The National Agriculture University in Honduras was easily one of my favorite places that we visited. I loved the people, the agriculture, the campus, everything! As an Agriculture major, I am always excited to see different ways of growing things or raising animals and we got to do just that.
Catacamas is a lovely, tropical region with towering mountains that stand above groves of banana trees and pastures of cattle. It is humid and sticky and humming with noise from frogs and bugs in the trees. The University is huge! The campus has buildings all built in the shape of an "H" for Honduras and the grounds are well kept.
We were able to tour the campus and the surrounding campus farms and I was amazed at the sheer volume of projects that are going on. The vegetable and fruit production farms are efficient and neat. Everything is grown sustainably and recycling is a main focus. The leftover vegetables and fruits are fed to the animals that are being raised on the farms.
The students at the University were eager to learn and all happy to be there. Some students that we talked to have to travel up to 2 days on the bus to get home to their families. Most of them speak some English and many are nearly fluent. They were excited to have us there and everyone went out of their way to show us around.
My favorite part of our entire trip was the horseback riding at one of the University's small farms. I love horses and it's my goal, wherever I am, to find one to at least take a picture with. I was elated that I not only got to pose with horses, but I got to ride!
When it was finally time to go, I was sad. I wanted to see more and do more around the University and region. If I get the chance to go back to see my new friends, I most certainly will!
The university is primarily focused on agriculture and serves many students from poor backgrounds. Here they learn about sustainable agriculture, ecology, and alternative sources of energy. Many of the students are on full scholarships, which cover not only their tuition and materials, but also housing, clothes, food, and everything else they might need. The students take classes and work in different areas, and all the food the students eat is grown on the campus. Field work is part of the curriculum, and their motto is "Learn While Doing." Seniors do theses based on field research, and many of them study abroad in order to do that research.
Our stay in Catacamas was punctuated by events organized by the university just for us. There were tours of the campus, cultural activities, presentations by students, and many opportunities for cultural and personal exchanges between their students and the Ferrum visitors. We were treated with wonderful hospitality and thoughtfulness, and we all enjoyed it tremendously.
The students and faculty who traveled together to Honduras for a service-learning course wrote about our adventures on this blog, both during and after our travels.