When I first met Amer, he caught my attention for two reasons. First and foremost he came over and introduced himself and inquired as to who and how I was, and secondly he did it in English. Mind you, at the time his English wasn't perfect. He stood out, and not just for his caring nature but for his passion. Amer has probably been studying English for less time than I have been learning Spanish, something that I consider a bit of a hobby as well as a passion. However, in comparison to me Amer is an English speaking prodigy.
Many Honduran students, including various OYE scholars, study English in high school and often it is a requirement. However, very few students truly achieve a conversational level. Amer on the other hand took advantage of the added financial assistance of an OYE beca to attend, not only public high school, but also participate in private English classes.
Last year Amer's family came across health issues and hard financial times. Confronted by depleting economic resources Amer was forced to make a tough choice. After graduating high school he sought a job to support his family when his mother underwent surgery and recovery. Equipped with the experiences and training gained through OYE and his language skills, Amer found a job in the extremely tough job market of Honduras. He started his career as a clerk at a local hotel that valued him for his demonstrated responsibility and ability to speak English. Nearly a year later Amer is still a valued member of the staff at Casa Blanca Hotel in El Progreso.
I run into Amer often and enjoy catching up with him. In him I see a natural leader, a success story that is still being written. It is hard working with youth, and it is even harder working with at-risk families. We want OYE to be the perfect solution to tough socio-economic situations, but if the fix were so easy there wouldn't be a problem. Talking to Amer, someone two years ago I was sure would have continued directly on to college, is a reminder that development is not a linear process. Luckily in the case of Amer, its always a pleasant reminder.
Amer is the first to point out what OYE gave him-direction. He states that OYE has helped and continues to help him organize his life. Did Amer take a mean stroke of bad luck that prevented him from continuing his studies at the University level? Yes. Is this an ideal situation? No. But in the scheme of things Amer is a success story. After finding a job at Hotel Casa Blanca Amer didn't rest. He wasn't complacent. Amer set goals and continued working hard. He took advantage of his position to polish his language skills and today he has found employment at KM2 Solutions, an OYE supporter and bilingual contact center.
Follow the link above to view KM2's blog by Walter Molinari