed to protect privacy

Esteban practicing English on the computer!

Esteban and a friend on Christmas.

Esteban and a friend on Christmas.

Esteban with volunteer Miss Ashley.

Esteban with volunteer Miss Ashley.

AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Ashley Argall (2015-17 Amigos Volunteer)

Ashley, known as "Miss Ashley" around Amigos, is in her second year of service as an Amigos de Jesús volunteer. A person of many talents, Ashley has found herself working in many jobs over the last two years, including English and religion teacher, social media coordinator, sponsor letter coordinator, and much more! Her deep understanding of the Spanish language has also made her an unofficial translator. More than anything though, it's Ashley's positive attitude and outgoing and attentive personality that make such an impact. When not tirelessly working in one of her many jobs, Ashley can be found outside talking to the children and staff, helping with homework, or listening to music with the kids. We are so thankful for all of the energy, love, commitment, and enthusiasm that Ashley has brought to our family!

Read more about Ashley in her interview below:

  1. Age: 24
  2. Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin
  3. University: Marquette University
  4. Majors/Minors: Public Relations and Spanish with a minor in Human Resources
     
  5. What have been your roles at Amigos during your time here?
    Last year, my main roles were teaching English and valores (religion) classes at the Amigos de Jesús School, as well as working on social media and communications for Amigos. This year, I am continuing to work on social media and teach one class of English, while also organizing the child sponsorship program on the Honduras side, helping our home psychologist with case management for the kids, helping lead an extracurricular choir class, and helping with after school tutoring for our older kids in middle school and high school.

    Of course, all of this comes behind the biggest role that I get to share with all of the adults at Amigos -- being part of giving and receiving love with the 120 kids and teenagers who make up the Amigos family!
     
  6. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
    I first heard about Amigos during my senior year of college from a friend who went to a service fair at Marquette. The opportunities Amigos provided to combine my Catholic faith, Spanish skills, love for children, and interest in social justice felt like a perfect fit.

    Later, I found out that another recent Marquette graduate who was a friend of a friend (Emily Pettinger, who is now the Director of Development in the U.S. office), had just finished her term of service as a long term volunteer at Amigos. She patiently answered all of my questions and convinced me to apply in the end.
     
  7. What were you doing before you came to Amigos de Jesús?
    Prior to coming to Amigos, I was finishing up my senior year of college, balancing school, friends and family, work, and extracurricular activities. I had also recently returned from studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, which is where I first began thinking about working internationally after graduation. In January of my senior year, I participated in a week-long service trip to a children's home in Haiti, where the children there led me to consider specifically working with children in a Spanish speaking country.
     
  8. What made you decide to stay a second year?
    Wow. This is a big question. It wasn't an easy decision to stay another year away from family, friends, and life at home. But Amigos is a special place. It's almost hard to sum up in words. The type of unconditional love that exists here in the midst of the hardships of the kids' pasts and the hardships of the world outside the Amigos gates is the closest thing I have ever seen to the reality that Jesus preached -- forgiving and loving not only when it is easy, but when it is the hardest thing you have ever had to do. When I see the kids learning to love and trust more everyday, growing physically healthier and stronger with the nutrition and medical care provided here, and becoming so well educated at the Amigos School, I know on a daily basis that this organization is doing very real good. How can you ever leave that??

    On a personal level, at the beginning of my volunteer term, I remember a one-year commitment seeming like a long time, but it flew by. As the end of my first year approached, I just knew that there was more learning and growing that I had left to do here, as well as more that I wanted to see the kids grow and also deepen relationships here. I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity to spend another year with these kids and as part of this family.
     
  9. What is your favorite part of your job?
    I talked a little before about Amigos fitting so many of my interests. I don't think that person was lying when they said, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." There are so many aspects about this place that I love that it's hard to narrow it down.

    That being said, probably my most favorite parts of my job happen in the classroom or in one-on-one moments with the kids. When a student has an "a-ha" moment in class after not understanding something for a long time. Or when it hits me in certain moments just how much more English my students are suddenly speaking compared to when I first arrived. Or when a child feels comfortable and safe enough to open up for help.

    Second to those moments with the kids, I also really enjoy the social media aspect of my job. After studying communications in college, it has been nice to be able to use what I learned in school during my time here.
     
  10. What is a favorite memory you have of your time at Amigos de Jesús?
    Ah! It's impossible to pick just one memory. But I guess one that I will carry with me for a long time is this....

    One of my students who I am closest with now, I struggled with for my whole first year here. He had an anger problem that was really challenging in the classroom. I soon realized in working with him that one of his trigger points for an anger outburst was when he didn't understand something. On tests and quizzes, if he didn't know an answer, I came to prepare for clenched fists or other expressions of frustration.

