Time Capsule Letter
Boy, time sure flies when you’re making an impact on the world (and having fun doing it)!
I know we said this a lot, but you guys left some big shoes to fill. Through these past 21 days every single one of you made such a lasting impression on us mentors, Mrs. Emily, and the students at Helping Hands, not to mention every other person you connected with! From the excursions to the classroom to snorkeling on the Caye, you truly embraced what it means to be a global citizen and exemplified appreciation and gratitude for life. Never forget the tiny hugs and huge hearts of the students. You affected them in such a positive way; just as much- if not more- than they affected you. Side note, I have a suspicion that RayJey’s pants peeing was his way of showing affection.
I sincerely hope that once the dust settles y’all have a chance to not just reflect on the experiences you’ve had here, but to also apply what you’ve learned and be the change. Open the next chapter of your life with your group’s One Meaningful Goal: “Be present, engaged, and productive; seek out opportunities.” Make small changes like making your bed and using your phone less, but also push yourself to find new adventures & give your time to helping others. Remember that whatever you do, be sure to give it all you’ve got, because #yolo.
Remember how quiet Cruz was at the beginning of the program? How Pryanna was horrified of every bug? How reserved you all were? Holy smokes! Y’all came out of your shells with your souls ablaze! You guys started trends with your glue hands and lime juice hair. You trapped tarantulas and swam with sharks. You broke down barriers and traded weird slang. You formed bonds and friendships that can’t be shared by anybody else in the world. From valley girls to Virgin Islanders and everywhere in between, you guys make up the best of the best. Stay rad.
Written by Layni, sentiment felt by all.
Friday June 28, 2019
Greetings from Belize!
All of the GLA team are so excited to finally meet the 14 students on the Belize: Initiative for Children program. We all started to get to know each other while we waited for everyone to arrive. After a long travel day (or two!), the students arrived to their new home for the next 21 days at the gorgeous tropical paradise T.E.C. Homebase.
The sounds of birds, the scurrying of iguanas, and lush jungle plants greeted the students upon arrival. The next 21 days will be filled with all kinds of new sights and sounds, teaching summer classes at the local school, leadership activities and discussions, fun adventures, and new friendships. Speaking of new friendships, the session was kicked off with a round of making friendship bracelets!
After a delicious dinner at Homebase and letting everyone know what to expect for tomorrow, students settled in after a long day of travel, to get a good nights rest amongst the sounds of the forest, ready for a full day of Orientation and games tomorrow!
June 28, 2019
By: Erica Wrona
Belize: The Initiative for Children
June 28-July 12, 2019
Saturday June 29, 2019
Today we had our first official day on the program. Starting off with orientation and ‘get to know you’ activities, we learned a lot about GLA and each other! For lunch we had the most delicious quesadillas. After that we had a full tour of the beautiful home base (complete with iguana sightings!) and some chill time in the pool.
There was a bug apocalypse during dinner, but we were protected inside the dining room as we enjoyed our stewed beef and mashed potatoes.
Looking forward to a busy day tomorrow out and about in Belize!
Written by Layni (International Mentor)
Sunday June 30, 2019
Today was a great day. we started off the day at 7:45 and for breakfast we had fried dough, eggs and ham, beans, and other fruits. then we headed for Xunantunich mayan ruins which we hiked up to and they were beautiful. after the hike down we got some time to go shop and then we went to lunch. for lunch we ate some delicious rice and beans with chicken and potato salad. after lunch we went to the green iguana project over there they help injured iguanas and we even got a chance to hold, pet, feed them. we ended off our excursions with some ice cream at an adorable little ice cream shop. after returning back home we had dinner which was spaghetti with sauce and bread. for dessert we got chocolate cake. we ended the day with some leadership activities, mentor groups, and shout outs. finally at 9:45 it was lights out.
