Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Belize Travelers and Global Citizens,
Time truly flies, but we haven’t stopped thinking about any of you! Your smiles and spirits have lifted us through these last few months! Reminiscing about your laughter, character, jokes, aspirations, and meaningful conversations have truly kept all of us moving forward with positivity as our days continue. We all think of you so much and hope that you are all in great places and enjoying school.
We laugh about how quiet the initial bus ride was when we picked you up from the airport in Belize City and how you all could not stop hugging one another when we had to do our shuttles to the airport to return home. I truly miss sharing Belize with each of you: running up the ruins, picking out bracelets at the local market, having meaningful conversations in the dining hall and dorms, jumping off the rope swing into the river, dancing before dinner, sharing our highs, lows and heroes (ha!), and being of service to the village of St. Matthews. We had so many great days together and we are grateful for the life-long memories with each of you included.
You all were the very first group to be of service in Belize with Global Leadership Adventures and you truly set the stage for future global leaders in Belize! The summer camp that you implemented with 125 local Belizean students was phenomenal. You all were so impressed and touched by the students that you took the initiative to create the Albert and Maria Fund in order to continue to support the high school education of deserving students. You all are amazing. How wonderful to have created something that future GLA students can support and grow alongside you!
YA MON! A handful of favorite memories:
- Sailing on the beautiful aqua waters of Belize
- Line dancing in the dining hall before dinner
- Sharing our highs, lows, and heroes ☺
- Each of us taking turns on the rope swing with Erik
- Early morning interview on Belize’s morning news on our last full day together
- Singing our favorite classroom songs at camp
- Morning waffles and fruit on Caye Caulker
- Racing to the top of the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
- Playing soccer in the mud at the school grounds
- Planting native plants and the National Tree of Belize (Mahogany) at the school
We wish you the very best with this new school year and hope that your experience in Belize is an experience that encourages you to continue to be a force for good and explore this beautiful world!
Kelli + Belize Team
Summer Blog Posts
July 6, 2016
GLA Belize has officially begun!
Students started arriving at 10 a.m., and by dinnertime we had 23 student volunteers here at Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, our home base for the three weeks.
(We’re still waiting for three students who arrive tomorrow, July 7. Can’t wait to meet you guys!)
Everyone was tired after long flights, but they still had enough energy to make friends over a dinner of Belizean chicken, rice and beans and cake. Then we did a round of more formal introductions, went over ground rules and shared what we were most excited about for the weeks ahead. Answers ranged from making new friends to meeting the Belizean kids we’ll be tutoring to visiting Mayan ruins and snorkeling. There were smiles all around as we closed for the evening, then a mad dash for the showers—anything to stave off the heat of the Belizean night.
And tomorrow we begin! Ya mon!
GLA Belize — Rhythms of the Carribean crew
July 8, 2016
To start off, Sophie, Nina, and Ishmael made to the base yesterday safely! So happy to have everyone here. Today was spent getting to know one another, both students and mentors, and learning about our service project. We watched a wonderful Ted Talk by Pico Aier and then had the principal of St. Matthew’s Government School, Mrs. Gordon, and the lead English teacher in all of Belize, Mrs. Emily Martinez, come speak to us about their backgrounds and the schools. We then ended the day with some great cake and a bonfire.
July 9, 2016
Dear the outside world,
Today was day four of our trip and it was the beginning of our outside adventures! We started the day by driving an hour to San Ignacio to shop for souvenirs and experience the life of local Belizeans.
We ate lunch at a small park and were able to speak to some children playing there. After lunch, we drove to one of the most anticipated parts of the whole trip: Xunantunich. Xunantunich (pronounced shu-NAN-tuh-inch) is a Mayan ruins site that has ancient structures as far back as 820 A.D. at the least. While we were there (after a mile hike to the site), our tour guide led us through the ruins and explained the history behind the structures; for example we passed by a ruin that was dedicated to sports and he explained the sport and how they created the ball needed to play. We then climbed to the top of the highest standing building, learning more and more about ancient Mayan culture on the way. It was breathtaking once we reached the top. We were high enough to see past the villages to the mountains, and even pointed out the road that divides Belize and Guatemala. Sweaty yet accomplished, we walked back the way we came and headed back to Monkey Bay.