    Flash forward to September of this school year and the first quiz in my second year of teaching him. After passing out the papers, I held my breath for his reaction. 10 minutes passed, and nothing. This was a really good start for him. Then suddenly, this student simply put his head down on his desk. Confused, I kneeled down by him to ask what was wrong. It took him a moment to bring his head up, but when he did, tears were streaming down his cheeks. He looked down at his paper and said, "No lo entiendo." "I don't understand." And then he started sobbing -- not just a little, but deep, releasing sobbing. It had been so long that I had only seen anger from him that it took me a minute to process this new emotion. Eventually, I walked him outside, and for the first time, instead of having to send him to the office for a punishment for anger, he was able to talk to the school psychologist and work through what he was really feeling. The ending to this story sounds so cliché, but it's true: Since that moment, he hasn't had a single other anger outburst in class. He went from getting sent to the office almost every week last year to not going even once anymore this year.

    It all came full circle a few days ago when the kids were cleaning out their desks one day. Back in September, the day after the quiz event happened, I had written this student a letter encouraging him to continue to express his emotions the way he did. As he pulled everything out of his desk a few days ago, the note from September fell on the floor. He grabbed the letter off the floor and said, "Miss, look," in English with a shy smile on his face. Eight months later and he still had it -- a memory of the day he learned to express himself differently. Eight months later and his behavior has never gone back. I'm not really sure what to call the feeling I had for in that moment -- pride? love? joy? I think mostly just God.

    That moment and others like it are to me what Amigos de Jesús is -- a place of growth and healing. They are the moments that I know God is working here, and they are the moments I won't forget.
     
  11. What is a fun fact about you? I am 5'11, so it didn't take long for the kids to bless me with the nickname jirafa (giraffe) :D
     

AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Elena*

Elena* is strong, outgoing, sharp, funny, and kind. She has a personality all her own. Elena also has a sparkling laugh. No matter the situation, you can find her quick with a joke to bring a smile to those around her. Amigos de Jesús wouldn't be the same without Elena's wit and energy! 

Read more about Elena in her interview below:

  1. Age: 13
  2. Birthday: December 15th
  3. Grade/School: 5th grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? English, Spanish, and art.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Mr. Tim (2016-17 5th grade BECA teacher) and Profe Kathy (2015-17 Honduran volunteer teacher) because they are very nice and don't yell at us.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school recently? In science class, we learned about eclipses with Mr. Tim. An eclipse is when the moon covers the sun.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Sleep, put relaxing music on the stereo in our dorm, and relax on the couch. Oh, I like to sing, too.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor -- the type that takes care of babies, because I like babies. I also want to be a teacher, an English teacher.
  9. What are you most thankful for? I am thankful because I have everything I need to live, and at Amigos de Jesús I'm taken care of.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? When the madrinas let us play, and when I play with Josefina* (one of the younger girls in her dorm), because I love Josefina.
  11. Who is your biggest role model? Madrina Karen (the madrina, or Honduran caretaker, in Elena's hogar (dorm)). She always gives me good advice about boys so that they don't bother me.
  12. Favorite music: Shakira, Romeo Santos, and "Me voy" by Julieta Venegas
  13. Favorite color(s): Red, blue, black, white, light blue, and lime green
  14. Favorite food: Fried chicken with french fries, and tacos flautas
  15. Favorite book: The Magic Tree House books
  16. Favorite movie: Hansel and Gretl and Beauty and the Beast (the new one and the old one)

*name changed to protect privacy

Elena* helping make tamales on the morning of Christmas Eve - a tradition in Honduras and at Amigos.

Elena* helping make tamales on the morning of Christmas Eve - a tradition in Honduras and at Amigos.

Elena (far right) and friends on the first day of school in August 2016.

Elena (far right) and friends on the first day of school in August 2016.

REFLECTION FROM A VOLUNTEER ~ Amelia

Damian* and I work on his English together everyday. His nephew, Ignacio* (who is more like a little brother to Damian) always waits for us to be done so we can do more fun things together; like the two boys running back and forth across the yard while I time them, or making up our own make-believe town with wood blocks and dirt mounds. But today, in lieu of English lessons or play-time, we all went up with a group of kids to pray the rosary by the big cross on the hill.

