July 7, 2017
The 21-day Belize program is off and running!
It was a very smooth travel day for 24 of our new global citizens who arrived in Belize! Our program, comprised of all young women, came from almost all corners of the country with a shared goal to grow as leaders and to be of service in Belize.
All flights arrived by 12:30p, and we were well on our way to our home base, the Tropical Education Center. After a quick shop at the store to grab snacks, we were to our new home for three weeks by mid-afternoon. Students dropped their bags in their rooms, met their new roommates, and we were briefed by Diana, the Office Manager at the TEC, on safety and any other necessary information about our stay. We quickly dove into a a variety of fun name games, and of course, one that included dancing!
After our first dinner together, which concluded with a very tasty tres leches birthday cake for our Mentor, Elise, we headed back up to our classroom and asked the GLA Alumni to share their words of wisdom and advice for the new GLA travelers. We have five alumni who shared wonderful feedback to all of us: be present, enjoy every moment, don’t make any judgments, be open, and be mindful that 3-weeks will fly!
Before we called it a day, each room got together and made creative door signs for their dorms. To close, we had everyone say their first impression of Belize, this program, and this experience in one word. We heard everything from “hopeful” to “friendship!”
We are definitely off to a wonderful start and we are looking forward to spending these busy and meaningful three weeks with each of these young travelers!
Here we go!
Kelli, Elise, and John
July 8, 2017
Hello! My name is Madeleine Campbell, and I am the leader of the day!
Today is a blog of my personal adventure while on Day 2 of their Belizean experience!
Today was day 2 of our trip! I woke up this morning to the sound of the birds chirping and sweat dripping. It has been excruciatingly hot and we are all still trying to acclimate to the temperature here! So this morning I thought it would be a wonderful idea to do yoga outside with my new friend Hope! We didn’t make it through a full set, on account of we were slipping and sliding all over the wood from our sweatiness. After attempting to do yoga we both went for a nice cold shower this morning and then headed to breakfast! This morning we were served fried dough cakes, eggs, beans, and a little fruit. After we were sent to our classroom on the second floor to go to a meeting! We talked about safety precautions, rules of GLA, and got to know each other a little more. We played a riveting game of never have a I ever, chair style, and then went for a little lunch! Lunch was delicious with, buffet style, man made tacos. We were allowed free time after lunch, and a group of us started playing cards and got to know our mentor, Jon. We played all the way until it was time for our special guest, Minerva, ( the woman who helped started the belize trip all together) to talk about what she excepts from us as volunteers. She explained many of the kids learn english at the age of 5, so much of our job is going to being teaching the children about Literature. We want them to learn how to read, think critically, learn how to speak english, and give these children some tools for success. Education is so important here because if they don’t pass a standardized test at the end of their Eighth Grade they are not welcome to go to any high school. It is a very serious test that determines the fate of these children, and it is so important for us to help these children as much as we can before we leave. After learning about all the activities we are going to being doing with the kids we were allowed more free time. As. Everyone scattered around and went exploring, played more cards, and talked in Groups, I racked my brain for a game that we could all play before dinner. I decided on a game of Mafia, and it was very fun! We played a little bit before being shipped off to dinner where we had Tostadas. Again very delicious. Later that night we all made peace flags and gathered around a campfire and learned more about each other! It was a very productive day learning about all of my colleagues and mentors! Tomorrow will be even more excited, but as for now I am off to bed.
July 9, 2017
After a day of lounging around home base yesterday everyone was itching to get out and explore Belize. The opportunity arose and once we had eaten a delicious breakfast made by the kind people here, we made our way to the bus and after a short drive we arrived at the Belize Zoo. We split into two groups, each of which had a keeper from the zoo to lead us. Emmanuel, leader of my group and zoo keeper to the monkeys, then told us the zoo was opened in 1982 when the original animals were gathered for a documentary, now the zoo serves as a sanctuary and rehabilitation center. While there we learned about animals native to Belize along with some introduced, we got to hold a nine foot boa constrictor, we met Junior, a Jaguar they trained to do tricks after his mom rejected him, we even got to feed a tapir, the national animal of Belize. It was truly unlike any zoo I have ever been to, not only were the keepers happy, the animals seemed to be as well. We finished the morning off at the gift shop and with ice cream.
