Each country has its own unique culture – the pattern of behavior and rules regarding what is and is not accepted or expected. Honduran culture is in many ways quite different from American culture. The tendency of many Americans traveling abroad is to assume that “different” means “inferior” and to criticize or ignore the host culture, while arrogantly “strutting” their own cultural bias around and offending the Nationals. This is the “Ugly American” syndrome. While in Honduras, always remember that you are a guest in their county. act with appropriate humility, respect, and sensitivity. Remember that while many Hondurans do not speak English, they might understand a fair amount. Words of criticism can hurt and offend.
Come with an open mind willing to learn about the culture of your hosts.
Since you are a guest in Honduras, it is up to you to conform as much as possible to the Honduran culture while there. North Americans tend to be “task” oriented. We want to do things faster and better. Conversely, Hondurans are “relationship” oriented with far more emphasis on people and far less on time and the task. The benefit? Your will have far more respect for and a better understanding of the value of patience. Always remember that you are an ambassador of your country.
Basic Etiquette to Follow
– Please refer to Hondurans as “Hondurans” rather than “natives”.
– Always be polite and courteous to the staff, children and in public places.
– Go out of your way to initiate greetings and shaking hands.
– Before asking anyone a question, greet them with: “Buenos días” in the morning; Buenas tardes” in the afternoon; “Buenas noches” in the evening before asking even a simple question.
– Whenever entering a room, ask permission: “con permiso?”
The Honduran people are very warm and friendly by nature. In most instances they will be very receptive and outgoing, especially if you initiate conversation. However, be careful when dealing with the opposite sex. Young Hondurans may confuse ordinary friendliness with something more. Please avoid what you might consider, “harmless flirting”.
Giving Gifts to Children or Staff
Never arbitrarily give things away to the Hondurans. We do not want them to look to service teams as the sole provider of their needs. If you brought something that can be shared with the entire group of children and staff, please consult with your trip leader. This includes candy, balloons, gum, clothing, other trinkets and something a child may ask you if he/she can have it. You are never allowed to give a child money directly. It is very important not to add to the disempowerment of the people by creating a begging mentality.
Recommended Reading List
For more about the Honduran culture and the MdL mission, we recommend the following:
“Mountain of Light, The Story of Montaña de Luz” by Fe Anam Avis
“We Are All the Same” by Jim Wooten
“Enrique’s Journey” by Sonia Nazrio
“Don’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart”, The story of Elvia Alvarado
“100 Questions and Answers About HIV & AIDS” by John E. Gallant
You can order these through our website’s link to AMAZON. Amazon contributes 4-7% of your order total back to MdL if you initiate through the link provided on our website!