Home in Honduras: One Year Later

Four alumni, four distinct stories. Read on to learn more about how these Global UGRADs from the 2014-2015 Honduran cohort have spent their first year post-program!

                                                                              Silvia Alejandra Núñez Rodriguez, Chatham University

It’s been almost 10 months since I returned from Pittsburgh. A lot has happened. Coming back was a big adventure full of challenges and new experiences. When I returned in May of 2015, I was not able to go back to school because the university’s system opens classes annually and unfortunately my classes were not available. This created an opportunity for me to get my first job experience. I was able to work in a coffee cooperative on a mountain called Capucas. I was really excited to find this opportunity related to my major and my experience with sustainability at Chatham University. Capucas is a community that is following the ideas of sustainability. The coffee farm has grown and diversified its production. It has created job opportunities for people in a rural community in areas like agriculture and tourism. I was able to work in the Cooperative’s hotel, which is composed of cabins in the mountains where people get to learn about coffee and agriculture. I worked as the general manager’s assistant and translator. After this I was also able to work with a construction company as a translator for a prequalification for the US Army Corps of Engineers. While I was in the sustainability program in Chatham I wrote a few papers on my interest in ecotourism as a means for sustainability in developing countries, and took several classes (including my internship) on green and sustainable design. I would have never imagined that I would get job experience in my country in both areas. My experience with Global UGRAD has been an opportunity that has opened many doors in my own country. I just started classes again in my university with hopes to graduate next year.


Annie Espinal Jones, Montclair State University

It’s been one year, one month and 11 days since I ended my UGRAD scholarship and it honestly feels like only yesterday that I was boarding the plane on my way back home. Although it feels like no time has passed, so many things has happened in my life. First, I completed a full year of my teaching practicum in a small public school in the capital of Honduras; I learned so much, not only from the teachers but also from the students who gave me as much love as grief throughout that year. I’ve officially graduated and received my degree in Foreign Languages with Orientation in Teaching English; and I graduated with my best friends and my family cheering me on. I’ve moved from the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, where I’ve spent six stress-filled and wonderful years, back home to the small and beautiful island of Roatan when my mom asked for at least a year back with her. The pastor of my church offered my sister and me a job in our local bilingual school and we started on Monday, January 25th. We were so blessed to have a job offer five months before receiving our degrees! With my student life over for the moment I look forward for beginning my life as a working adult, even though at 25 I feel nowhere near ready to be an adult! But it’s something I’m looking forward to and I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

Emilia Espinal Jones, St. Cloud State University

It’s been a little over a year since I’ve been back home, but not a single day goes by that I do not think about my time studying abroad and all the amazing friends I met along the way. Last year I completed my practicum in a small public school in Tegucigalpa, teaching the kids how to speak English. It was an awesome and sometimes terrifying experience. Following that, I graduated with honors from the National University with a title in Foreign Language with Orientation in Teaching English. Since November I have been enjoying some vacation time, visiting different places in Honduras and generally mentally preparing myself to start my adult life. I have since moved back home to the island of Roatan, and accepted a job from the pastor of my church to teach in other local Adventist Bilingual school. As anyone can probably tell you, coming home isn’t the easiest thing, but so far I have enjoyed being back with my family and reconnecting with old friends. I don’t know what the coming year will bring for me, but I welcome it with an open heart and mind.

                                                                              Abby Rico Ruiz, Augustana University

Hello to all my UGRAD fellows! I cannot believe that it has been over a year since my exchange program. Time really does go by fast, right? Last year was sort of hectic. I moved to a new city and work as a teacher for half of year, but due to family issues I had to move back home. That did not bring me down, however, as I continued with my education. Truly, 2015 was a year of changes and adventures. One of the biggest surprises of last year was when my boyfriend proposed to me! Keep in mind, I met him at Augustana when I was studying there in the fall of 2015, so I think this is just another example of how UGRAD is life changing! No wedding day has been decided, but whenever that happens you will all surely be the first ones to know. Now, this new year makes me feel excited because I have in mind a few projects, which I hope that with the help of God I will be able to make them happen. The Global UGRAD Program inspired me in so many ways, and now I like to inspire others and let them know they are capable of everything. Blessings and hugs to all of you!

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