Throughout the rosary, amidst all the seriousness of our prayers, Ignacio was completely unable to sit still. He ran between people praying, looking for someone to giggle with. He made motions across the way. He tried to point out grasshoppers and birds to the people trying to pray around him. He would not sit still. I did my best to ignore it, not to give his behavior any attention, but then a felt a little hand on my arm and he began whispering to me to look at the trees… Do I tell him this isn’t the time? Do I ignore him? Do I give him a stern look of disapproval? I decided to ignore him, making a mental note to have a talk with him after prayers. He tapped a little longer, then heaved a sigh of disappointment, and moved on to the next person. Before walking down, I decided to have a talk with him. I sat him on the ledge to make us eye-level and said:

“Hey buddy… we need to talk about something serious, ok?”
He nodded.
“When you pray for something, is it important?”
He nods.
“Ok, and if it is important, doesn’t that mean you want other people to think it’s important, too? And even if they don’t think it’s important, they should respect that you think it’s important, right?”
He nods.
“Ok, sweetheart, then you have to do the same for others! When other people are praying, it is coming from their heart! Their prayer is so important to them! And they’re giving you the honor of sharing what’s deep inside their heart, hoping that maybe you will pray for what they pray for, too! So it isn’t very nice or respectful to them to be talking while they pray, or giggling or playing or running around when they pray, right?”
He eyes left my gaze and he looked down…and nodded.
“There is a time to be serious, and a time to play, ok? …Now… *I tickle him* Don't be serious all the time, because hat's no fun either!"
He giggled and looked up at me as I said, “But there are times to be serious. And prayer, whether it’s you praying or someone else, is one of those times. You have to be respectful, ok?”
He nods.
“Ok. You promise we’ll work on it?”
He smiled and nodded and reached over to hug me.

I walked down the hill with the boys when I suddenly felt overwhelmed (God moment) to ask Damian if there was anything he’d like for me to pray for. After a short, but very meaningful request on his part, I asked if he would rather pray separately tonight before we each went to sleep, or if he would like to pray together. After he asked to pray together, we noticed the other boys were still near. I quietly pulled Damian to the side and asked if he would be comfortable asking his nephews to join us in prayer or if he preferred to just pray with me.

“The more help, the better!” he responded. We asked them to join us, and then we all sat down and closed our eyes in prayer. Damian prayed first- sweet prayers of a 10 year old- even remembering to pray for a friend of mine who had recently had a baby that I had briefly mentioned during our time at the cross for the rosary. Holding back tears, I prayed next. When I was done, Damian began to start the Our Father for us to all pray together in closing.

Wait! I need to pray for something! I hear.
Oh my gosh. Ignacio! I hadn’t even realized, throughout mine and Damian’s prayers, Ignacio had stayed quiet and still, head down and eyes closed, listening to our prayers. And now, here we are, a boy who an hour earlier was more concerned with grasshoppers than the prayers of others- let alone his own prayers- was upset that he had been skipped and stopped us to make sure he could pray with us. Happily stunned, I nodded to him to begin. And what followed was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. He thanked God for many things. And he prayed for many things, one of which being for Ms. Amelia, that she knows I love her and that she is safe when she goes home. and for her friend with the baby. and for her grandmother because she’s old, and for her mom and dad. and her friends.”

He finished praying, and hand in hand we all prayed one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be all together and then raced through the rain to the office porch, giggling, to go play and practice English.

Needless to say, I came back to my room and cried for a… good little while. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God.

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to know them. Thank you God for the opportunity to pray with them- to see their needs and cares and to know their hearts in that way, through you. Thank you God for their trust in me, their openness. Thank you God for helping me teach Ignacio a lesson about prayer, and thank you God for allowing me the opportunity to see the fruits of that lesson immediately. Thank you God for all that THEY teach ME; all they’ve taught me.

But mostly, God, thank you for the opportunity to love them. and thank you, THANK YOU, for the honor of being loved BY them.

You are everywhere, truly IN everything and I will carry You in this experience with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life.

 Gracias Señor.

I was recently able to go back to Amigos during Christmas break (5.5 months later). On the Christmas trip, on my very last morning there, I sat down for breakfast with these same boys (and some others) before loading up on the van to leave. They were already seated by the time I got there and had already begun eating. I sat down, closed my eyes and did the sign of the cross, when I heard a gasp. I looked up to see this:

Ignacio, realizing he forgot and now silently praying before his meal.

I’m excited to see what else we can work on together when I go back this summer. Thank you God for lessons that last.

Amelia Sierra- Summer Volunteer 2015 & 2016

AMIGO OF THE WEEK ~ Humberto

Humberto is the talented head of carpentry and maintenance at Amigos de Jesús. He has been part of the Amigos de Jesús family longer than most of our current staff in Honduras. In fact, this month, he will be celebrating his 16th anniversary with Amigos. Humberto is humble, loving, and hard-working. He plays an intrical part in keeping the Amigos grounds running properly and is a wonderful male role model for our kids.

Read below to learn more about Humberto and all he is to the Amigos family!

  1. Hometown: Azacualpa, Santa Barbara, Honduras
  2. Joined the Amigos de Jesús family in: April 2001
  3. Role at Amigos: Head of Carpentry and Maintenance
     
  4. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
    I found out about Amigos de Jesús through Padrino Ubil. He was working on constructing the building that is now the comedor (cafeteria) and he had hired me to make some wood pieces that they needed for the kitchen. So I made those pieces and I came to Amigos to install them, and that was my first time here. While I was here, they told me they were also looking for someone to install some doors and trellises in the comedor. I offered to do that job and they hired me. And that was how I began here.
     
