Honduras — Misconceptions About So-called “Third World” Countries — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Sofia Pineda
When people think about Third World countries, all they can imagine is poverty, violence, and any negative connotation you can associate with a location. But who can blame them? It seems as if Third World countries do not interest the rest of the world unless there are revolts or violent activities going on. Mass media will let the world know all about how dangerous these countries are, but fails to tell how beautiful and full of potential they are. Growing up in Honduras, I have experienced this phenomenon all my life.
Studying abroad last year reinforced this thought. I left home to live the “American dream.” Education is not a good as it should be in Honduras, so my parents and I decided it was best for me to study in the United States. Because English is my second language I have an accent when I speak, allowing people to know I am a foreigner. People here were surprised by “how good I speak English.” But they were even more surprised when I told them where I was from. It seemed as if all they knew about Honduras was the revolt we had in 2009 or the poverty and crime that exists. Many didn’t even know where Honduras is located and I got asked several times not only if I lived in Mexico, but even worse, if I spoke Mexican. I am completely honest when I tell you that I have been asked if I live in trees.
What a dream to live, right? To live thousands of miles away from home and have people make assumptions of who you are and about your culture just because you come from a certain country. Truth be told, this saddens me. There is more than meets the eye. Just because we come from a country that is not as developed as others, it does not mean we are “uncivilized” individuals living in forests and are unable to speak another language besides our mother tongue. I will not lie and say that my country has no poverty or crime. But let’s be honest, what country has no people who are homeless or who suffer from poverty? What country has people that never commit crimes? What country has a perfect government loved by all its citizens? Last time I checked, there was no such country.
There are so many misconceptions about Third World countries; we are continuously diminished because we have been labeled in a box. Third World countries do not want others’ charity— this is one of the biggest misconceptions that exists. Third World countries want to be seen as equal, because that is what we are if we are given the opportunity. Believe it or not, we, just like all First and Second World countries, have our fortes. While some countries may excel in education, others excel in crop growth or fertile land. Every country has its weaknesses and its strengths.
Third World countries are more than poverty and violence and charity works. Third World countries are beautiful. Honduras, for example, has the second largest coral reef in the world— a fact that is overlooked or ignored due to the negative news that are shared with the world. Not only do we have beautiful nature but most importantly, we have beautiful people. When I say beautiful people I mean both from the inside and outside. We are honest people fighting to live that “dream.” Only as you grow older do you understand that your dream can be achieved anywhere. You don’t need to study abroad or work for a foreign company or live somewhere else because, at the end of the day, you may belong to a Third World country but no one is superior or inferior to you. Misconceptions will always exist and it is your duty to inform others how beautiful and full of potential your country truly is.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU
For all of the North Star Reports, see http://NorthStarReports.org
The North Star Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Reports. The North Star Reportshas flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Reports student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
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