Lara: Please describe what your community service project entailed.
Alexa: The community service project involved a small group of students traveling to Siguatepeque, Honduras. We worked with Habitat for Humanity to help build a house for a family. We worked alongside the patriarch of the family, Don Amado, and two men working for Habitat who were natives of Honduras. Our jobs included moving dirt, twisting steel into shapes to place inside concrete, digging trenches for the foundation, finishing the foundation, and building the walls of the house.
Lara: What was most rewarding for you?
Alexa: The most rewarding experience for me was the children. Every day on their way to and from school, hundreds of children would pass the sight we were working on. Many would stop, but none spoke English. They were very intrigued with our project, but also very shy. But sometimes members of our group were able to connect with the local children (through sign language, Spanish), and that was very satisfying.
Lara: What was the most challenging aspect of your community service?
Alexa: A challenging aspect of the trip was the physical labor involved. We were required to move many large rocks and cinderblocks, and we also mixed our own cement. It was very hot and we worked eight hours a day, but being able to see the house grow in front of us each day made the labor worthwhile. Another challenging aspect was the language barrier.
Alexa Cerf (far right) in Honduras with fellow Sidwell Friends Student, Anna Perina
Lara: What lessons did you learn as a result of your community service?
Alexa: Before traveling to Honduras, I was under the impression that English was the universal language of the world and that most people in most countries tried to learn English. In Siguatepeque, English did not exist for the most part. I had traveled to tourist sites in other Hispanic countries, where signs would be in English and Spanish. Siguatepeque is hardly a tourist destination, and the high schoolers that we met did not know any English. I was surprised, but learned that, for the people in Siguatepeque, English is not a priority, because the culture that they are growing up in does not require any of the English language.
Lara: Would you recommend it to others? If so, why? If not, why not?
Alexa: I would definitely recommend the Sidwell Honduras trip to others because it is the perfect mix of community service and fun. Although we spent the entire day working, the nights were always relaxing, enriching. We went to a Spanish movie, danced with some native high-schoolers, played soccer with local students, and had a barbecue where we cooked ourselves Honduran food. After finishing our week of work, we traveled to Copán, a city next to Mayan ruins. Copán is beautifully maintained and the city we spent the night in was small but very friendly.