Tag Archives: AFS

More hard core than the Peace Corps?

21 Sep

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”

~ Clifton Fadiman

As you may have noticed, when researching Honduras one of the ‘fun facts’ I discovered was that in January of this year the US Peace Corps pulled out all of its volunteers from Honduras due to safety and security concerns.

My main worry about this is that the withdrawal of 158 volunteers has seriously depleted the ‘potential husbands’ pool in Honduras. My grand plan of meeting and falling wildly in love with a dashing fellow volunteer may now have much lower odds!

On a more serious note, before you all start panicking, you can trust in the fact that AFS would not send me anywhere that was too dangerous. The organisation has an excellent safety and risk management system. Worry warts can read more about it here.

The Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website currently recommends that travellers exercise a high degree of caution, which is the second lowest out of four levels.

Not that I’m downplaying the risks here. Honduras can be considered a dangerous country and I will need to be extra vigilant about my personal safety while I’m over there. Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are known as the Northern Triangle, which is recognized as one of the most violent regions in the world.

Honduras is currently facing many socio-political issues such as extreme poverty, gang violence, high crime levels, the illicit drugs trade, corruption, limited health resources and high rates of disease. Just to name a few.

When reading about the Peace Corps’ decision to withdraw from Honduras I did find it a bit comforting to note that there wasn’t a particular incident that had caused the review. I did a bit more digging and read on a couple of PCV blogs that the majority of the volunteers were considered safe in their assigned locations, but it was travelling to other areas within the country that was causing the most concern.

All that being said though, I’ve decided to find and enroll in a self defence course before I leave. I’ve done one before, but I think it will be good to get a refresh before I head over there.

And speaking of refreshes, it’s probably time to update my first-aid qualifications too. Watch this space.

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Where in the world is Honduras?

15 Sep

“The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.”

~ Britney Spears

The main response I’ve been getting when telling people that I’m heading off to Honduras, is a quizzical look and the question: “remind me again exactly where that is?”

For those not in the know Honduras is in Central America. That’s the skinny connector bit between North and South America. The isthmus to be precise. Isthmus. I do like that word.

Map of Central America courtesy of worldatlas.com

As you can see on the map, Honduras shares borders with Guatelmala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. It also has coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

¿Por qué Honduras?

When submitting my application, because I’m a grand old lady of 30 years, my (Spanish-speaking) country options were limited to Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina and Mexico.

As I’ve already been to both Mexico and Argentina (albeit briefly) they moved lower down my list of preferences leaving Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras as the front-runners.

I originally nominated Ecuador as my first host country preference because I have been sponsoring a child from Ecuador (through World Vision) for the last three and a half years. I really liked the idea of travelling to Ecuador and helping out another Ecuadorian community directly.

However, I soon found out that Ecuador won’t be running the community service program next year. Jason, the AFS Sending Coordinator, had heard great things about the program in Honduras, so that’s where we submitted my application.

I was very excited to receive advice last week that I have been guaranteed a spot on the Honduras program. Look out Honduras, here I come!

Seeing the world with purpose

12 Sep

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~ Mark Twain

When I was 17, I spent a year in Brazil on an AFS high school exchange. Not only was it the trip of a lifetime (I could write a whole other blog about the amazing time I had) but it also gave me the travel bug. Big time.

In 2005, when the opportunity presented itself to do a university exchange to Mexico I grabbed it with both hands. Once again I was blessed with a fantastic trip, but that travel bug is an itchy thing, and as soon as I was back home I started looking for the next adventure.

When I first realized that AFS also ran 18+ Volunteer Abroad programs, about 5 or 6 years ago now, I immediately had my heart set on completing one some day. The idea of working on a project that would benefit the community I was living in was really exciting. I’ve done volunteer work previously, including in Brazil while on exchange, and found this to be very gratifying.

I had initially planned on completing one of the Volunteer Abroad programs in 2007 or 2008 but, as with the best laid plans of mice and men, life got in the way and the trip never eventuated.

In June this year I suddenly became single again and ‘temporarily’ relocated to my dad’s house. (Thanks dad!) With no partner, no kids, no lease, no mortgage, and all my worldly possessions neatly packed up in boxes, I realized that if I was ever going to seize the moment and do this, now was the time!

So here I am. Getting ready to set off on what will hopefully be another fantastic overseas experience. I’m thrilled that on this trip I’ll be able to combine two passions of mine: travel and volunteer work. The idea of ‘seeing the world with purpose’ is a philosophy that very much appeals to me.

I’m not 100% sure exactly what sort of project I’ll be working on, or where I’ll be living yet, but as soon as I have those details I’ll update the blog.

More info on AFS Volunteer Abroad programs can be found here.

Hello world!

12 Sep

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

~ St. Augustine

I wanted to set up this blog so my friends, family, complete strangers, and future AFS Volunteers could keep track of what I’m sure will be the adventure of a lifetime.

Assuming that wherever I end up has the internet, I hope you’ll check back often for new entries and photos, ask me questions, add comments and generally enjoy learning about my experiences in Honduras.

I’m starting things a little early though, as I don’t actually depart until February 2013. But like all things, practice makes perfect, so I figure if I start blogging about my preparations for the trip I’ll be a seasoned blogger come February.

Let the blogging begin!