By: Araba & Aishi
Written by: Pryanna Alper & Jahan Daswani
Monday July 1, 2019
Today was the first day we got to work with the kids at the school, Helping Hands. It was an amazing experience. We all worked with different ages and types of kids and got to get a really good idea on who they are. Today we also got told our after service activities. Half of us went to the pool to relax and swim. The other half got to cook the dinner for the day. It was rice and beans, veggies, beef, potato salad, and orange juice made from squeezing 100 oranges (we made everyone drink the juice). After that we did fun activities that taught us how to manage and conduct an activity with a group of people. Then we ate dinner, which was extremely delicious, and talked about our experiences with the kids for that day. Lights out was at 9:30, but as always the girls did some more bonding in the cabins 🙂
The food today was some of the best we had so far so we called Juan Carlos into the dining room to thank him. For breakfast we had pancakes, oatmeal, bacon, oranges and papaya with orange juice, Nutella (thanks to Araba), butter, and Aunt Jemima syrup. For lunch we had corn tostados with chicken and beans inside with tomato paste and cabbage salad. It was an all around super good food day. As a group we are really thriving and we’re all super excited to continue working with the kids and go on exciting adventures together.
Written by: Pryanna Alper & Jahan Daswani
Tuesday July 2, 2019
Today we woke up, and had some delicious eggs, toast, and sausage. After breakfast, we left home base and headed to the school. We worked with the kids for 3 hours. Last night, we came up with some learning strategies for our classes, so we did our best to apply those. After school, we came back to a delicious lunch of fish sandwiches, and french fries. After lunch we tuned in to the woman’s world cup soccer game!
In the afternoon, we focused our attention on improving our leadership skills with a heated role playing activity. We then were able to relax and cool off in the pool after a long day and had yummy chicken, rice, and cake. To wrap up the day, we met with our mentor groups and did service trip for the next day!
By Alina & Abby
Wednesday July 3, 2019
Early today, several of us enjoyed a morning run and yoga. For breakfast we ate biscuits with beans, cheese, and ham and pineapple juice. We took the bus to school and started our day of service; a day filled with the Little’s peeing their pants and the Standard 4’s learning three-digit multiplication.
We came back to home base for lunch and had nachos with all kinds of toppings. After lunch, we participated in a traditional dance class and learned 3 dances from all over the world. We learned that Brad was the best dancer in the program and Pryanna and Bella can get really into Belizean dance too. After some service prepping for tomorrow, we got to relax in the pool for a while and then met up again in the classroom to continue planning our lessons.
We had diy burritos for dinner and then brought out cake for Erica because TODAY WAS HER BIRTHDAY!
Following dinner we did some exercises to advance our leadership skills and concluded the night in our mentor groups. Overall, today was amazing and we continued to grow our relationships with each other.
Written by Izzy & Ale
Thursday July 4, 2019
Today we had a busy day starting off with an early morning breakfast of eggs, tortillas, and bacon. We then went to service from 9-12 and had a sack lunch with chicken and rice on the bus afterwards. After that we went on an hour and a half drive (including lots of music) to the hot sauce factory which is owned by the only woman in the hot sauce hall of fame. There we had a chance to browse the gift shop and buy an assortment of hotsauce. “Back on the road again” to base camp and on the way we got some amazing ice cream and stopped at “the mall” for snacks. Although we weren’t home to celebrate the Fourth of July we still had an amazing day.
(Isabella von roenn)
Friday July 5, 2019
Today was an interesting and fun day. We started with a breakfast of eggs, sausage, bread, refried beans, and papaya. We were on the bus and left the TEC by 8:15 and we got to Helping Hands a full fifteen minutes before the start of classes. Today we had the parent of two students at the center play the drums for a demonstration which included group songs and dances. After running the classes, we ate tamales for lunch on the bus. After the sack lunch, Mrs. Emily taught us a little about the history of Belize focusing on culture and the education system, including why our service at the center is so important.
At about 2 o’clock we began cleaning the shelves in the back corner of the center, uncovering many cockroaches which were killed with a fly swatter, a belt, a broom and pieces of plastic pipe. We also found a small jean jacket which Jahan tried on and a tarantula hidden in the back corner of the room. To keep it from being smashed by the boys, Bella trapped it in a bucket and Whitney took it outside to set it free.
We did manage to get the shelves organized and the rest of the center swept and clean by about 4 o’clock. On the way home we stopped at Art Box for souvenirs and coffee. For dinner we ate pasta salad, potatoes, baked chicken, vegetables, and flan. Then, after writing some journal questions about service and making service flags to hang at home base, lights were out by 9:30.
