GLA Belize is off and running yet again! And what a great start!
GLA Staff eagerly anticipated the arrival of the 31 students from all over the USA today. As soon as students grabbed their bags and made their way out of the Belize International Airport, we were well on our way to TREES. It is one of the most unique home bases with an absolutely beautiful backdrop of the Maya Mountains.
We arrived to TREES and all of the students got settled into their new homes for the next two weeks. Their colorful cabins were named after local animals sights: Jacamar, Tree Frog, Blue Morpho, Fern, Gecko, Katydid, etc.!
We had a very common Belizean meal consisting of chicken, rice and beans, slaw, and fresh orange juice. We made sure to priority our discussion on safety and dove into a round of fun introductions. Everyone in the group shared their various anticipations: snorkeling, meeting the Belize children, meeting new friends on the program, Mayan temples, and trying new things! It was a really positive way to bring the busy arrival day to a close!
Tomorrow has a lot of fun in store: orientation activities, a visit to the school site to meet the Principal, teachers, and students, and meaningful discussions on service. We look forward to sharing all that the program and Belize have to offer with the students!
The Belize Team
Kelli, Nichole, Laura, and Keri
June 22, 2017
This morning we woke up for breakfast at 8am (some earlier than others!) which was delicious eggs and fry jacks, a special bread specific to Central America. We spent a lot of the day getting to know each other and playing orientation games, and all of us have already made tons of friends! The whole day was filled with sharing stories and laughing. We also took a tour of our home base which consisted of a tiring, uphill hike!
After a lunch of bean and cheese taquitos, we traveled to the local children’s school, St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic School. The kids were so welcoming and generous and showed us their favorite games to play during recess. It was very shocking to see the conditions the kid’s lived in, and it was inspiring to see their positivity even in their situation. After meeting the kids we headed back to home base, and a lot of us hiked to the swimming hole, a small natural river that is safe to swim in. It was very refreshing in the humidity of Belize.
At dinner time we spent more time getting to know each other, and shared our life stories with small mentor groups. It was amazing to see how many people have similar hobbies and passions with someone who lives across the country! Dinner was some great spaghetti and salad.
At the end of the night, we put on skits in small groups as a fun way to go over the GLA trip guidelines. Overall, it was a very humid, yet exciting day, and we’re all eager for tomorrow!
June 23, 2017
Today, we started our morning off with a yummy breakfast. Half of the group went to a chocolate factory, and the other half stayed at home base and made lunch through a cooking class. We got to see how chocolate is made here in Belize! The group that made lunch did an awesome job! It was yummy! After lunch, we went to the school to paint the playground. Local kids even came to help us paint on their off day! We all got covered in paint, but it was worth it! After some hard work, we came back to home base. Some of us went to the swimming hole, while others stayed to relax. As the leaders of the day (Taylor and Lucy), we led a group activity to get to know each other better! We then ate dinner and a guest speaker came to talk to us. Emily is a well-rounded community leader who represents the people of her country. She inspired us to set high goals and be the best person that you can be!
Lucy and TayTay
June 24, 2017
Today we woke up and had a great breakfast at 8 am. Then we got on the bus and drove about an hour and a half to San Ignacio, where we split into two groups. One group went to the local market, while the other group headed down to the Iguana Project. After an hour we switched and then met up for lunch at Benny’s Kitchen. Everyone ordered a chocolate milkshake and had a meal of stew chicken. Afterwards, we got back on the bus and drove to the Maya temples. Here, we followed a tour guide as he showed us all around the site. We climbed up the temples and walked through tunnels, trying our best not to slip on the wet stone. Then we made our way back to the bus and rode all the way back to home base and had a great dinner of rice and pork. After that we played an exciting game of Belizean Jeopardy and talked about the highs and lows of the trip.
Now we are getting ready for bed, and looking for a great day tomorrow!
Emily and Erin
June 25, 2017
Hola from Belize! Today we woke up and ate fry jacks and eggs for breakfast. Then we hopped on the bus to Blue Hole National Park with our bush guide, Will. We trekked to the most amazing cave filled with a river, calcium carbonate stones, and even a vampire bat! Then we took a dip in the Blue Hole, although it should’ve been called the “Brown Hole” due to the heavy rainfall yesterday.
After cooling off, we came back to home base to enjoy another one of Alecia’s delicious meals, which included nachos. We then broke off into teams to compete in a scavenger hunt around home base, which concluded in a dance-off to break the tie.
Then we retreated to our cabins for a little downtime before the leader of the day activity right before dinner. We played Entertain Us Until We Clap and the Hand Squeezing Game. We finished the night off with a scrumdiddiliumptious dinner and a mentor group meeting.
As the Belizeans say in Creole, THAT WICKED!!!!
Love, Jesika and Ava.
June 26, 2017
This mornings breakfast was pancakes, hard boiled eggs with fresh papaya, watermelon, bananas and pineapple. After breakfast we split into our groups from day 3 and did the opposite activity. Half did cooking with the amazing Alecia and the other went to Lamanai Chocolate. We went on a tour and saw the chocolate being made first hand. We sampled dark chocolate, the shells off the beans, cinnamon chocolate tea and cohune tree oil (the oil is used in Rolex watches and is really good in salad dressings). We even got to try our hand at crushing the chocolate beans ourselves. We explored a cave with a friendly scorpion and learned about how the mayas make houses. We then went back to TREES and had lunch which the other group had prepared for us. They made papusas, cowl slaw, and fried plantations. The fried plantations tasted like steak fries and some of us even dipped them in ketchup. After finishing lunch we drove to Marie Sharps, a 400 acre farm and hot sauce factory. We toured the factory, saw the hot sauce being made, bought some for ourselves and even met Marie. Instead of going straight back to TREES we stopped at Country Barn for ice cream. Dinner was mashed plantain, coconut broth, and fried fish. To close the night Minerva, who helped create the curriculum, spoke to us about what we will be teaching at St. Augustine. We are excited to work with the kids tomorrow!
