BECA covers all volunteer housing, food, and training costs. Incidental expenses like high-speed internet and classroom materials are covered and assistance is provided in obtaining temporary residency status.
There is no program fee to be a yearlong volunteer teacher with BECA. Your expenses will include flights to/from San Pedro Sula, Honduras and money for personal travel and amenities. We also highly recommend that volunteer purchase their own health insurance as BECA does not provide any coverage.
While we accept volunteers of any age, the vast majority of our volunteers are between 20 – 35 years old. The average age of our volunteers is 23 or 24. On average, between 60 – 80% of our volunteers are female. This year's team brings a diverse skill set from a wide range of majors.
Diversity and inclusion are high priorities for BECA. At a time when our Central American neighbors’ safety and well-being is threatened constantly, we seek to ensure that people of color are centered as leaders and experts in every facet of BECA’s work and decision-making. The face of BECA should be the face of our students and their families – and so we are working to increase that diversity in our teaching staff, in our staffing and across our board. Teachers who share the backgrounds of their students do more than just teach their students the possibilities; they show them. In our recruitment we seek teachers with diverse backgrounds, views, and skills to serve our classrooms of students. We also seek to continue increasing the racial diversity of our teaching teams and developing new ways to support our volunteers’ learning inside and outside the classroom.
Implicit bias and multiculturalism are two very important topics we cover during the summer teacher training. These sessions are intentionally led by our Hispanic or Latino returning volunteers. We also include focus groups with students’ parents during the training. The focus groups are a chance for our volunteer teachers to ask questions regarding the education of their children. While we are on the right track, we are always looking for ways to improve. We are actively seeking external trainings and partnerships to improve upon our summer training and school-wide curricula.
The first step is understanding your loans – how many loans do you have? What kind of loans do you have – private loans or federal loans? When will you need to start repaying your loans?
Most student loans have a 6-month grace period, which means you won’t have to make payments until 6 months after you graduate. Since our volunteers work in Honduras for a full year, many of them have opted to defer their student loans. Depending on your loan type, you may opt for a deferment while you volunteer with us. For Federal student loans, you may want to apply for an Economic Hardship Deferment (for up to 3 years). Again, it is important to know the ins and outs of your student loans as some loans do not accrue interest while under deferment but others do. If it is within your financial means, it is recommended to continue making interest payments on your loans to help alleviate the burden once your deferment ends. BECA is able to provide you with a "Proof of Volunteerism" document if you opt to request a deferment. Sometimes we are also able to connect with your insurer, if needed.
If appropriate for you, consider applying for the federally funded Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program, for which BECA is an eligible employer.
Many of our past volunteers have offset their out of pocket expenses by teaching English to adults in the evenings. Not only is this a great way to earn a bit of pocket money, it's a wonderful way to interact in a meaningful way with other community members! It is up to the individual volunteer to organize adult English classes or tutoring non-BECA students outside of the regular school day, as these are supplemental to BECA’s programs.
We continue to look for other partnerships where all of our volunteers - in Cofradía and at Amigos de Jesus - can take advantage of income generating activities.
BECA accepts applications on a rolling basis, but please keep in mind that in order for a volunteer to take advantage of all the teacher training BECA has to offer, applicants must be offered a position, accept it, and arrive in Honduras by early/mid July. On average our application process can take 5 – 6 weeks to complete. The sooner you apply, the longer you will have to prepare for your year of volunteering with BECA and to fundraise to defer personal costs.
The application process starts with our online application. After the online application is submitted, you will be contacted by us to set up your first-round interview. In total there are three 60 or 90 minute interviews conducted by a mix of BECA alumni and staff. The first-round interview is focused on BECA’s mission and vision and health and safety in Honduras. After your first-round interview you will be asked to complete a Lesson Plan Assignment. The second-round interview is about teaching in a BECA school and the day-to-day life of a BECA teacher. You will walk the interviewer through your Lesson Plan, discuss your past teaching or tutoring experiences, and answer classroom situational questions. The third and final interview is to fill in any remaining information gaps and assess your overall commitment to BECA’s mission.
BECA takes our volunteers' safety very seriously and we do our best to provide sound, up-to-the-minute advice regarding issues of safety and security. We rely heavily on our local partners, families, and community members to inform our decisions regarding safety as well as other organizations who operate in Honduras.
BECA volunteers should always be aware that they are living and working as a foreigner in a developing nation that has higher rates of crime than do industrialized nations. Sadly, poverty, drugs, and gangs are major contributing factors to crime and the country’s weak rule of law and rampant corruption do not act as a strong deterrent. Therefore, we urge all of our volunteers to be conservative in their movements, thoughts, and actions and to always exercise caution and prudence in their everyday life in Honduras. Like anyone traveling to a new place, volunteers should never carry large amounts of money, nor should they flaunt valuables, dress provocatively, or wear expensive jewelry that might draw attention. Additionally, volunteers should vary their routines to ensure they are not targeted over time.