Saturday July 6, 2019
As today was a Saturday, we did not have any service. Instead, we spent the day rotating through different activities. First, Whitney led us on a nature photography hike. We walked by countless trees and plants, stopping at several look outs to take photos with the gorgeous scenery. We learned about rule of thirds, the golden ratio, and other photography essentials. Overall, the hike was very beautiful and we got a great look at the nature of Belize.
Our next rotation was with Erica where we watched a Ted Talk about happiness and then proceeded to make art with nature. The Ted Talk was very interesting and gave us tips on how to be genuinely happy from the inside-out. Next, we went outside to explore nature and make art with varying pieces of nature. For example, we used leaves, sticks, and pinecones to represent different ideas.
Our last rotation, with Layni, was a field day. We played different games such as balancing a lime on spoons in our mouths, a three legged race, and a water balloon toss. The two teams competed in a number of games and it was a great bonding experience.
Finally, we took a trail to the Belize zoo and got to see incredible animals. We got a tour of the zoo, seeing countless animals such as cougars, crocodiles, jaguars, and vultures. Overall, even though we were not doing service, Saturday was extremely fun. We got to walk gorgeous paths, play games, and see exotic animals!
-by Emme Shaffer
Sunday July 7, 2019
Today at GLA, we went on an excursion to the ATM Cave. Before the Mayans disappeared, it was used as a Church for various events. It was about an hour and a half car ride there. When we got off the bus, we went straight to gearing up for an educational adventure! To get to the Cave itself, we had to walk for about 40 minutes through a forest like terrain, which also had 3 rivers.
Once we got to the entrance of the cave, we split up the group into 2 groups of 7, with 1 mentor per group, and 2 mentors getting their own private tour with another guide. The cave itself was 5.5 kilometers, but we only visited 0.5 kilometers of it. In the cave, we had to swim, climb and hike, to get to the “main hall” of our tour. In this part of the tour, we saw many artifacts including clay pottery, remains of sacrificed Mayan’s, and some beautiful stalagtites and stalagmites. There are no cameras allowed in the caves, so we could only get the one picture for today on the way to the caves.
After a long hike back from the ATM Cave, taking the same route we took heading there, we had lunch at the rest site and enjoyed chicken salad sandwiches, plantain chips, and cupcakes. On the drive back, we stopped at “The Mall,” aka the supermarket, to grab some snacks.
Back at home base, we did some brief service prep for the next day and had dinner. After dinner, we did a leadership activity that was definitely a favorite so far. We did an anonymous compliment circle that left a lot of people in tears from feeling so loved and appreciated. To end the night, we met with our mentor groups and then the lights were “out” at 9:30.
By Jahan Daswani and Izzy Werdesheim
Monday July 8, 2019
Today was a special day because we had two birthdays, Aishi and Whitney! We started the day doing service at Helping Hands. We all ran our classes smoothly despite it being a Monday and the kids having so much energy. A radio show even came by to take photos of our classes and talk to some of us.
After service was over, we headed to Home Base for lunch, followed by a birthday surprise. We went to a cool ice cream place called Mooncrust where everyone got drinks called “cholis” (which were basically frappuccinos with ice cream).
After Mooncrust we went back to home base, where we saw Erica in the pool area jumping up and down extremely excited with balloons everywhere. The councilors had surprised Aishi and Whitney with a pool party! We all went to the pool and payed lots of fun games of tug o war and just swam around.
After the pool party we had some time to ourselves to shower, call our parents, etc. Then we headed to dinner and did some very helpful service prep like we do every night before service. Then we ended the day with some time before to hang out and call friends and family, and went to bed.
By: Emme Shaffer and Ale Sigg
Tuesday July 9, 2019
Today we started off our day with a delicious breakfast at 7:30. After that we continued to our daily routine of going to Ms.Em’s for service and after service we had a sack lunch and headed off for the blue hole national park. The national park was beautiful although the water was really cold it was still a highlight of the day.
Over there we also got to see into this dark cave where the longer you looked into it the deeper it got. After the Blue Hole we dried off and were on our way back when our bus broke down. However we did get a new one and finally reached home base. Later that afternoon we had some activities then dinner and finally ended the night with mentor groups.
