The Honduras Project in the USF College of Education was a multi-million, multi-year contract funded by the U. S. AID of the U. S. Department of State to upgrade the secondary schools in the Central American nation of Honduras. Dr. Christian Anderson, a professor in the Social Foundations of Education Program of the College of Education, served as the director of the project.
Dr. Edgar Nesman, an assistant professor in the USF Department of Sociology, had lived in Costa Rica and had conducted research on Central America. He joined the USF faculty in 1968. He learned that faculty members within the College of Education were discussing a contract with U. S. AID to help the government of Honduras improve secondary education throughout their country. Dr. Nesman was asked to be placed under consideration as a potential professor for the project. When the contract was awarded to USF, 25 of the top teachers and directors of secondary schools in Honduras came to the USF College of Education to study for a year. Dr. Nesman taught a basic sociology course in Spanish during the first semester and allowed other Spanish-speaking students on campus to enroll. The second semester he taught a graduate course in sociology and the Honduran students were invited to social and cultural events in the community.
During the time that the Honduran students were at USF, there was a considerable amount of civil unrest in their home country. The year before, a military conflict between Honduras and neighboring El Salvador erupted, which was ignited by a “bad call” during a soccer match between the two countries and was later named the “Football War,” and was caused by underlying tensions based on the heavy migrations of Salvadorans into Honduras, boarder disputes, and serious economic instability. Most of the group of 25 students remained in Tampa for the year. A few students were selected for further graduate study and stayed a year longer.
A second group of 25 students came to USF in 1971, and the same program was repeated. USF faculty took part in a conference that year in Honduras that was devoted to the revision of the secondary school curriculum. Dr. Nesman taught a USF course in Honduras so that students could complete their degrees. The program came to an end in 1971 with the election of a new government which eliminated the US AID educational reform program. However, the friendships that were developed between the USF faculty and the Honduran teachers remained strong over the years with visits between the two groups. In addition, some of the Honduran students continued for a time to be mentored by the USF faculty members. As of 2007, Dr. Nesman continues to communicate with Honduran teachers and administrators as well.
Gerry Marins served as the project coordinator for the Honduras Project, and Dr. Don Peterson was the project evaluator. Other USF faculty involved in the project included Dr. Tom Frejo, of the Educational Measurement program, Dan Coker, from the Criminology Program, and Ray Hirschorn from the Dean’s Office. They all spoke Spanish and played a major role in the project. The project produced three major research publications by Dr. Christian Anderson, Dr. Don Peterson, Dan Coker, and Paul Watson.