FAQs about The Leadership Center
Can this small college really make a difference?
When reviewing history, one sees that most often it has been small groups of committed and thoughtful individuals who have changed the world. We believe that is true today in Honduras, and we are already seeing positive results from our graduates and current students.
Is the college co-ed?
The college was initially established as an all girl school for three primary reasons: First, we desire to provide opportunities for the most underprivileged individuals in the society’s we serve. In Honduras, young women tend to have the least opportunities. Secondly, research shows that in many cases, better results are achieved in developing countries by educating women. Lastly, as we got started only a few years ago, we wanted to keep things simple and having single gender allows us to remain more focused on achieving our mission of developing the next generation of ethical leaders.
Will the college be accredited?
Because accreditation in Honduras means much less than in the US, we have decided not to pursue accreditation at this time. Additional, the requirements for accreditation for a post high school institution require a significant investment of finances and resources, which we currently do not have at this time. However, we are currently being focused on becoming certified with the Honduran government so that our graduates will receive recognition for their efforts in obtaining new skills and knowledge.
Who is involved in this project?
The Leadership Center is a collaboration between citizens of many different countries. In all, we have had volunteers, guests, staff members, and teams from many different countries around the world. The institution is also supported by individuals, families, for-profit businesses, churches, other NGOs, the Honduran government, and other individuals around the world. Having great diversity in the supporting cast allows Leadership Mission International to more effectively achieve our mission.
What are the living conditions like on campus?
The location is remote and rustic. Dormitory rooms are small, have concrete floors, tin roofs, and single beds. Showers and toilets are clean but not always in the same building. Showers are frequently cold. Electricity is supplied by solar panels and windmill so conservation is encouraged. The food is simple but nutritious – beans, rice, soup, pasta, eggs, tortillas, seasonal fruit and vegetables, coffee, tea, purified water and beef or chicken once or twice a week.
The Teacher’s Lodge has an indoor restroom with shower and four private rooms with double beds. Couples volunteering long-term have priority preference for the Teacher’s Lodge.
FAQs about Traveling
What about airline service?
The nearest airport is in the city of Tegucigalpa. A variety of airlines service the Tegucigalpa airport. Tickets normally range between $450 and $800 with Christmas and Easter seasons being the highest priced times to fly.
What about a Visa?
American citizens entering Honduras automatically receive a visa. The length of time given on the visa depends on the purpose of the visit. For business travelers, it is 30 days. For tourists, it is 90 days. As you near the expiration of your visa, a 30-day extension is available. Once the visa expires, an individual needs to leave Honduras for 72 hours. Upon returning, you are issued a new visa.
Are rental cars available?
If you want to spend time driving around Honduras, rental cars are available at the airport. The best rates are available by making reservations online in advance. Because of the poor road conditions, an SUV or pickup truck is necessary to visit The Leadership Center.
Is public transportation available?
Honduras has an excellent bus system. Buses go to almost every location in Honduras and the rates are very low. There are two classes of bus service. One is the local yellow school bus that you will see everywhere in Honduras, often with cargo and chickens on top. The other is the executive or direct bus service. These direct buses are the quickest way to go from major town to major town. While our staff have never had security issues while traveling by bus, we encourage everyone to use common sense and be careful when using public transportation.
Is visiting Honduras dangerous?
Like most of Latin America, Honduras has abundant crime. The U.S. State Department rates Honduras as a dangerous place to visit. However because of the extreme remoteness of the campus, our area is very safe. Unlike much of Honduras, the entire region around the campus is very peaceful. The college is located within a large national forest and one of the responsibilities of the Honduran military is to guard the forest. There are only two small dirt roads leading in and out of the entire vast region. Both the military and the national police often have checkpoints on that road as well as daily patrols into the mountains to prevent illegal harvesting of the forest. The forest is one of the largest income sources to the government so they guard it carefully. With the military patrolling the area, it is not a place where criminals want to come, nor is there anything to attract criminal interests.
