Skyanne Fisher (left) with one of the students she befriended on a 2011 trip to Guatemala. Fisher plans to return to Central America in early 2015 and is preparing for a yard sale to fund the trip.
Story by Rick Hiduk
Skyanne Fisher has a penchant for adventure. She also loves working with children. In January 2015, she will embark on her second journey to Central America to volunteer in schools while seeing as much as possible of each country she visits through the course nearly 12 months that she plans to be abroad.
“I’ve been wanting to go back to Guatemala for a long time,” said Fisher, currently 19. “I wanted to take the time to experience other countries. My goal is to see every country in Central America.”
After looking at a number of options, Fisher found that flying to San Jose in Costa Rica represented the most cost-effective entry point for her journey. From there, she will travel to Nicaragua, where her first placement awaits her – three months as an assistant with a kindergarten class.
Though she will be flying alone, Fisher will meet up with other Americans and Europeans who have found volunteer work to be a satisfying endeavor and also a relatively cheap way to see the world.
“It’s not as expensive as you think,” she stated, explaining that rooms for volunteers run about $23 per week, compared to the $5 per night paid by other low-frill travelers at hostels in the area. Working with children often provides opportunities to eat with them, but Fisher will have to find her own meals outside of her volunteer shifts.
Through her association with the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, Fisher traveled in 2011 and 2012 to Guatemala and Panama, where one of her assignments was to help Spanish-speaking children master English.
This time, Fisher hopes to become more fluent in the native tongue of most of her students. “I’ll be spending a few weeks at a Spanish (language) school prior to my first volunteer placement,” she related. “I’ll be doing a Spanish immersion.”
When asked how her family members, hailing primarily from Wyalusing, Leraysville and Stevensville, feel about her adventurous spirit, Fisher chuckles, “I think most of them think that I am crazy, but most of them support me.”
Safety is always her primary concern, Fisher maintained, but she does dwell on what could go wrong.
“I think we fabricate certain dangers,” she said of fears some express to her. “Anything bad that can happen there can happen here too. I’m not going to stay in Pennsylvania because something bad may happen somewhere else.”
Simply being aware of one’s surroundings and avoiding potentially dangerous situations is the answer to such concerns, Fisher insists.
“I’m not going to search out danger,” Fisher remarked, noting that she will only travel by day. “I wouldn’t go wondering through a city at night.”
Fisher will keep herself abreast of the sociopolitical status of each country that she hopes to visit and admits that current unrest in the Honduras might prevent her from going there next year. That could change between then and now, though. “I’ll do my research and be smart about it,” she stated.
Fisher currently lives in Natrona Heights near Pittsburgh but is back in the Wyalusing area to divest herself of most of her earthly belongings. From Friday to Sunday, August 15 to 17, she will conduct a yard sale to raise money for her trip. “I’m selling everything that I’ve collected since I was a little kid,” Fisher related. “I’m getting rid of everything.”
She will need several thousand dollars to cover the costs of 11 months of exploration. She hopes to have enough funding to stay in Central America into December 2015 and return in time for Christmas. The sale will take place at the home of her grandmother, Dianna Cresho, located at 1006 Route 706 just before Cargill Meat Solutions north of Wyalusing.