I believe all in all today was a testament to the power of man. Humans created the villages they now live in and work hard to have quality products to sell. Humans pushed hard through high hills and fatigue to get where they knew they wanted to be. Humans worked and gave their lives to build a world for themselves, rock by rock, a world resilient enough for us to see 4000 years later by people resilient enough to withstand the hardships of nature and invaders in order to tell their ancestors’ stories. It was eye opening and empowering and fit perfectly with the message I gave to the group this morning via the quote of the day. We all come from pasts of strength and resilience, and it is up to us to tell those stories and push forward so our descendants to do the same.
“We are the granddaughters of the witches they couldn’t burn.”
July 10, 2016
Hello from Monkey Bay!
Today we started prepping for our service that begins tomorrow. In the morning we broke off into our classroom groups and planned our lessons. After about an hour of planning and brainstorming we finally finished our meetings, ready with a written plan for the day and a code of conduct for us to follow. After lunch we went out to St Matthew’s Government School, where we will be working to set up the classrooms which where all in different states of disrepair. It was there that we took a tour of the village and had the pleasure of meeting some of the village kids that would be in the classes tomorrow.
Overall, today was the day that the service aspect of the trip became real. Between planning our day for tomorrow and seeing the place where our days will play out for the next two weeks, it has been an empowering day.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”- Neitszche
July 11, 2016
Hey from Monkey Bay!
Today was our first day of service and it was amazing. Meeting all of the kids and being able to get to know them was incredible. They are some of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. At the school today we split up into our teaching groups and everyone had students to teach. We played soccer and hide and seek during recess which was fun for everyone! We’re all excited to go back tomorrow.
After lunch, we all headed down to the Sibun River for an afternoon of swimming and jumping off a rope swing. It was so nice and refreshing after a day of hard work. We ended the day planning for camp tomorrow, creating songs and games to play.
Today was a great day being able to have an inside look on a different culture and being able to connect with the kids.
“We rise by lifting others” –Robert Ingersoll
July 12, 2016
Hi to everyone back at home!!
Today was a really great day and there was absolutely no way to get us down (which you will find out later on). To start off, we had our second day of service. We had a larger turnout then yesterday and in my class alone we had 5 new students which really means a lot. The kids showed so much enthusiasm in learning and especially in a loving environment they weren’t used to. Connections are becoming stronger and stronger and I can’t wait to see how they flourish. On top of all of that the football (soccer) and hide-and-go seek games become more and more intense.
After a “long” day of service we took an adventure into Belmopan (Belize’s capital) to go food shopping and explore. We took about 7 steps of the bus before it started to drizzle. Then the drizzle turned to rain. And then the rain turning into an utter downpour. Granted, we did not let this get us down at all. We continued to play in the rain (shoutout to Bri for really embracing it). So to wrap this up today was absolutely better then what I could have imagined, in a good way, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
-Nina, Leader of the Day
“There is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it, and if you change one person’s understanding of it, you’ve changed the whole thing.” -Drew Dudley
P.S.- Thank you to Anya and Erik for finally having our deep conversations.
Hi from Monkey Bay!
Today, we went to St. Matthew’s to work with the kids again. It was encouraging, as teachers, to see how all of the groups improved both behaviorally and academically. Recess was a little difficult due to the heavy rains from the previous afternoon, but I was excited to see people still playing football (soccer) and tag games. Following recess, we all went back to the classrooms and played a bunch of fun classroom games.
After a relaxing lunch and siesta, we went to the Belize Zoo, famous for its jaguars and harpy eagles. The Belize Zoo was one activity that I had really looked forward to for this trip. It was interesting to see the wildlife contained as naturally as possible. A lot of students also got a chance to hold a boa constrictor. The gift shop and café provided everyone with some much desired ice cream and souvenirs. Following dinner, the group was terrorized by a giant beetle that flew and created a perfect story example for Lauren to explain a story arc to us. Overall, today was another awesome day and I am so looking forward to tomorrow.