  5. You came to Amigos in 2001, just three years after it was founded. How has Amigos changed from that time? 
    Wow. It has changed in many ways. When I first came, there were just 8 boys here [compared to the 120 boys and girls who make up our home today!]. Also, the only buildings that were here were the office building and the comedor which was in the process of being built. The school, the new dorm buildings, the volunteer house, none of that was here yet at that time.
     
  6. How has your job changed since you first came to Amigos de Jesús? 
    In 2001 when they first hired me full time after the comedor project, I actually began as a padrino. I worked in that position for 16 months. Then, I found out that they were interested in starting a wood shop at Amigos and so I offered to help with that. Or really, everyone knew that I had experience as a carpenter, so I think it had already been decided that I would help in that area. But anyway, after 16 months of working with the kids, I left my position of padrino and I moved to the wood shop.
     
  7. How did you learn carpentry?
    I first learned in 1997 when I went to a vocational school near here. After learning there, I went on to work as a carpenter and I have continued learning over time.
     
  8. What kinds of things do you make in the wood shop at Amigos?
    The things we make the most are window frames, doors, trellises, tables, and benches. And then most recently we've been working on making different things for the new chapel, which has been a big job.
     
  9. How many people work in the wood shop at Amigos with you?
    Well, before recently, it was just me, along with two of our jovenes (young men), Nane and Ariel. But now there are six of us total. Nane and Ariel, plus three other employees: Mario, Edin, and Martín.
     
  10. What is your favorite thing you have made in the wood shop at Amigos?
    One of the hardest things I've made in my time here, because I'm a carpenter not a wood carver, was making some angels that Fr. Dennis had the idea for me to elaborate. Fr. Dennis told me about the project and it caught my attention, but I wasn't sure at the time that I would be able to do it because it required detailed wood work. However, I discovered through that project that I did have the ability to do that type of work.
     
  11. What is your favorite part of your job?
    My favorite part is always working with wood, of course, but I like Amigos de Jesús because I don't only do wood work, but I am able to work in other areas, too, like maintenance, and of course always working with the kids.
     
  12. Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Amigos? 
    I don't even know which one to tell you because I have so many. I have enjoyed very much working with the jovenes who help in the wood shop. We have had a lot of special moments together.

    Also, I just thought of a memory from when I was in my first 16 months working as a padrino. I remember one day it was Sergio's turn to get his hair cut, and it was my job in those days to cut his hair. But he always would hide form me in agro (the farm area at Amigos) because he hated getting his hair cut. He said that the kids at school made fun of him when his hair was buzzed short like we did it. So that day it was his turn for me to cut his hair and I finally found him after walking through all of agro. And of course he was upset saying he didn't want his hair cut short. So I said, "Okay, let's do it like this. First you buzz my hair and then I'll buzz yours. And tomorrow I'll take you to school and we'll both go together with our hair short." And that's what we did!
     
  13. A fun fact about you is that your son attends the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School. Can you tell us a little more about how that came to be?
    Yes. I actually have two kids -- a daughter, Kenzy, and a son, Alex Daniel. Alex Daniel is in 5th grade at the Amigos School and I'm very happy to have him in school here. I know he has learned a lot. I wanted my daughter to be able to go here too, but when the BECA bilingual program began at Amigos in 2013, my daughter was already in 6th grade, and the school only went up to 2nd grade at that time. So she was too old.
    But with Alex Daniel, he was the right age for the 2nd grade class. I had heard that the BECA program was very good, so I wanted to make sure Alex was able to go there, but it was a little tough to convince Alex at that time. He was already in public school and he told me he didn't want to leave his friends. But eventually I convinced him that he would make new friends at Amigos, and of course he has. I knew that BECA provided a high quality education and that Amigos was an excellent organization, so I knew it was the best decision for him. So now we are both at Amigos every day!
Humberto walking with one of our girls and one of the jovenes from wood shop (blue shirt). 

Humberto walking with one of our girls and one of the jovenes from wood shop (blue shirt). 

Humberto (back left, green shirt) during October vacations this past year. He and his girlfriend Maritza took to his home the two jovenes who work with him in the wood shop (right side, red shirt and green shirt), as well as our youngest girl at Amigos (dress). Also pictured is Humberto's sister (pink and black shirt).

Humberto (back left, green shirt) during October vacations this past year. He and his girlfriend Maritza took to his home the two jovenes who work with him in the wood shop (right side, red shirt and green shirt), as well as our youngest girl at Amigos (dress). Also pictured is Humberto's sister (pink and black shirt).

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.