When we returned we had a lunch of mashed potatoes and chopped stew beef along with delicious homemade fruit punch before heading back out to see the school for the first time! We split into groups of four, each with a different grade and began to clean and sort the classrooms we were going to be using. Planning the classes is also up to us, we have a book to base our lessons on but most grades we have to tailor them to. Some kids gathered by the back fence and called us over. They were all so excited for camp and they told us all of their friends were coming, too! They also learned our names very fast, faster then we learned each others names. After setting up our classrooms for the next day and meeting the principal who is kind enough to let us use her school we once again returned to home base.
Our speaker today was a very nice woman named Miss Emily, she’s been a teacher for her whole adult life and along with telling us about her culture and the mixed culture of Belize she gave us a few tips on teaching. She told us the kids are very excited to learn and even though they may occasionally need encouragement they are all quite happy to be at summer camp, Miss Emily also told us that the kids will be very cuddly which everyone is looking forward too.
With three days under our belts we are all excited to see what the future has in hold for us.
With love from Belize,
Today was our first day of service and we all had an amazing time getting to know the children. We started off the day with delicious Johnnycakes, ham, cheese, and papaya. We then all loaded up on the bus to St. Mathews. The bus first dropped us off and then went to mile 39 and 40 to pick up some of the children. At about 9:30 we got to work with our classes. The children were very excited to learn and meet us and they automatically stole our hearts. After service, we returned back to home base for lunch where we had curry chicken and rice. We ate quickly and got ready for our next adventure at Blue Hole National Park. We loaded up and drove an hour to the springs. We spent an hour splashing and swinging from vines into the water. The cool water was such a nice break from the hot climate. After we got tired of swimming, we loaded back into the bus and went to a local supermarket to pick up snacks.
We were all starving by the time dinner rolled around and happily enjoyed chicken stir-fry and celebrated Hope’s sixteenth birthday with an amazing strawberry cake. Right after dinner we made our way up to the classroom above the dining hall to play a game of Buddha. The game is played by one person standing in the middle of a circle formed by the other players, this person is called the Buddha. The other players would be in pairs, one in front of the other. When the person closest to the Buddha’s name is called they have ten seconds to touch the Buddha with the player behind you trying to hold you back. We played for an hour and had such a fun time – everyone got so into the game and by the end we were all clapping and cheering. After Buddha, we sat and discussed our lesson plan for the next day. We had a blast with each other and our students and we are even more excited to return to St. Matthew’s tomorrow and afterwards learn to make chocolate!
July 11, 2017
Today we started off the day with another delicious meal that prepped us for our second day of school. We continued to teach and develop relationships with the kids and it was a lot of fun. After the fun filled morning of learning and play we headed back for lunch. We had some fabulous quesadillas and headed off to our next adventure at a authentic chocolate factory. We learned how the process of making chocolate is conducted. This was really interesting and also opened up a conversation about different work ethics in Belize. We headed back to home base to talk about our day and eat some good old spaghetti. Finally, we finished off the night with a fun group game and service prep for tomorrow. Overall, it was a great day and anxiously awaiting to see what tomorrow holds!
July 12, 2017
We woke up to many birds that were excited for the morning, getting ready for service gets easier every day. Today’s breakfast was slices of bread, eggs, beans, and fresh fruit and orange juice. Everyone was eager to get on the bus and head to the school to teach, we have all started bonding with our students and started to become close. After a long and fun morning of teaching we headed back to the base for lunch, where we had chicken and bean empanadas with coleslaw and pineapple juice, everyone was so happy to be eating and made sure they were full.
For our afternoon activities, we spilt up into three groups and all went our separate ways. My group had a cooking class at the base with Sandra. We had so much fun learning about how to prepare dinner for everyone, multitasking laughing so hard and peeling potatoes. We made chicken stew, potato salad, and fried plantains. This meal was then eaten by the group and thankfully they enjoyed the meal and had no complaints. After dinner we enjoyed a game of Mafia, which seems to be everyone’s favorite game. We concluded the night with service prep for the day with writing letters and making worksheets for the students who are so eager to learn more and more everyday.
