Internships, hikes and island life

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During J-term 2019, 367 students and 32 program leaders will participate in one of Luther's 18 courses around the globe.Each course is a different journey and has a different blogger (or several). Below you'll find a blog post from the International Studies 239: Honduras course, "Roatan: Ethical Engagement in a Changing World." Check out the January Term 2019 Course Blogs page for more on each of the courses! Although it's impossible to keep up with everyone, these blogs are designed to provide glimpses into our students' adventures.

These past few days have been exhausting, but absolutely amazing! We officially began our respective internships on the 8th, and with a little adjustment over the week, we have hopefully solidified our placements. My own experience with my internship was much different that those of my classmates, but from what I hear, they have all been very eventful, educational and interesting.

After the bumpy ride to my site, my classmates and I arrived at the community center that houses BICA and SOL. Some deliberations were made and a friend and I were placed in the lab where we changed alcohol in fish samples for conservation purposes. It wasn't exactly related to my major, but I still enjoyed spending time in the lab at BICA and getting to know the employees there. The other workers at BICA were Nikita and Egla, I learned that they both craved to see the snow in the United States and loved the state, Colorado. Because they were both local to the island, they had never experienced the cold even though they were much more seasoned travelers than I. It was a great experience talking with them and practicing my Spanish skills while they practiced their English.

The journey home, however, was by far the most eventful thing that happened that day. We rode the bus home and it was quite literally falling apart. After I got into the vehicle, I had to hold the door shut so it wouldn't fly open mid-ride! Many of the people that were riding in the colectivo were locals that only spoke Spanish, which was quite different from other cabs that I had ridden in. It dawned on me that these people rode or walked the treacherous highway to school or work, and I was joining them for just a short while and saw a glimpse into their everyday life. It was definitely one of my more memorable commutes home so far!

On the 9th, after the morning of working at internships, most of the group went for a hike in a neighborhood called "La Colonia." This neighborhood is mainly composed of squatters that have migrated from the mainland (Honduras) and have come to the island for better economic prospects. I personally was unable to perform the hike, but from what I hear it was a great experience. Despite the steep hill they had to trek up, my classmates and professors described the location as a tight knit but also poverty stricken community that housed a large amount of Roatan's population. It was a crowded and hilly place full of stray dogs and small children without supervision, and a totally new sight for many of the Luther students to see.

Today we had our internships again in the morning and I was able to meet some more of the locals through my new internship placement at Roatan Marine Park. It was a great opportunity to see more of what life was life on the island and the children that I met were incredibly friendly, despite our difficulty in communication (because none of them spoke a word of English). I was also able to see what the public school system is like in Roatan which is extremely different than my education growing up. For example, their school year calendar runs from February to November, they have far less funding than my school did and from the sounds of it-they are very understaffed at each of the schools.

In addition to our internships, some of us had the opportunity to visit a museum about the origins and development of Roatan. It was great to have the hundreds of years of history in one place to digest rather than a patchwork of knowledge we were learning from locals, however their input is also very important to us as well.

Unfortunately, it was rather rainy and the ocean was not very calm, so we didn't get to go to the beach this afternoon, but we look forward to doing that as much as we can in the coming weeks!

¡Hasta Luego!

The view from a local school in Roatan

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