Julian Palma, second-year master's degree candidate, SAIS
"For the last two years, SAIS Corps—an organization within the Student Government Association that provides volunteer opportunities—has paired up with an international NGO called Students Helping Honduras for a weeklong service trip to the small rural village of Villa Soleada, Honduras. This year, 15 SAISers headed south over winter break to help build and finance bilingual schools and the necessary infrastructure for Villa Soleada to flourish.
"Those who speak English fluently in Honduras can earn a salary that is several times the national average, so for our team, providing primary and secondary education in English was an impactful development project.
"Seeing the school that SAIS Corps helped build a year before was a moving experience and made us feel part of a systematic and methodical trajectory. The three classrooms were in full force, hosting students from first through third grade. Our job, consequently, was to work on three more classrooms so that the children in third grade could move on to the next level.
"A promise materializing is not something communities like these are used to, and yet Students Helping Honduras has a firm commitment to build 1,000 schools throughout the country. In total, 11 have been built, an impressive record for a program that is run and financed by strong-hearted volunteers and students with a vision and a mission to change the world."