This morning we went to St. Matthews School to teach. After our initial stop to drop our group off, a couple of us stayed on the bus to go pick up the children. Getting on the bus, the kids were so excited and happy to get the opportunity to learn and go to school, even though it’s their summer break already. When we arrived at the school again with the added children, they ran off the bus to go see their friends and hug their teachers. As the week is coming to a close, the kids were more energetic and pushed their limits in the class, but by noontime they’ve learned their share of English and were ready for lunchtime, just like us. After saying our goodbyes and cleaning up the classrooms, we got back to home base for lunch and free time before splitting up for our next adventures. One group went to a local restaurant for discussion, the next to the jaguar encounter, and the last stayed here to make a dinner of stew beef, coconut rice, salad, and bread pudding. After dinner, we played jeopardy about Belize and made groups for our painting project at the school tomorrow. Overall, a tiring but successful day in Belize. J
July 14, 2017
Today was super fun and FILLED with service. In the morning, we did our daily service working with the Belizean children who were very playful and excited to learn (like always). All in all, it was a really great end to a full week of teaching. Everyone has already made such strong bonds with the kids that will last a lifetime. For lunch, we had MAC AND CHEESE!!!!! We love the food here, but some American food was much appreciated. After lunch, we went back to St. Matthew’s School to do some hard core painting! We split up into groups: some people repainted the hopscotch lines on the side walk, some people painted a multiplication chart and others painted the walls of the school. Seeing all of our hard work when it was finished was extremely rewarding and worth all the sweat. When we got back to home base we had some chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner and then played a competitive yet fun game of Heads Up. It was an exciting day but we are all ready for the weekend break and the adventures ahead of us!
July 15, 2017
Hey friends and families!! Today the group kicked off our second week of life in Belize with an incredible trip to the ATM caves!! Before we could set out for our journey, we had a delicious breakfast of pancakes! Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures at the caves but believe me when I say the views were breath taking. Essentially, we drove about an hour away from Home Base and then hiked a mile and a half to get to the mouth of the cave. We were split into 3 groups of 8 and set off with our tour guides. In my group, our tour guide, Jam-Jam, was not only extremely educational but also extremely kind and funny. All the people we’ve met here in Belize are so nice! The hike itself was beautiful as it was through the jungle and we had to cross three rivers. Once we reached the cave, the first half of our trip was swimming through the parts of the cave that were under water and the second half was climbing through the dry parts of the cave to see the Mayan artifacts. The ATM cave was a very sacred place for the Mayan people, it was where they would do sacrifices and rituals. During the first part of the cave tour, we swam through tiny passageways and climbed from boulder to boulder. Once we climbed up to the dry area, we found ourselves in a room the size of a football field. Here we saw broken pots and human and animals remains. Jam-Jam explained to us the significance of all the pots and the sacrifices that took place in the Mayan culture. We then climbed up a ladder into a tiny room to see more artifacts. After that we returned back through the caves the way we came, but still completely awestruck by their natural beauty. The ATM caves themselves stretch for around 4 miles and Jam-Jam said it would take about 15 hours to explore. On the hike back from these beautiful caves, Jam-Jam picked us a naturally grown papaya and showed us the plant that the Mayan’s used as insect repellent. Once we got to the last river, he let us cool down and go for a little swim. We then met up with the rest of the group for a yummy sandwich lunch and headed back to home base. At home base we relaxed and had a delicious dinner of grilled chicken and rice with our all time favorite dessert, banana bread! After dinner we played some fun games as a group and then parted ways to hit the showers and go to sleep. It has been an exhausting and exciting day and we’ve got another big one in front of us tomorrow! The fun never ends! Goodnight!
July 18, 2017
July 18, 2017
Tuesday’s in the US may not be the most interesting, or the most fun, but here in Belize, things sure are different!
