Saturday August 4, 2018
Good Evening, families!
Arrival day has officially come and gone! With 28 of our 30 arrived, our community is starting to blossom. Although two of our students are held up in Miami overnight, but we are so excited to welcome them to the Tropical Education Center in the morning.
After an awesome dinner of rice and beans and stew chicken (and stew veggies), we got to know each other by finding similarities and celebrating our differences. We have a super experienced group of young travelers, and are looking forward to seeing them support each other.
Post activity, we broke into mentor groups to touch base on expectations for the next few weeks, further our connections with each other and answer any burning questions before checking out for the night.
Our leaders of the day will be taking over the blog posts from here, filling you in on our adventures, challenges and learnings!
Here’s our team pre arrival of Eli and Erin (here, but not pictured) and Rachel and Abdul (arriving tomorrow). Will send a full group photo once our team is fully assembled.
The Belize Team
Sunday August 5, 2018
Today was the first full day ! We woke up and had the breakfast of champions. There was good bread, eggs, sausage, beans and fruit. After we got all of our food in, we had orientation. It lasted 9-12 and we can all say our butts are all sore. For lunch, we ate empanadas which were so good. Then Miss Emily came and talked to us. She explained to us the history and culture of Belize along with her work and personal story/experience. After, we did an activity where we had to find our buddy with a sticky note on our forehead where we couldn’t see. We could only ask “yes” or “no” questions to find the “jelly,” to our “peanut butter,” or “mario,” to our “luigi.” Then, we talked to our partner and found out information about him/her and then presented each other to the group. Dr. Minerva talked to us about the service that we will be doing at Saint Joseph’s School in Cotton tree. We went over the curriculum packets we will use to teach our students. After, we got our groups and went to visit the school. Our groups then split up into our classrooms and we organized our chairs and desks to get ready for tomorrow. When we got back, dinner was ready. We had really good fajitas and great tortillas along with it. After, we revisited information about service and asked questions for tomorrow so we can ready to begin service.
– Lexi and Collier
Monday August 6, 2018
Today was our first day of working with the kids and it was a whirlwind to say the least! The kids were super excited to meet everyone and see their friends after the summer. Since today was the first day, almost all the classes played games and icebreakers. At break, all the classes let out and played soccer and tag. We got back home just in time for a tasty lunch. We then had a workshop on Maya culture, women’s empowerment and education in Belize with the inspiring Miss Annelita Garcia. We ate sweet corn tortillas and made bracelets.
Before dinner, everyone took their swim tests because tomorrow, half of the group will be cave tubing and the other half will be going to the zoo. After dinner, we had service prep to make a plan for tomorrow. Before lights out, we all met with our mentor groups to discuss our days!! Overall, everyone is excited and ready to see all the kids tomorrow!
-Written by the Leaders of the Day: Maddie and Eli
Tuesday August 7, 2018
Starting off the fourth day in our program right, we ate banana muffins and bacon with a side of orange juice to energize us for our exciting day ahead! We took the bus to Cotton Tree Village to start our second day of Service. Being greeted at the gate by our kids was a great way to start our morning 🙂 we spent our day full of laughter and learning (whilst being teased by the kids of course). After our service day we headed back for lunch where we munched on a pasta salad, chicken and horchata (a rice / cinnamon /sugar drink). However, our day didn’t end here as our group split off into two groups for activities; cave tubing and visiting the local Belize zoo! (P.S. Dolly Parton took A photo there!) At the zoo we marveled at the Spider monkeys, Howler monkeys, and the Tapir/Keel billed Toucan (the national animals of Belize).
We fed many of the animals we came across too- such as the Scarlet Macaw and jungle deer. For the Cave Tubing, we drove off into the wild side of Belize, and ventured off with life jackets, rad helmets and our tubes to the caves. It was a combination of swimming, exploring the crystals in the cave and floating around whilst enjoying the beauty Belize has to offer! After our activities, we headed back for service preparations, getting into our groups to prepare for tomorrow’s lesson plans. Following up was dinner; mashed potatoes with seasoned pork, with a banana raisin cake for dessert. We ended off our night with a competitive game of Jeopardy, teaming up with our mentor groups to form the amazing three groups; The Suite Life of Kids and Codi (featuring mentor Codi), Abdul and the gals (featuring only male Abdul) and Baum.com (featuring mentor Emma). After sweat, tears and lots of competitive yelling, our winners ended up being Baum.com, giving an all or nothing in the final round! Before going the bed, we met for our regular mentor sessions and then headed to our cabins and cabanas for lights out! Can’t wait to get started with our next day!
Love, Tiffany and Liesl!!