In keeping with our principle of always encouraging an abundance of caution, we do not recommend walking around the communities where we work after 8pm. If you find yourself in a situation requiring that you are out after 8pm, please ensure that you notify your housemates or the In-Country Director, are accompanied by someone else, and carry nothing of significant value (i.e. laptops, passports).
Unlike the Peace Corp., our volunteers live together in intentional community where BECA and our local partner organizations have had a presence for over 16 years. We are know in our communities and those deep relationships offer a level of protection for all of our volunteers. However, there are parts of our communities that should be avoided especially at night or if you are by yourself. Special attention will be given during the safety orientation once you arrive in country to outline what areas are considered safe or unsafe at different times of the day and night.
Unlike our communities, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa are big cities where you are much more anonymous. As is the case with any big city in the world, you should take great care when visiting neighborhoods outside of the main commercial district and avoid travel at night, especially to parts of the city with which you are not familiar. Much of the violence in Honduras is gang or drug-related and therefore should not affect you, but always be aware of your surroundings and show an abundance of caution. The most common security incident for a foreigner is robbery, and we will outline ways to minimize the risk of robbery during our safety orientation.
We strongly advise that if you must visit San Pedro Sula at night, you take a known taxi. You should not walk anywhere in San Pedro after dark, even in a big group. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you are planning a late night out, taxi is the only means of return transportation from San Pedro Sula after 9:00pm.
While living in Honduras, food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness. It's almost impossible to live a year in a tropical climate without dealing with the occasional stomach issue, but by taking care to properly wash fruit and vegetables, prepare food, and NEVER drinking tap water the frequency and severity can be reduced. Most stomach issues and diarrhea can be treated with standard medications you can bring with you or obtain from a pharmacy in Honduras. If the issue becomes more severe volunteers have access to a doctor and local pharmacy that have treated us for the past and are very accommodating to our needs. For more severe health related issues or emergencies, the hospitals in nearby San Pedro Sula are safe, clean, and equipped with modern medical equipment.
Also to be aware of while in Honduras is dengue fever, Zika, and Chikungunya. Unlike other mosquito-borne illnesses, there is no medicinal prophylactic or curative regimen for either of these three diseases. During certain times of year when dengue is prevalent, we encourage our volunteers to take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes to reduce the chances of contracting dengue.
Prior to visiting Honduras we suggest that all volunteers visit their doctor and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for detailed information and recommended vaccinations for Central America.
If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, there is no visa required. When you arrive, your passport will be stamped with a 90-day tourist visa.
*Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the day you enter Honduras.
*You should also have at least 1 blank passport page for entry and exit visas.
During your first 90 days, BECA will begin the process for you to obtain temporary residency status. If for whatever reason you are not granted temporary residency status, BECA will provide you with a stipend to go on a visa renewal trip outside of the CA-4 (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua) for 72 hours so that you can re-enter Honduras a receive another 90-day tourist visa. For the past several years we have had success getting temporary residency status for all of our volunteers.
If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, check out https://visaobtainers.com/ to verify whether you need a visa for Honduras or not.
At the bare minimum, BECA highly recommends that all volunteers have catastrophic health coverage for the duration of their stay in Honduras. Under current US healthcare law, many college graduates under the age of 26 may be eligible to remain on their parents’ healthcare plan. However, if you are seeking health insurance for your time in Honduras, it is possible to purchase coverage at relatively good rates. There are a number of groups that offer health insurance for international travelers (with limitations of one or two years). If you decide to secure health insurance through a plan online, be certain to read all of the fine print before completing your purchase and be certain that “emergency medical evacuation” is included. Many volunteers have found these plans practical for their needs:
Patriot Travel Medical Insurance https://www.imglobal.com/travel-medical-insurance/patriot-travel-medical...
TravelGuard International Travel Insurance https://www.travelguard.com/travelinsurance/international.asp
International SOS Personal Travel https://www.internationalsos.com/personal-travel
Volunteer Card (Short-term trips only) https://www.volunteercard.com/purchase/
Please conduct your own research and select a plan that meets your personal threshold of comfort. At a bare minimum, you should have a plan that provides for emergency medical evacuation (medevac) back to your home country in case the need arises. If you are planning to remain on your current health insurance coverage, contact your provider to make sure you are covered while outside of your home country. Please note that most plans that insure you while aboard operate on a reimbursement basis. Therefore you will likely be required to pay in cash or using a credit card and then submit the paperwork to your insurance company for reimbursement.
On Honduras and serving:
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
The Fish that Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen
Sin Nombre (movie)
Helping, Fixing, or Serving by Rachel Naomi Remen
Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell
Teaching as Leadership by Teach For America and Steven Farr
The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong
First Year Teacher’s Survival Guide by Julia G. Thompson
How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
How to Start on Teach First by Joe Kirby
The Art and Science of Teacher by Robert Marzano
Our volunteers at SJBS and SMBS share several homes (two people to each bedroom) close to the center of Cofradia and about a fifteen minute walk from the school. Our two houses are situated in an elevated part of Cofradia and have a picturesque view of the Merendon mountains from the airy patio areas. We also rent several apartments in one building immediately off the town's main square. Much of the time there is running water and a modern flush toilet. Occasionally there is no running water. When this happens, we use the water that is collected outside the house in a large cement trough called a pila to flush the toilet, shower, and wash dishes and clothes. Electricity is relatively reliable, but can go out without warning for several hours at a time - especially during the rainy season.
