On May 16th, we stepped off the plane in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and were hit by a wall of intense humidity. Because of the U.S. Travel Warning, we were admittedly a bit nervous about our upcoming stay in the murder capital of the world. However, we were warmly greeted by Josue and Hugo, our coordinator and translator for the week. They led us to a blue and white van, which transported us two hours along the bumpy road to what would become our home for the next week.
Between the time of the group’s formation and taking off to Honduras, we had to navigate through multiple obstacles and moments of skepticism.
We were incredibly excited to have this chance to engage in international community service. All of the hard work we put into getting to Honduras made the trip that much more rewarding. As co-presidents of Global Architecture Brigades at Penn, we spent two years tirelessly building the foundation of the club under the auspices of Professor Richard Wesley, while simultaneously fundraising for the trip. In the span of seven months prior to the trip, Global Architecture Brigades grew from two to nine members, including students majoring in architecture and a handful in other majors. It took incredible effort on the part of the team to raise enough money to send all nine of us to Honduras.
The prospect of leading a group of students into a foreign country with high crime rates was very intimidating, but we felt the need to put on brave faces for the sake of the group. The remoteness of the village to which we were traveling made obtaining the information we needed to properly prepare for the trip more difficult than we had ever imagined. All we knew was that we would be spending our time in a town called El Tomatín (fondly known to us as “The Little Tomato”), where we would help lay the floors of their community bank.