Our day started with breakfast; we had amazing biscuits, (four inches in diameter!), smothered with our choice of peanut butter, jelly, or ham, along with fresh fruit, so we were more than ready to take on the crazy, energetic, wonderful children we are teaching. Today’s main activity, in most classes, was a music lesson, learning different genres, as well as dancing along to some tunes! So classes today were blowing up with music of all sorts, and along the way we found some talented dancers, singers, and even rappers! Each day we are with the kids we grow closer, learn more about their lives, and enjoy them even more, which seems impossible!
Our afternoon today was jam packed! First we made an ATM stop for those of us who needed withdrawals. Then we walked across the street, to the Belmopan Market. Belmopan is Belize’s capital, and often we drive through it, going to different excursions, but today was the first time we were able to spend time there. Tuesday’s and Friday’s are the days that Belmopan’s market is at it’s fullest; so we got the full experience. The market included all sorts of goods, from fruits and veggies, to clothing and jewelry, to random trinkets of all sorts. Some of us even got gifts for loved ones at home, so get ready GLA families. 😉 After the market, we made a stop at a general store to get anything we’ve run out of, or want to snack on. And from there, we made a snack stop at our favorite restaurant Cheers! Most of us got American snacks we are missing, i.e. Milkshakes and french fries.
Our day concluded with a wonderfully prepared dinner of baked potatoes, chicken, and for dessert, vanilla cake! We then got into groups and watched a TED Talk, followed by a group discussion about the differences we wish to make in the world. It was an interesting and intriguing talk, that really made us think.
Overall, it was a wonderful day here in Belize! Pretty good for a Tuesday if you ask me. We learn more and more each day, and grow closer with our students, as well as our fellow teachers. Here’s to another great day of service! Ya mon!
– Carley Kormanis
July 19, 2017
It’s hump day! Our Wednesday morning started off with a delicious breakfast that included bread with jam and peanut butter, eggs, ham, and some melon and pineapple. After breakfast we went to the school for our usual service, but today the kids had more than enough energy!!! We spent time in our workbooks, but took breaks having dance parties and playing football to get some of our excitement out. Some of the teachers got their nails painted by their students during recess while others took part in games such as tag. After service we had a HUGE lunch of burritos, they were the size of our face! This is actually fairly common, because lunch here in Belize is the largest meal of the day. After lunch, Celso, one of the heads at the Belize Zoo, and a passionate tapir enthusiast, came to speak to us about tapir endangerment and their preservation. It was interesting since many of us had no clue what a tapir even was until we got here, so we encourage everyone to google them! (They’re relatives to both horses and rhinos, so they are quite unique! …and so ugly they’re cuteJ) The rest of our afternoon included free time: relaxing with face masks, taking naps, and friendship bracelet making. It was nice to have a calm afternoon after the children being so wild this morning! Before dinner we played a game of charades. Dinner was rice with either chicken or fish and yummy vegetables! After our meal we had a discussion about our service and our impact on the students along with the school. None of us are ready to say goodbye to the sweet faces we’re greeted by every morning; but we are soaking up every second of them we can get! A Wednesday for the books, for sure.
July 20, 2017
It’s the day after hump day, and it started out like any other typical service day. We woke up to the sounds of birds chirping at 5 am and heavy rain against our roofs. We had a breakfast that consisted of biscuits, oatmeal, and local fruits, and then we set out to St. Matthews to begin our service for the day. We taught our students the importance of striving to reach their goals and during recess engaged in some intense games of football (soccer). After a delicious lunch of tacos at home base, which we all ate too many of, we headed back to St. Matthews to complete painting the school from the previous week, but today we were assisted by some of our students! Though it was debatable whether the walls or we received more paint… After finishing we came back to the Tropical Education Center for a traditional Central American dinner of spinach tamales and chicken with coconut tarts for dessert and later a brief crocodile sighting in the pond. Then we all sat down and played a quick game before beginning to write letters to our students. This quickly became very sentimental as we all prepared for our last day with the kids. Overall, it has been an emotional, but great day in Belize!