Our volunteers at Amigos de Jesus live in our BECA house, somewhat apart from the children's home and our school but on the same campus as the children’s home. The house has 4 rooms (2 people per room) and a large communal area in the middle. Right now there is also a converted shipping container/mobile home behind the house that has 2 single rooms. In 2017 ADJ will start construction on a second BECA house, which is modeled after the original house.
BECA intentionally provides very basic amenities in our living spaces as a way to live out our mission of equality - we want our BECA volunteers to live similarly as their students and families live. Every bedroom has 2 twin beds, a fan, and clothing shelves or racks. All kitchens have a gas stovetop and some kitchens have a stove-oven combo. All kitchens are equipped with a refrigerator, water dispenser, and basic cutlery and dishes. All communal areas have a couch, table, chairs, and bookshelves. Each living space has an updated emergency kit as well.
In Cofradia, each living space has a washer but they do not all have dryers so you may have to hang dry your clothing. At Amigos de Jesus, there is no washer or dryer. All of your clothing is washed by hand in the pila and hung to dry.
There is running water but no hot water. Sometimes when the water goes out you will use the water in the pila to take a “bucket shower”. (Pro tip: In the cooler months, warm up the water on the stove to take a “hot bucket shower”.)
We recognize that we provide very basic amenities and we encourage volunteers to make their living space their own. Bring pictures, maps, posters, and flags to decorate your room. If you so desire, you can make small investments in your living space by painting the walls, purchasing a new curtain or a bedside table.
Family and friends may send you packages or letters, but note that the Honduran mail system is not entirely reliable. Standard arrival time is two weeks however it can take upwards of a month or two to reach their destination. Never send valuables or cash by mail as customs officers frequently open foreign mail during inspection. FedEx and DHL operate in Honduras, and while these services are much more reliable, the price is usually prohibitively expensive. If you need something sent down urgently, feel free to contact the In-Country Director who may be able to arrange for an upcoming visitor to bring down supplies for you. In the past, parents have mailed items to visitors before they leave the States, and then they ferry down the goods. If your family or friends want to send you something in the mail use this address:
Recomendado Don Wilfredo Fajardo
Barrio El Centro
Cofradía, Cortés HONDURAS
You have two options – either purchase a cheap phone once you are in Honduras and purchase minutes (saldo) to text and talk or bring down an unlocked smartphone and purchase a Honduran SIM card once in country. A cheap phone will cost around $20 and saldo is fairly inexpensive. Most people who purchase a cheap phone for day-to-day use leave their smart phone at home as it will only work with wifi. If you choose to bring down an unlocked smartphone, we do not recommend bringing the latest model but rather an older smartphone that will not attract unnecessary attention.
Over the last few years, BECA has invested a lot of time and expertise in developing a new, custom-made curriculum for the core subjects of English Language Arts, Math, and Science. Our curricula use Honduran standards at a pace and in a way that makes sense for our students. While some of the resources and methodology is modeled off of U.S. and international standards, our curricula are designed to ensure our students success throughout their academic careers in Honduras.
Currently, we do not provide specific curricular expectations for Art, Crafts, Music, Health, Technology, or P.E. Each teacher thus has great discretion regarding how these subjects are taught, so we encourage you to take initiative and be creative.
Our 6-week Summer Institute Training is provided to all incoming teachers that will prepare them for success in the classroom. We like to say our Summer Institute is a Masters in Education squeezed into a couple weeks. The training covers topics such as Foundations in Educational Theory, Multiculturalism (i.e. focus groups with students’ parents to hear their cultural beliefs about their children and their education), Classroom Management (i.e. procedures and routines), teaching English Language Arts through the 4 Blocks (Writing, Word Work, and Guided and Independent Reading), teaching Science and Math, Scaffolding and Differentiation, how to Lesson Plan, Backward Design, and training in Reading A to Z (literacy assessment). Summer Institute is very interactive and it’s structured based on how you would teach in your own classroom. The trainers act as teachers and model the lessons for the trainees who are their students. They use “teacher talk” and give examples of classroom management techniques throughout. After two weeks of a combination of individualized mentorship, lesson planning workshops, and sessions on a variety of topics in education and bilingual education, teachers test out their knowledge in a 2-week practicum, "academy" where they teach to a group of students from one of our BECA schools. During academy teachers receive daily feedback from mentors and their peers on their teaching and lessons. Teachers "graduate" from training with daily lesson plans prepared for the first 2 weeks of class, unit plans covering the first 2 months of class, a plan to implement procedures and routines and social and emotional classroom culture building in their classroom throughout the year.