By Esther Kwarteng

As our remaining time in Camasca winds down, I have done a lot of reflecting about how I’ve spent my time here. I have done so much here that I never imagined I’d be able to do in a lifetime. Everyone has been eternally grateful for us Duke students coming to teach English to the children at the elementary school, and I am extremely grateful for those who took the time to participate in my research study.

In regard to my English classes at the elementary school, I think it has been absolutely wonderful. As previously mentioned, I teach the 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students. Prior to our first day teaching at La Urbana, the other two Duke students and I met with Laura Manship–director of Shoulder to Shoulder–for advice as well as to gauge their English levels. She blatantly told us that they did not know much but reminded us that they are young and they don’t have anyone to practice with. So, I started with the basics–the English alphabet and numbers, 1-20. On the first day, I was taken by surprise as I soon discovered that all of my students knew the material I had planned for them. As such, I improvised and taught them different greetings, colors, animals, days of the week, and months of the year.

As the weeks have progressed, I could feel my students getting more and more excited about how much English they had been learning. I often saw them after school playing in the town’s plaza, and they would try to speak English with the other Duke students and me. Of course, the more they learned, the harder the content of my classes got. In the past weeks, I taught them verbs, such as “to run,” “to walk,” “to eat,” etc. Additionally, I taught simple sentences with the verbs taught as well as the differentiation between tenses — present vs. present progressive last week.

As far as my research goes, I currently have 90 participants! I am very happy because I completely surpassed my goal. Although I have yet to analyze the data, I have noticed certain general trends as well as trends specific to the two age groups. Generally, those who live in urban areas–such as in Camasca proper–tend to be a bit more conscientious about their looks, while those who live in rural areas–such as in the surrounding villages of Camasca–are not. I can infer that this is so because of the lack of technology in the villages. Another trend I took note of was that the adolescent girls had more to say about their overall appearance than the older population of women. As I previously wrote, the culture here is very traditional. The women are conservative and reserved. As such, it is possible that they remained aligned with their culture. Another reason for this could be that I am closer in age to the younger population than the older population. With that, the adolescent girls may have felt more comfortable with me discussing topics such as body image and self-esteem because we are closer in age. The older women, on the other hand, were probably less comfortable because I am a stranger who is significantly younger than them.

Overall, spending the last summer of my undergraduate career in Camasca, Honduras has been the best decision I could have ever made. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel here to serve this community and conduct my own independent research. I am forever grateful.