Thursday August 9, 2018
To start off our day we woke up around 7:30 and had breakfast. The meal for this morning was eggs, peanut butter and jelly, and fruit. As usual we ate quickly so we could get ready for service on time. We left for service around 8:15 (maybe a little later) and headed off to cotton tree school. During the ride we listened to music and talked amongst ourselves until we got there.
Since it was raining all throughout yesterday not many kids showed up but there was still enough to teach and have a good class going. Although there may have been some issues, the school day went well and we all went back to home base talking about some funny or cute thing a kid in our class did that day. At 12:30 we had a great meal of chicken burritos and watermelon.
Everyone had a good time, the dining room was filled with laughter. The mentors got their food and everyone was enjoying the company of their tables. After lunch, we had a while before our next activity for the day began. Most went to their own cabin to take a nap and others went to be with their new found friends. Rejoining at 2:30, everyone was in the classroom excited to learn about the dancing workout. The dance class was the most energetic the group has been, everyone was letting loose and dancing their hearts out. We had finally come to an end with our workout and everyone was sad to say goodbye to another fun filled activity.
After we danced for a few hours, we headed down to dinner. For dinner today we had yellow rice, beef, and tres leches cake. As usual, we talked with our friends and enjoyed the delicious meal. As the day settled down, we went to our mentor groups and did a questionnaire filled with 520 random questions that you could answer. After mentor groups we went back to our cabins and cabanas and packed for the Caye. Overall it was an amazing day.
Grace Avery and Tyla
Saturday August 11, 2018
We started the day at Amor y Cafe for a tasty breakfast before the day of snorkeling. Then, one mentor group went out to the water on the speedboat while the rest took the catamaran. We got a tour of the reef, and all our questions answered about which fish we were looking at by our guide. After that stop we went to a different location and the guides put bait in the water to attract the nurse sharks in the water. We got the opportunity to swim with the sharks then get a tour of the reef in that area.
For lunch, the groups came together on the bigger boat. We had Macaroni salad, Rice and Beans, and chicken. We ate while enjoying the views of the clear blue water. After lunch we all went snorkeling at the coral gardens. We saw sea turtles and stingrays along with many different colored fish. Then we got to free swim in the water before heading back to Caye Caulker. When we arrived in Caye Caulker we went to the hotel to shower and freshen up for dinner. Considering we were all covered in salt from the salt water i’m sure everyone needed that. For dinner we headed over to Roses where we all sat at one long table.
Dinner consisted of shrimp, chicken and vegetable kebab. There was also an option of whole fish or grilled chicken. After dinner we split off in our mentor groups to debrief about the long and wonderful day. Then we had a few minutes to chill or sleep. After that it was lights out!
– by Caroline and Abdul
Sunday August 12, 2018
This morning we woke up to an air conditioned room, on the beautiful Island of Caye Caulker. We walked to breakfast and ate at Amor Y Cafe. We filled out mouths with waffles, fruit, yogurt, and fresh squeezed orange juice. After breakfast we walked in and out of local shops, buying different items for our family and friends back home. After that we walked back to our hotel, packed up, said bye to our air conditioned rooms and ocean view. We walked to the dock to get on a boat and head back to the TEC. Once we reached land the group and I met up with our bus driver Windell. Being the clumsy child that I am, someone threw me the bag of bracelet strings and when I tried to grab it it fell out the window. “The bag went out the window!”, “stop the bus!”, and “the bag!” were the only thing everyone said in sync. Jordan being the MVP that she is, ran back and grabbed the bag for us. Before coming back to our new dorms we made a detour to the Belize sign. It was a beautifully photographic ocean landscape.
Seeing everyone jump around and laughing with each other was an amazing moment for the group. Afterwards we headed back to the TEC, our home away from home. After arriving back from Caye Caulker we finally got to see our new dorms! There’s anywhere from 2-8 people per room which is great because we all get to room with the wonderful people we’ve met on this trip. The rooms are spacious with high ceilings made out of metal so that we can hear the patter of rain throughout the day and night. We have a community shower area-2 showers for 28 girls! So far we’ve been good about sharing and letting everyone have their time. For dinner we had chicken with a tortilla and some coleslaw on the side. The vegetarians got to have some delicious Kebabs. At the end of the day we all gathered for an activity where we were divided based on a personality test into separate color groups where we had to come up with different words to describe our group. After this we had a group discussion about how each group was important in a functioning society to bring a well rounded and diverse group personalities to the table in discussions.
-Bri, Rhiannon and Abby H
Tuesday August 14, 2018
Today we woke up to a gorgeous day with an awesome breakfast of banana muffins, bacon, yogurt, and cereal. Everyone was excited for the last day of teaching but looking forward to tomorrow’s celebration with the kids.
