Making a difference through agricultural education was the main goal of a group of pre-service teachers when they studied abroad in Honduras. In May of 2017, a group of pre-service agricultural educators from The Ohio State University traveled to Choluteca, Honduras to learn and engage themselves in the culture. The study abroad is led by Dr. Jamie Cano, Associate Professor of Agricultural Education, and Mr. W.T. Agner, a PhD student at Ohio State.
As a future agricultural educator, I had the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and skills as I pursue a future career in agricultural education by studying abroad in Honduras. Most importantly, I developed an awareness of, respect for, and appreciation for the Honduran culture. I developed a deep understanding of the culture when I had the opportunity to cook a meal in the backyard of a traditional home. With this being my second study abroad, I was to developed a better understanding of cultures around the world. I realize that many cultures are similar in the way of life. As I continued to dive into the experience, I was to put my thoughts into words – “By engaging in the culture, I could share my love and care with others in order to help continue to bring people together to transform the world. I have enhanced my understanding that listening and communicating with one another and letting the wisdom guide us, we improve the quality of life for those in need.”
Much of the time was spent on service learning and community outreach projects. One of the projects gave the pre-service teachers had the opportunity to serve the Choluteca Vocational School by pouring a new sidewalk, paint a pavilion and benches, and run electricity to one of the classrooms. This vocational school had a welding, automotive mechanics, sewing, and baking programs. The students in the automotive mechanics program were learning the same concepts, such as the small engine components, as agricultural education students in the United States. The Ohio and Utah students also experience the Honduran lifestyle when they cooked and served lunch for elementary students in the backyard of a traditional Honduran household.
Learning about the diversity in agriculture was another aspect of the experience that the pre-service teachers fully engage themselves in. They had the opportunity to visit a melon farm and processing plant and sugarcane farm. Not only did they visit the sugarcane farm, but they had the opportunity to plant a row of sugarcane by covering up the stalks using a garden hoe. I was able to interact with local farmers and learn about their farming practices and way of life. The farmers still use many traditional practices that have successful outcomes. They are a society that takes pride in their crop each year and are excited to go to work everyday to feed their families. Many of them has inspiring stories that gave me a better understanding of global society.
At the end of the education abroad, I had the opportunity to reflect on my experience through a photo voice project:
“We, as human beings, are creatures of building and connecting relationships with those in our environment. We have ears to hear what others are saying, eyes for seeing what others are doing, and mouths for communicating our thoughts, our ideas, and goals. Even though every human being is their own unique person, we all are gifted with power to interact and develop relationships with people around the world. The creation of these relationships allows us to build bridges that connect our culture with another culture such as the Honduran culture. There is great knowledge and values that lay deep within this culture. By taking the time to listen to other people’s stories, we learn the similarities that help us connect the two different cultures. These connecting bridges provide us with the opportunity to engage ourselves into a new Honduran lifestyle. As we continue to explore the culture, we receive the opportunity to grow our perspectives and understandings of the world. Because life is a team sport, we can build these bridges together. By being part of a specific team in Honduras, I have had the opportunity to integrate my special talents and strengths with others. Sharing my love and care has helped me continue to bring people together to transform the world. I have enhanced my understanding that listening and communicating with one another and letting the wisdom guide us, we improve the quality of life for those in need. These bridges are the key to leaving a legacy.”