Culture shock

July 29, 1991

Who: Nancy and Larry Fitton

Ages: 38 and 44 respectively

From: Long Green

Assignment: Honduras, 1976-79

Larry taught photography at Pan American Agricultural School, known as Zamorano. Nancy taught nutrition to village women, produced audio-visual materials and conducted workshops for auxiliary nurses in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Update: She earned master's in international health at Johns Hopkins and later worked for Pan American Health Organization and World Vision in Costa Rica before becoming full-time mother to their three children. He started a photography business in Costa Rica and then Baltimore.

Says Nancy: "When I got off the plane in Tegucigalpa, I thought, 'I'll never be able to stay here two years. I had never been in the midst of such poverty. But you do what you can do, and you make friends and learn the language."

" . . .One always goes into Peace Corps hoping to make a difference and help change things. Especially when you're naive and bright-eyed and see all this squalor. You think you can help.

"But the greatest change comes in oneself. It gave me a totally new world view. We're so insulated here [in the U.S]. I had traveled to Europe three times, but [Honduras] was nothing like that. We had no TV, no stereo. I took one skillet with me. You learn you can live with much less."

". . .I did come back from Honduras once to visit my in-laws. I found myself standing in a drug store in front of a deodorant display for a half-hour, trying to make a decision. It was a real culture shock. In Honduras, I was lucky if the store even had deodorant.

"When we lived in Honduras, it took us over a week to fill up a small trash can. Everything was fresh and few things came in bottles or cans. There was no packaging. There wasn't much waste. And you learn the importance of water. Today it drives me nuts when my kids leave the water running when they brush their teeth."

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