We boarded the bus and drove to service.
A lot more kids showed up at service today. Emily and I are in standard three and we worked on writing numbers and independent reading with the kids.
When we got back to home base we ate lunch which was beef and yellow rice with a side of cabbage salad and cantaloupe. We quickly prepared for our hike today and loaded the buses.
We had an hour bus ride. Everyone was very tired and fell asleep on the bus, Emma and our driver, Windell chilled while laughing at everyone sleeping.
We arrived at the Mayan Ruins – called ALTUN HA. We started by getting the background of the ruins. Then we walked around while having a tour of them.
As our tour concluded we walked up one of the ruins where we got an amazing view of the whole place. After climbing down we went to some souvenir shops. We had some smoothies and ice cream. Some of us tried sugar cane and raw coconut.
We took the bus home and arrived to an amazing dinner. We had shrimp Alfredo with garlic bread one of our favs!
Later we had a talk about the last day of service and the expectations with it. And lastly split into mentor groups and did a thoughtful activity on what shapes us! We are all excited and ready for the last few days!
-Erin and Emily
Wednesday August 15, 2018
After being away for about a week and a half it still amazes me that I’m here! In Belize! As we close out our journey and have our last few meals together we enjoy the lovely breakfast Juan Carlos and the staff made us today. Tortillas, eggs, pico de gallo, fruit and MG’s favorite, avocado. We then get on the bus and admire the beautiful scenery along the way to St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School.
Unfortunately today is our last day teaching and seeing the cutest kids ever! We start the school day with a few math problems, spelling words and history lessons…the usual. We enjoy every moment with our kids not only teaching them but learning from them. Break ends and the party begins! Loud music! Games! Candy! Smiling faces! everyone is having the time of their life. Loving and reliving every moment we’ve shared with these kids for the past week and a half. As our party comes to an end we clean up and say our goodbyes. Many tears and hugs exchanged from one happy face to the other. Leaving wasn’t easy. Believe me. I got teary eyed. But it was an experience that we will never forget no matter what!
After service we headed out for Marie Sharp’s hot sauce factory. There was no time to stop at home base so we had packed lunches. We stopped at a little playground along the way to eat. We all sat in a circle and talked about the day while eating a lunch of sandwiches with cheese, onion, chicken, tomato, and bacon. Good as always!
After that we were on the road for about an hour and a half. After driving through some beautiful green scenery, we arrived at Marie Sharp’s. First, we got an interesting history talk from Marie Sharp herself! After we learned about how the amazon company got its start, we headed inside for the full tour. We got to see all the different rooms used for making all their products, while also they receiving more information. After the cool tour, we got to go to the tasting room. We were able to try all their different hot sauces as well as their steak sauce and many different jams. They were all delicious from what i had tasted 🙂 Right next door was the gift shop where many of us stopped to buy some cool shirts, sauces, and gifts for friends & family. After we were all done purchasing, we made our way back out the door and got on the bus for the drive back to home base.
After returning to the TEC, we had some downtime where we could all shower and relax in our rooms before a 6:00 dinner of baked potatoes and chicken! Following dinner we had our final mentor groups where we talked about our original goals for the trip and how they have been changed and/or accomplished.
-Shay, Emma and Annika
Today was out last full day together!! It’s crazy how fast time flies when you’re having fun. This morning we woke up 30 minutes later than usual which was nice getting the extra sleep. And for breakfast we had fry jacks which everyone was very excited about!!! We then had time to pack up all of our stuff and clean out cabins. Then we had lunch and split up into groups to do different activities. Emma’s group did creative writing, Jordan’s group did some nature drawings, and MG/Codi’s group did mindfulness activities. After the group activities some of us went swimming and others chilled in our cabins enjoying some of our last conversations and card games with our new friends. After that everyone gathered up in the classroom and we made reflection flags. Where we could write something to remember this trip on a small piece of fabric. Many of us wrote Belize 2018 and had everyone else sign them, some wrote quotes and others drew symbols that have meaning to them from this trip. After that we gathered in our mentor groups for the last time, we had pizza for dinner on our last night. Then we had a closing group discussion, where we reflected on our experience. Where we posed many group questions like what’s next? And motivated us for our next adventure and how we can get involved. After we wrapped up we headed to a group bonfire, where we danced, stargazed, and laughed. A great way to wrap up the program. It was bitter sweet to soak in our last memories together. We all had a blast on this program, and were all so grateful for the memories and experiences that we hold on to forever. A special thanks to all the mentors, for making this program extra special.
Thanks for following us along on this journey!
-Frankie and Summer