-Danika and Cameron
June 27, 2017
Today was our first day of classroom service at St. Augustine. We got to the school and broke up into our assigned grade level. When the kids came back from lunch, we got to meet the kids and work in small groups on the summer booklet. All the kids were so excited to learn and for us to be their teachers! Throughout the day we got to bond with our kids and learn more about them and their daily life. During “brain breaks” we got to play educational games and go outside and play the kids favorite games. The kids were extremely happy the whole time and super excited to come back the next day to learn more! It has only been one day but leaving our kids at the end was already hard and we wanted to take them with us! We came back to home base and played games and had a delicious dinner. We cannot wait to continue to teach and bond with the students of Belize!
-Chase & Ashley
June 28, 2017
Today we first woke up to a birthday surprise for Erin with the dinning area all decorated. We then went for a full day of teaching at the school. All of us connected with all the kids and created more bonds with the students. Once we got back to TREES we had dinner a little earlier and had a cake for Erin! We went to a poetry slam at a local library, which was amazing. The locals were amazing with their poems and songs. Even some of our own GLA students preformed! They even went around and gave question to answer. Sophie had a question on what she would change about her life
June 29, 2017
Today was another full day of school. We arrived at school after a hearty breakfast and got to our classes. Today T.R.E.E.S. was able to come into the school and give the kids a presentation on herpetology. The kids really enjoyed it and so did we! Working with the kids and seeing how happy and open they are motivates and inspires all of us on this trip. After school got out, we visited a great ice cream shop and took a little trip to Belmopan. It was a great outing that loosened all of us up. We came back and ate dinner, which was followed by a dance party. Seeing the rich amazing culture of Belize makes you question what you are doing worrying about nail color and new clothes. The kids who have so little are so happy, and so are we!
Dannie and Chloe
June 30, 2017
This morning we woke up for breakfast and ate delicious Johnny Cakes (biscuits), fried beans, eggs and fresh fruit, and headed out to St. Augustine, where we continued our service for the first half of the day. After a fun-filled morning of service, which included working in our workbooks, playing large games of soccer and taking one big group photo, we came back to TREES to enjoy a delicious Belizean Pizza. We then headed back onto the bus to make a quick stop at a local ice cream parlor, where we enjoyed multiple scoops of our favorite flavors of ice cream. We then came back to home base and broke off into our mentor groups to debrief our service so far. We discussed how we have grown as leaders during our time here and how we can apply our new leadership skills back home. We then had some down time which resulted in large games of ultimate frisbee, volleyball and soccer. Right before dinner, our leaders of the day (Dannie and Chloe, and Isabella and Abby H) led us in two fun group activities: behind the green glass door and a rock paper scissors tournament (which got very heated). We then enjoyed some more of Alicia’s delicious cooking, which included white rice, stew chicken and mashed potatoes. Finally, we all headed over to the yoga platform to take part in “Step In, Step Out”, which resulted in us having an emotional discussion where we were all free to share what was on our minds in a safe environment. To lighten things up, we received a surprise performance from Fern Frog, a two person GLA band which was formed last night J.
Isabella and Abby
July 1, 2017
Today we woke up and left on the bus for snorkeling. We had a long bus ride to Dangriga and then loaded up boats to go to Tobacco Island. Before getting to the island we stopped at Bird Island where there were TONS of native birds. As we were leaving the island it began thundering and started pouring (the captain of our boat told us that the rain was giving us a “beat down”.) The rain continued until we reached Tobacco Island but after that it cleared up and turned out to be a beautiful day.
As soon as we got off the boats we all were amazed by the beautiful collection of conch shells that were lying around on the beach. We walked on shore and around the island trying to find the perfect shell to take back with us. After exploring for about a half hour, we split into two groups. The first group collected their goggles, fins, and life vests and headed out into the water. The second group waited on the island for the first group to get back and then they went out.
While snorkeling we saw an abundance of fish such as blue tangs, angel fish, barracudas, needle fish, and flounder. We also saw some stingrays which was extremely exciting. We snorkeled near the coral reef and then we went to the sea grass where we saw more shells and learned about the two different types of sea grass.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, tanning, drinking milkshakes, and collecting more shells. Before lunchtime, the rain began again but soon finished. After it ended, we ate an amazing lunch cooked by Alecia and then spent the rest of the day jumping off the dock and swimming around with friends.
By the time we came home we were all exhausted from a fun day spent laughing and having fun in the sun. The rest of the night, we did activities as a group and tried to stay dry from the rain.
Later, there was a scorpion found in one of the cabins which was scary. The girls in that cabin moved into different cabins. Having new roommates was fun and exciting.
Overall, this day was definitely one of the most memorable days on the trip!!!
Emilia and Kenz
July 2, 2017
This morning we had breakfast then at eight left for the Belize Zoo. There, we saw a variety of animals such as tapirs, jaguars, boas, pumas, and toucans. Not only did we get to see these beautiful animals of Belize, but we also got to feed some of them! It was a rainy but good time for all of us. Upon returning to TREES, we had lunch, met with our mentor groups for group activities, and relaxed before dinner. We then exchanged letters to our peers regarding how much we appreciate their company. Tomorrow is our last day of service before we leave but we are all excited to see the kids one last time.
Pam & Mackenzie