Alumni Spotlight: Allie McCormack


Allie McCormack is from Ipswich, Massachusetts, is 19 years old, and took a year off after high school before going to Tulane University to volunteer in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. At Tulane she will be studying Public Health and International development. She loves traveling, running, going to the beach, and learning as much about people from other cultures as possible.

Morning: On a typical morning, I would wake up at about 6:30, eat breakfast, and then either take the bus to work or get a ride with my host sisters. I worked every day from 8:30 to 1:00. I worked at Programa de Rehabilitacion para Paralisis Cerebral (PREPACE). PREPACE is a center for about 100 children in Tegucigalpa who have cerebral paralysis, down syndrome, and other learning disabilities. Every morning I helped the children off the bus and then fed those who needed help. We typically spent the day doing music therapy, some physical therapy, and just lots of personal interactions with the kids. I usually stayed in one classroom, working with kids between the ages of 4 and 6.

Afternoon: Since I stopped work at 1, I had lots of free time. My host sisters went the La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, so I usually went there to spend time with my sisters and their friends. I made a lot of friends in this way, with whom I am still in contact. This was also a huge help with my Spanish - since I was talking every day with people my age, conversation because pretty easy for me. Sometimes we would go to the center of the city or towns a short bus ride away from the city to get coffee or go to museums or just walk around.

Evening: A typical evening was usually just coming home and having dinner with my family. After, we would always hang out and talk or watch TV. I was really close with my host sister who was my age, so it was like living with a really good friend. On the weekends we usually went out either to our favorite bars in the city or to friends' houses. A few of the other volunteers lived in Tegucigalpa or towns that were fairly close, so weekends were always a perfect chance for us to catch up and share our experiences, and since they became friends with many of my friends in the city, we always had a great group.

Highlights: The highlight of my volunteer experience was the last day at my project, because I really saw how much of an impact I had made. Every day I just did little, everyday things with the kids - I guess there weren't really any huge, standout things that I did there. But I became so close with them, and with the teachers throughout the whole experience, that leaving really opened my eyes to how important I had been. Part of my organization's philosophy is that as a volunteer who is only going to work for 6 months or a year, we need to be helpful and important, but not necessary. I felt so helpful and important, but I know that my project will continue to do amazing things without me, as they did before I arrived.

The highlight of my entire experience was all of the friends that I made. By the time I left I had so many connections that it was nearly impossible to leave. I was one of 13 ICYE volunteers (United Planet is the name of ICYE US/Canada). The others were from England, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Denmark. 6 arrived in August and stayed for a year, and I was one of the 7 who arrived in January and stayed 6 months. We lived all over the country, but we all visited each other all the time, and we had an automatic group to do weekend or weeklong trips to all of the amazing places in Honduras. I also took a weeklong vacation in Nicaragua, for Easter week.

I became so close with all of them, and made friendships that I know will last a lifetime. These friends became friends with my amazing Honduran friends, and all of them together are the main reason that my trip was so incredible. My friends in Honduras improved my Spanish while I improved their English. Every day I could talk in a different language about anything, to the most incredible people. They showed me the city, and the country, and taught me so much. I have friends all over the world who I can visit and talk to and maybe even travel with in the future, and I am so grateful to have had the enormous good fortune to meet all of them.