Do you have a newsletter?
We try to send out some news each month or two. To receive the newsletter, you can sign up on the “Newsletter” page under the “About Us” section of the website.
FAQs about Volunteering
Which season of the year are volunteers most needed?
Volunteers are needed twelve months a year. During the summers when U.S. schools are out is the time when volunteers are most plentiful, so please consider that when planning your time to volunteer. No classes are held during Christmas week or Easter week, however Christmas is the middle of coffee harvest and all extra hands are welcomed during that time.
Can I really volunteer and be useful at the college or organic farm without speaking Spanish?
Absolutely. On campus, English is the official language. If the students are to become fluent in English, they need to be immersed in English. Therefore many English-speaking volunteers are needed on campus year-round. Plus, we have many people who can translate if needed.
What will the teaching schedule be like for the long-term volunteers?
We teach classes five to six days a week. Teachers usually teach 2-3 classes (1 hour/ea) per day. Often Saturdays and Sundays are free.
What is the preferred teaching style?
Education in Honduras is normally based on rote memorization. Because of this, students are weak on analytical thinking and problem solving. To facilitate the development of those skills, tutors and discussion leaders are encouraged to use discussion as a part of their teaching. An example lesson scenario is dividing the class into two segments: roughly 30 minutes of teaching followed by facilitated small group discussions.
The goal of small groups is twofold: to promote understanding of the material presented and to analyze the ideas presented and applicability of the lesson. Regardless of the subject, each lecture should typically end by asking a question similar to “How does this lesson apply to your life?”
Volunteer teachers and tutors are encouraged to spend time mentoring students after class and to use the opportunity of informal times in the dining room, dormitory, hiking, biking and working on the farm.
What are the seasons?
The temperatures are always springtime and it is never very hot nor very cold. There is a rainy season and a dry season. Generally, the dry season runs from January through May. The rainiest months are June through October. The driest months are January, February, March and April. Unless there is a tropical storm in the Caribbean, during the rainy season, the rain is normally intermittent with sun and clouds exchanging places during the day. Seldom does it rain all day. Much of the rain is at night. The coolest months are November through January when the nights are about 50 to 55 and the days are 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Should I get shots before coming?
That is a topic to discuss with your doctor and family.
Are there many insects?
There are about the same number of mosquitoes as in most places in the States. The climate is cool enough that long sleeves and pants can be worn comfortably helping to repel the few insects.
Are there snakes?
The campus is in a remote rural area with many types of wildlife but it is rare to see a snake. Most of the locals report rarely seeing a snake even though they work outdoors every day.
How far will I be from civilization?
Tegucigalpa and Comayagua are both approximately a two-hour drive from campus. Tegucigalpa, the capitol, has the U.S. Embassy and two hospitals. Comayagua has a U.S. military base and a hospital built and sometimes staffed by U.S. volunteer medical personnel. In addition, there are many private clinics owned and operated by a Honduran doctor.
What should I bring?
We recommend you pack very lightly. One backpack is all that most volunteers bring. Long-term teachers typically arrive with a couple suitcases, as they often spend an entire year at The Leadership Center.
If you need clothing washed, there are facilities for hand washing. Wear your hiking boots on the plane because they are too bulky to pack and also bring a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of flip-flops. If you are coming during the coldest months bring a jacket, hat and warmer clothing. If you are coming during the hottest months, consider shorts and tee shirts. When you leave campus to return home, we would very much appreciate any shoes and clothing you choose to leave behind for us to give to those in need.
Because of the remote area and very limited electricity, you will not need any electric appliances — no hair dryer, or iron. Plan for an experience in simplicity. A camera is recommended.
If you want to bring insect repellant, the wipes type are easier to bring in your carry-on baggage. Additionally, it would be good to bring some gardening type of gloves. If you come during the rainy season, a light weight rain jacket or umbrellas could be useful if you plan to leave campus. Here is a more complete list of things to bring.
Are meals and housing provided for volunteers?
