It was an amazing and thought-provoking ten weeks for me interning with Unión MicroFinanza in La Unión, Honduras. As I was preparing to head back to the States, I considered the many things I learned during my time in La Unión.
- Aid is a complex and delicate process. Dumping aid upon a community can be worse than providing no aid at all.
- Innovation, imagination, and entrepreneurial skill are everywhere. A college education is certainly not required.
- I live an incredibly fortunate life and have many reasons to be thankful.
- I can’t always have Jif peanut butter. Sometimes the off-brand will have to suffice, and sometimes there’s no peanut butter at all.
- One can get by, though certainly not eloquently, with a Spanish repertoire of present tense verbs, some nouns, and a lot of smiles.
- Running water and electricity are luxuries, not basics, for much of the world.
- Fair trade is not always fair. There is nothing like meeting a farmer and going to the source of a product to really know what you are buying.
- Microfinance, like any development tool, has its challenges, but it is an exciting strategy that provides clients with the means to help themselves.
- There are some serious coffee geeks out there. Coffee flavors can be described with words such as “roasted marshmallow,” “honey/citrus,” and “pumpkin pie.”
- Climate change is a very serious threat to the farming community of La Unión, and globally. When one’s personal harvest accounts for both food for the family and yearly income, a consistent climate is critical.
- Riding in the back of a pickup truck is great fun.
- The word “gringa” refers both to a white woman, and to an incredibly tasty meal of a flour tortilla filled with chicken, a creamy white sauce with jalapeños, and chimol (a salsa).
- Coffee processing is energy-intensive, but, with creative thinking and new techniques, can be sustainable and environmentally-sound.
- The drive to learn is precious, and education is an incredibly powerful means to open doors for a child who otherwise would not have had options.
- I can now drink coffee black, no sugar, no cream. Coffee from La Unión, that is.
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