Service Learning in Choluteca, Honduras

Monica Mueller:

Study Abroad/ Service Learning:

For my STEP signature project, I participated in the annual Choluteca, Honduras Engineering Service Learning Trip.  The May semester trip required a course to be taken in the spring semester so that we could thoroughly plan our project.  During the spring semester I planned with my team members a clean water initiative to be implemented in Choluteca, Honduras.  The Clean Water Initiative Team planned to test various water sources in the surrounding villages of Choluteca and provide the public with clean water pamphlets.

The trip to Choluteca helped me gain more confidence in my Spanish language skills, not only improving my vocabulary, but also how I am able to use my vocabulary in Spanish that I already have.  This confidence will not only apply to future Spanish studies, but also in any language I study.  Being able to understand that even if you do not have a broad range of words at your disposal, you can think of creative ways to use those words and overcome that communication barrier.  I also was able to gain experience with rolling with changes, and being able to adapt our schedule. In addition to these two things I also gained a new appreciation for life.

I found it to be a lot easier to communicate in Spanish with the kids as oppose to the adults, and this could be contributed to a variety of factors.  Overall, however, over the two weeks I was able to gain experience and confidence in communicating my message with my limited vocabulary.  I also added to my Spanish vocabulary.  In the future, when learning new languages I will be able to more confidently use and build upon my vocabulary.

While in Honduras, we had to coordinate our project with the other two teams that came along with us.  Due to the amount of projects going on our schedule was subject to change, but our deadline was not.  We had to work with our allotted time while still changing our time table.  At first, our team struggled with this but we quickly learned the value of adaptability.

Traveling to Honduras was one of the first times in my life that I was able to experience a very new culture. While I found many similarities between their culture and our culture, I noticed how extremely little the people complained.  Many people I talked to enjoyed life as it was, and if they did not like something they worked to change it.  For example, my group worked with a group of health promoters from each village.  These health promoters were highly esteemed women in their villages who saw what their water was doing to the health of their community and decided that they wanted to change it.  So they worked with us in order to come up with a plan to fix the issues that may be causing unhealthy water.

Learning how to use what I have as far as a language vocabulary will be extremely helpful in future language endeavors.  Also, it will also always be useful in any project I work on to know how to roll with the punches that comes along with any attempt to accomplish something.  However, I think the most important lesson I learned was from the health promoters.  Enjoying what you have in life is an important thing to understand if you want to be happy, but equally important is knowing that you always have the power to make something better.

One thought on “Service Learning in Choluteca, Honduras

  1. Wow! How awesome to implement a clean water initiative for a community in Honduras. It sounds like this experience was certainly challenging due to cultural differences. However, you learned how to connect with people different from yourself and now have a better appreciation for adaptability. It’s great that you are committed to making the world a better place!

    – Kara Zarnoch, Program Coordinator of Academic Initiatives

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