Without moral and intellectual independence, there is no anchor for national independence. --David Ben-Gurion
Once a week, I share a (hopefully inspirational) quote with my students and ask them to share their thoughts, opinions, reactions, and reflections. Last week, because of the Honduran Independence Day holiday, I chose the above quote to get students to reflect. I asked students what they were celebrating Independence from, and they, of course, said Spain. I asked them if Honduras was independent today. The immediate answer from a couple of boys was, "Yes, of course!" but a girl in the front said quietly, "No." Then more people spoke up and we talked about how Honduras depends on international aid, among other things. Then we talked about what national independence really meant to them.
To my students, as teenagers, moral independence meant not going along with the crowd, or doing what you know is best for you. Intellectual indepence meant not discriminating against lower income people just because of the reputation of the school or university they attended. To them, it meant making objective, unbiased decisions.
To me, moral independence means standing up to corruption, in or outside of positions of power. It means being responsible for good parenting decisions and not perpetuating cycles of abuse and neglect just because it is common. Intellectual independence to me means preventing "brain drain" as Hondurans decide to study in Mexico, Spain, or the United States and stay there because of better opportunities. It means a greater focus on education for Hondurans at all levels in order to have a prosperous, responsible, and conscientious nation. It also means coming up with solutions to Honduras´s problems that work for and are tailored to the Honduran people... not just trying to be a carbon copy of other countries.
In the end, we focused on how they as the future leaders of Honduras could work on making this country a better place, starting with themselves.