– Lily Wielar
July 21st, 2017
Can you Belize this day has finally come? It’s hard to describe the emotions we’ve all been feeling, as today our two week summer camp drew to a bittersweet close. Beginning the morning with games and pictures, by the time 12:00 rolled around, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was amazing to see the difference we’ve made in the students’ lives, but more importantly the difference that they’ve made in ours. Out of all the adventures we’ve had here in Belize, saying goodbye to our kids was undoubtedly the hardest. Concluding our morning at St. Matthews, we headed back to our home base for lunch, only to quickly turn back around and head to Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce Factory. The scenic two hour drive gave us time to recuperate from our emotional morning while surrounded by luscious green mountains. The tour was short but interesting and ended with samples of all of their jams and hottest sauces. When we returned to the Tropical Education Center, we played a quick game of volleyball then headed to the dining room for a dinner of Pasta Alfredo. We finished the day with a quick group game then wrote letters to our future selves, which Kelli will send to us next summer. Overall, today had its ups and downs, but we all feel very accomplished with the work we have achieved and are looking forward to our cave tubing adventure tomorrow!
– Elisa Membreno
July 25, 2017
Today we had another beautiful day on Caye Caulker. We started our day with a yummy breakfast at a cute café in town. Some of us got waffles with nutella and fruit on them while others got sandwiches. Then we did some swimming and shopping… The water was so clear and blue! Then we all re-grouped and sat down for a yummy lunch of chicken and rice on the beach. After we all stuffed ourselves full, we got onto the ferry for a ride back to Belize City and a bus ride back to the TEC. We were all very tired after 3 days of fun on the island, so we took a nap before dinner. The island was so beautiful and peaceful, a place all of us want to return to in the future! It was a perfect closing trip to our wonderful adventure in Belize! Dinner was mashed potatoes, chicken and roasted veggies and salad. For dessert we had homemade banana bread! We then ended the night with activities and discussions with the mentor groups. All and all a great day, but very tiring! J
July 26, 2017
Today was a pretty relaxing day compared to everything else we have been doing these past two weeks. We split into our two mentor groups – half of us went cave tubing while the other half stayed behind, packed for our trip to Caye Caulker and did a scavenger hunt. I was in the first group to go cave tubing so we had breakfast and headed to the cave tubing spot. We put on helmets and life jackets and carried our tubes for about one hour until we reached the mouth of the cave. We jumped into the water and floated into the cave. The current carried us for most of the way so we just got to sit back and relax. Some of us jumped into the water and swam for part of the way. We floated all the way down the river until we made it back to our starting point so we did not have to hike anymore. We put our equipment back and climbed on the bus. Then we got back, had lunch and then it was onto our next activity. We packed our day bags because tomorrow we are leaving for our weekend trip to the island of Caye Caulker. After we finished packing we split into teams and did a scavenger hunt. Some of the items included learning the chorus of the Belizean national anthem, taking a picture of an iguana, and writing thank you letters to our driver and the kitchen staff at the TEC. After that we had some break time, did the leader of the day activity and then had dinner. Besides hiking to the cave, the whole day was pretty calm. Everyone is super excited to head to Caye Caulker tomorrow. We are going to be snorkeling and shopping around the island which will be a nice change of pace. I am super excited to experience the island life!
July 26, 2017
Hello friends! We woke up today and had yummy banana muffins with oatmeal and fruit. We all eat a ton and then from 9-12 we finished up all of our packing and did our final evaluations of the whole GLA program. It’s amazing how much this place feels like home after living here for 3 weeks, which made packing really hard. We then all went to lunch and had pasta salad and meatballs with fresh watermelon. After lunch we drove to a beautiful gift store called The Art Box which had so much of everything. It was nice to go to one last place to get last minute gifts and one last ice cream stop. Almost all of us came out of the store with beautiful gifts for our family and friends! Then, we played beach volleyball while blasting music and dancing. We all played until dinner was ready which was an awesome surprise of home made pizza and ice cream for dessert!! It was definitely an awesome last day, which lots of time to reflect on the trip (we did an activity about reverse culture shock) and its many adventures. We ended the night with a very unique and upbeat drumming performance by natives, while we all danced and laughed around the fire. There are definitely mixed emotions among us all as we prepare to leave beautiful Belize tomorrow. We miss family and friends back home, but we will all be crying at the airport as we say our final goodbyes. It is safe to say all 24 of us had some of the BEST weeks of our lives!
– Carmen Boll