Shoutout to Carly and Zoe for surviving the shower out of a horror movie.
Hi everyone back home!
Today we started off our fourth day of school at St. Matthew’s, which I think we can all agree has been one of the best days yet. We spent the day continuing to work with the kids on literacy by writing stories about heroes, with modifications for each age group. Just as the school day ended at noon, we experienced a brief but powerful rainstorm, forcing a huge group of kids to huddle inside instead of walking home. Here in Belize we are just entering the rainy season and we get a refreshing downpour almost every afternoon.
After dropping off all of the kids and returning to home base, we began our afternoon activity: making dinner with the amazing Monkey Bay cooking staff! We all broke up into groups and tackled a different part of the meal, including coconut rice, grilled chicken, coleslaw, kebabs, and homemade cake. I really enjoyed getting to know all of the women who work on the kitchen and understanding the huge enormous amount of work that goes into each meal. We decided that dinner tasted even better after making it ourselves.
We ended off the day with a classic GLA activity: a compliment circle. The first week with new people can be really difficult and it raised everyone’s self-esteem knowing that we had friends and finding out what others valued about us. Many of us agreed that this was a huge step in bonding as a group and it seemed to raise everyone’s spirits. I can’t wait to continue working with the kids and exploring the many sides of Belizean culture!
Also a big thanks to the Monkey Bay staff for all your hard work (especially considering how much laundry was washed today)
Hey to everyone back home!!
Thank god it’s Friday. Today was great and very emotional day for everybody at Monkey Bay. We all started our day off at service with the kids our last day of week 1. It felt good to start seeing familiar faces and kids getting use to the classroom. All the kids in my class remembered this clapping game called 7 and enjoyed playing it compared to day 1 when they were all looking at us crazy. The kids did an art project in the second half of class. It was amazing seeing the kids open up and start to fully become comfortable with us. After a long week of teaching the group took a hike through the Jungle trail down to the Sibun River to take a nice swim. We then ended the night with a very emotional game called step in step out. Everybody shared about issues in their lives from family deaths to abuse. It got real and intense very fast. Everybody cried and hugged it out before we all went to our rooms. The game made us all realize that everybody is different on this trip but very similar. The night ended in a very weird and emotional place but we all just supported each other. The game brought us one step closer to each other even though we thought we were pretty close.
-Ismael, Leader of the Day
July 16, 2016
Hey to everyone at home!
Today was a very fun day here in Belize. In the morning we went canoeing down at the lake near home base. This was so cool because we got to see the beautiful landscape the trees made over the lake. We stopped along the 2 hour canoe ride to swim and cool off in the lake which was very nice. By the time we got on the bus, everybody was tired. During the afternoon, we all got together to write in our journals about how it felt being half way done with our service trip. Also, we had a long talk about the different dynamics that were happening in classrooms when doing service. The rest of the day was free time to bond more with friends and getting excited for the week of service we had ahead of us.
Today was a great way to end our week of service by getting to see beautiful landscapes and chilling out on home base.
“Self worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” -Beyoncé
Leader of the Day- Sinclair.
July 19, 2016
Leader of the Day, July 19 (McKenzie):
Hello friends and families of GLA students!
Today was an amazingly jam packed day that I’m confident every one of us enjoyed.
We started out at St. Matthews writing letters with the children, which is an essential tool the kids must know to be able to pass their high school entrance exam. After recess, we all started various projects with the kids, including cleaning up the unorganized library, starting to plant shrubs in potters, and picking up litter on the campus. After camp was over, we headed over to Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce Factory, which is a worldwide company known by every Belizean. The bus ride to get there was about an hour and a half long, and we were able to view the beautiful mountains all around us on the way. When we got to the factory, we had the honor to meet the one and only Marie Sharp. She told us her story to success, and we walked through the factory and were able to sample every hot sauce and jam available. There was also a gift shop, and all I have to say is I don’t think any of us will be lacking hot sauce anytime soon. On our way back, we jammed to eighties music and even stopped at a little chocolate shop and filled up on truffles and chocolate ice cream. It was a great day, and I’m so happy to share it with everybody back at home!
