Name: Liz McDermott
Age: 23 years old
Hometown: Sudbury, MA
Fun fact: I love chocolate and stay caffeinated throughout the day by drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Why did you want to be a Amigos long-term volunteer? In a lot of ways, my connection with Amigos is the most rewarding thing that was happened to me by chance. When I applied for BECA (a non-profit that partners with bilingual schools to help provide affordable, quality, bilingual education), I mentioned that I was interested in working at Amigos de Jesus- I really liked the idea of living in a rural area surrounded by nature and working at a children’s home where I would have opportunities to spend time with my students outside of school. Even though I expressed interest in coming to Amigos, I did not know that I would be placed at Amigos until about a month before I moved to Honduras in 2014. When I arrived and began working at Amigos- I confirmed that Amigos has all that I had hoped it to and more. I fell in love with the kids, with the community at the school, and the community at the children’s home. I also find it to be such a peaceful place to live in- the campus is surrounded by gorgeous mountain vistas and beautiful green spaces to explore.
What is your role at Amigos? I am the BECA administrator at Amigos de Jesus Bilingual School. I serve as the BECA liason here. My job involves teacher support, communication between BECA and Amigos de Jesus Directors (Amy and Wilson) and the school director (Prof. Osman) and general volunteer support for the BECA/Amigos volunteers.
What is one of your favorite memories? It is really difficult to think of one great memory since I have had so many. One great moment that I experienced recently that I am thinking of as I write this involves one of the prepa (kindergarten) students who is also one of the newest children at the hogar. He recently came to Amigos to Jesus with his four siblings and has a tendency to not use people’s names and call them meco (a variation of the term “mico”which means kid). When he wants to be, he is very affectionate but often alternates his hugs with hitting and running away giggling. The other day, while I was playing soccer with the teachers after school, I heard a little voice from the sideline calling “Miss Liz.” I looked over and saw this child holding a water bottle. He continued to call my name and told me that he had brought the water to share with me (I am sure that he could tell that I was in dire need of water from running in the hot sun). That was the first time I heard him use my name and the first time he offered to share something with me- this really stuck out to me as a precious moment!
Who inspires you the most at Amigos? This is a REALLY difficult question. One of the best things about working at Amigos is that I do not have to look very far for inspiration. Everyone who works at Amigos wants to make a positive impact and provide the children here with the love, comfort, security, guidance and kindness they deserve. I get to work with incredible, passionate adults that work very long hours but still do their work with so much love and care AND I get to work with curious, kind and intelligent kids that despite hardships they have endured, are simply kids that get excited about reading books, being in the classroom with their classmates, and sharing things they have learned with the people they love.
As your time comes to an end, what wisdom would you like to pass on to the future volunteers of Amigos de Jesus? My biggest piece of advice would be cherish your time and enjoy the moments you have with the kids and the adults that you meet and become friends with: write down the things that happen throughout the day, be intentional about trying new things and talking to new people. This sounds simple and obvious but during those difficult days where despite your greatest efforts your class still did not finish their math lesson, or you tried your hardest to communicate in Spanish and you still could not get your point across, or it is the hottest day in your life and you are sweating through your jeans, this simple piece of advice is hard to remember.