By: Aishi and Bella
Wednesday July 10, 2019
Hello ladies and gentlemen all over the US! Welcome to another blog 🙂 Today was a pretty chill day to be honest me (Pryanna) and Brad where the leaders of the day. It was a good day of service and after that we broke into two groups. One went to the pool and the other cooked dinner. The pool was much much needed, because it is extremely hot down here.
After that we all got together to do our daily activities. Then we had dinner and played jeopardy!! My team almost won but in the last round we didn’t bet enough money (I really should’ve went with Carmen’s idea because then we would’ve won), but there wasn’t really a prize so we’re chilling ;). Any who, overall great day and great mementoes made as always. Tune in tomorrow for another day with another blog. 👍🏼
Thursday July 11, 2019
Today we had service from 9-12. After that we went to the grocery store and stocked up on snacks. Then we went back to home base and swam in the pool. We did service prep and a leadership activity before dinner. After dinner we had mentor groups. We ended the day with a super fun movie night. We watched Rio (one of the greatest movies of all time). That was the day!
– By Alina
Friday July 12, 2019
On July 12th was our last day of service at Helping Hands with Mrs. Emily. First we started out our day with a 7:30 breakfast and then we headed out to Belmopan for service. Since it was our last day we were all very sad to let go of our kids but we all got things to remember them by. We all took pictures with our kids also. After we said our goodbyes to helping hands we headed back to TEC for lunch.
After lunch we changed and got ready for cave tubing. Cave tubing is basically a hike up to a cave and floating through the cave in this gorgeous water. It was honestly so relaxing and refreshing and the water was so blue and clear. After cave tubing we left and showered ate dinner and then had a leadership activity. We also got ready for the Parent empowerment workshop that was on Saturday. Overall it was a great day.
-by Araba & Abby
Saturday July 13, 2019
This morning we had a nice and early breakfast at 7:15. We had a hearty meal of fried dough, eggs, and beans. Then from there we headed off to Helping Hands for the Parent Empowerment Workshop.
Once at Helping Hands we set up for the workshop by cleaning the room up and welcoming parents. During the parent workshop there were multiple inspirational guest speakers who gave all of us a boost of confidence. We also sang the Belizean national anthem and did a skit on the ABC’s of parenting. After the successful workshop we cleaned up and took pictures with Mrs.Emily and the local Belizean volunteers. We then took Mrs.Em our for cholis, ice blended coffee, for a celebration of her success with the parent empowerment workshop.
After the long and hot day we went swimming and hung out before getting ready for Caye Caulker. After a yummy dinner of Mac&cheese and chicken fingers we made informational letters to the next volunteer group about our students. Ending the night we packed for Caye Caulker and went to bed for a full day tomorrow.
-by Hannah and Carmen
Monday July 15, 2019
Snorkeling Day!!! On this wonderful Monday morning we had a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant in Caye Caulker. Next we went to get our snorkeling gear and headed to the boat. Throughout our trip we saw sea turtles, nurse sharks, and even an octopus. Halfway through the excursion we had a yummy lunch of rice and beans with chicken.
After the long day we washed off and split into groups to do different afternoon activities. Some went to see pelicans, sting rays, and seahorses in the wild. Others waited later to see the beautiful sunset. After dinner we all crashed after a long day in the sun.
Last night was an epic evening of sharing memories during the Capstone Showcase, shedding tears, feeling all the feels, an extra long shout-out circle, and an unexpected visit from a bat who joined us in the classroom to bid everyone a fond farewell. To say we will miss the students is a vast understatement. This group is well on their way to change the world for the better. Their positivity, inspiring ideas, laughter, kindness and compassion, and understanding of what it means to be a global citizen, creates a ripple effect out into their communities.
These 14 change-makers have visibly transformed in the 21 days they spent in Belize, and today we send them off knowing that the change starts from within. We witnessed them transform, step up, step out, push past their comfort zones, sing songs from their souls, lead with their hearts, teach with passion and patience, and laugh and laugh and laugh into the stillness of the night. We staff can’t thank this group of students enough, for the way they transformed our own hearts and souls, and took loving what we do to a whole other level.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! We miss you already.
Erica, Emma, Layni, Whitney, and Kelli