July 24, 2016
Hi from Monkey Bay!
It’s so wonderful to be back at Monkey Bay after a great weekend away on Caye Caulker island! We took an hour long ferry from Belize City to the beautiful Caye Caulker on Friday afternoon. We arrived at The Tropical Paradise Hotel, which is located right across the street from the beach. For dinner, we went to a little pizza place and it was delicious! After dinner, we got ice cream and settled back at the hotel and beach. We spent some time stargazing and chatting and then turned in for the night in our air conditioned (!) rooms.
Saturday morning, we went to an adorable café for breakfast! The Belgium waffles with fruit were a huge hit. Then, we went to grab snorkel gear and headed out on a catamaran to see the 2nd biggest coral reef in the world! We snorkeled at three different spots and saw a variety of creatures, such as stingrays, nurse sharks, brightly colored fish, and if you were lucky, a manatee. It was absolutely beautiful to see a completely different part of Belize, hidden underwater. We spent almost the whole day on the boat, so we got back just before dinner. We ate at a little grill and then hit the ice cream store again. After that, we stargazed and sat on the edge of the pier. Then, there were some surprise fireworks down the beach! Watching those from water’s edge was breathtaking. I will never forget the reflections of the lightening in the distance on the water.
Sunday morning, we went to breakfast slightly later than usual so that we could catch up on some sleep and “Go Slow”, the island’s motto. After that, we did some souvenir shopping along the water and swam in a little channel off the far end of the island. We had a great lunch and then some of us got our hair braided and got henna tattoos! We feel super islandy 🙂
Now, we’re back at Monkey Bay and we feel like we’re back at home! The bug spray’s back on, now over a thin layer of aloe on sunburnt backs and we’re good! Tomorrow’s our last full day together and I’m sure we’ll make it a good one!
See you soon, America 🙂
Today was our last official day in Belize. Everyone was very emotional and nostalgic about the amazing experiences we shared over the last three weeks, and were dreading the upcoming departure. We started off the day waking up before sunrise to head to Belmopan to be interviewed by Rise and Shine, a major Belizean news station that broadcasts to over 365,000 viewers. The operator of the station had passed by St. Matthew’s on Friday, and asked all of GLA to join him for a live interview about our service and support for St. Matthew’s Village. After the exciting and stressful experience, we all headed back for free time and breakfast. After breakfast, everyone packed and spent time with each other, enjoying their last conversations together. In the afternoon, after our free time, we all gathered in the dining hall to reflect on our experiences throughout the trip. Everyone shared their favorite moments with the group, and talked about how they had changed. The atmosphere was very sad and melancholy. Most people were both happy and sad to be returning home, due to the friendships they made as well as the amazing things we all shared together. After our group conversation, we all took time to write letters to each other to read on the plane. The afternoon was relatively calm, as people processed the day ahead. After dinner, we had a short ceremony where everyone received awards from the counselors, saying things like “Most likely to become president” and “Most likely to get One Direction back together”. All of the GLA students then decided it would be fun to create our own awards to the counselors. The evening was filled with more reflection, and one last sharing of our “Highs, Lows, and Heroes” over the entirety of the trip. Many tears were shed, and we all ended the night with a big group hug and cake. This experience has shaped all of our lives in many ways and created life long friendships. We will all miss each other dearly and be forever influenced by this amazing opportunity.
We have attached a handful of our favorite photos from our trip!
Cassady- “You never leave a place you love, you take a part of it with you, leaving a part of you behind.” –Unknown
Mariana- “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” –Miriam Adeney
James- “One of the most neglected virtues of our existence is appreciation.” –Dale Carnegie
Cassady, Mariana, and James- Co leaders of the day