Yes, all volunteers will be invited to eat and sleep on campus as our guest. Once returning home, those who are able to make a financial donation to help cover those expenses are encouraged to do so.
How can I be contacted in an emergency?
Before you leave home, we will give you a phone number for your family to call in an emergency.
Are there people who should not come?
People who would be uncomfortable in a wilderness environment or those not in good health should consider an alternative way to support this mission.
Could I volunteer on the farm and not teach?
Yes! An extra pair of hands to help on the farm is always welcome.
What will I experience while being on campus?
While volunteering, you will experience life as it is lived by many Hondurans. While the campus is rustic by U.S. standards, it is somewhat luxurious by the standards of many of our students as the food and housing are better than what much of the population of Honduras have. Because the campus is very rural with no public electricity, you will experience quiet evenings away from city noise and light pollution. The nights are filled with the sounds of nature and stars are abundant.
People typically go to bed by 9:00 p.m. and get up with the sun around 5:30 a.m. Your schedule depends on what you have volunteered to do, but you will have the opportunity to do some hiking in the beautiful mountainous area. There are several beautiful mountain waterfalls near campus.
Do I need to be physically fit to visit the campus?
It is certainly helpful and recommended to be physically fit before visiting but it is not absolutely essential. In addition to volunteering at the college, if you plan on working on the organic farm or hiking in the mountains, good health and fitness would be needed.
What will be my total expenses?
There is only one major cost and that is your plane ticket which normally ranges between $450 and $800 roundtrip. You will buy that ticket as we do not make any arrangements regarding ticket purchases. We will provide your room and meals on campus but in turn we ask you to consider making a financial donation to Leadership Mission International to help offset those costs. The amount of your donation is your choice.
The expenses mentioned above only include your work at the college. It does not include any side excursions or travel you decide to do apart from your volunteering with us. If you choose to rent a car or travel by bus and visit other parts of Honduras, those expenses are entirely your responsibility.
How do I prepare for personal expenses?
If you are planning to tour Honduras with a portion of your time, you must prepare for those expenses. You will be able to use your credit card for car rental, in some gas stations in the cities, and in U.S.-owned hotels, which are only in the large cities. Everywhere else, you will need cash. We recommend bringing a credit card, a debit card for the ATM machine and some cash.
Some places will accept U.S. dollars, but not everywhere. Change will only be available in the local currency, which is the Lemperia. There are ATM machines in the airports, at some banks and tourist centers. The ATMs dispense Lemperias and normally only accept bank checking cards not credit cards.
Traveler’s checks are generally not recognized and only a few banks will exchange them for you. The application to exchange them is somewhat similar to making a mortgage application in the U.S.
Will there be any opportunity to learn Spanish?
There will much opportunity to learn Spanish as well as to practice and improve your Spanish. On campus, there will be Spanish classes so students will know their language as well as possible. Volunteers are welcome to participate in those classes. Anytime you leave campus, you will be in a Spanish-only world with abundant opportunity to learn and practice the language.
What surprises should I expect?
Schedules and the lifestyle in Honduras are quite flexible. In this culture, being on time is not critical so be prepared to “go with the flow”. In Honduras, you will be much happier if you do not expect perfection as the pace is very different than in the U.S.
Additionally, do not believe everything you are told. For Hondurans, there is a strong desire to please. Answering your question is a sign of hospitality. For Hondurans, it is far more important to answer your question than it is to provide accurate information.
You will see many armed individuals. There are many police and military checkpoints where personnel are heavily armed. In addition, you will normally see two armed guards at most gas stations and businesses as well as on delivery trucks. Banks normally have a minimum of six armed guards.
What about liability?
Leadership Mission International requires all volunteers to sign a Liability Waiver Form prior to volunteering in Honduras. Please print, sign and mail to Leadership Mission International, 5251 NW Wickiup Way, Portland, OR 97229 at least two weeks before departure to Honduras. You can also email it to ira,email@example.com.