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These final days of ours in Belize have been a wonderful mix of hard work and well-earned fun!  

On Day 6 (March 14, 2019), we continued with our school visits.  We facilitated health education sessions and offered health screenings for faculty and staff at the RC School in San Antonio.   

Leading a health education session with the students

Post-session review and discussion

During recess and in between the sessions, our students enjoyed some volleyball and time with the kids. 

Over the lunch break, our students set up for the free health screenings for the school's faculty and staff.

After our morning school visit, we took a tour of James Farm, owned by a local family in San Antonio.  Zari Newman '21 shared her experience of the visit:

"We met up again at the San Antonio community center, and the vans took us to James Farm.  We got to see the huge water tower that helps bring water to San Antonio village.  We walked further into what seemed like a never ending bush of green, before reaching a small body of water filled with little orange tilapia fish that we fed tortillas to.  A few feet further after that, we were at James Farm.  The people who lived there chopped up coconuts for all of us, and we drank the refreshing coconut water and ate the juicy flesh inside.  Next they showed us where they harvested their coffee beans and let us grind them up.  The second those roasted beans split open, the smell of coffee grounds filled the air, and we closed our eyes to smell it better.   

When your put creamer into real homegrown coffee, it goes from a rich brown/black color to murky gray.  I hesitantly took my first sip, and MMMMM it was so good!  Hands down the most delicious coffee to ever touch my tongue.  I'm not even exaggerating, it was so good- you can ask Micah!

We all sat around James Farm, coffee in one hand and coconut biscuits in the other while the sun sunk lower into the horizon."

The San Antonio Community Center area, where we spent many hours during our workshop sessions.
Group photo in front of the Community Center!
Fresh coconuts!  Refreshing on a hot day! 
Grinding coffee beans the traditional Mayan way!

Enjoying the smooth and rich flavored home grown coffee along with coconut cookies!
As Day 6 was a scorching hot day and our students had been working hard, we decided to surprise the kids with fun field games, which included playing with water balloons.  As Emily Cho '20 described:

"The heat of the day was brought to an abrupt end when the trip leaders whipped out bucket after bucket of water balloons. My victims: Noah, Kelly, Micah, Jordan, Brian, Hadyn, Thalia, Taylor, Rafa. Nobody was safe. I'm so lucky to be here with all of these people, there’s no other group that I would like to pelt water balloons at....I mean travel to Belize with :).  All jokes aside, this activity was just one of many that made me so grateful to have a wonderful mix of friends. I’ve learned so much about healthcare from the training, home visits, and vital sign work, but what really made this so much fun was the dynamic that exists between these people. It’s the fun, silly moments like the water balloon fight that make me so grateful for my peers here. I’ve made lifelong friends. Viva la Belize!"

Having a good laugh!

Playing field games!
Bonded after good old fashioned fun and games!

On Day 7 (March 15, 2019), we continued with our final set of home visits in Cristo Rey. 

Waiting to set out for our final set of home visits
After the home visits, we returned to have lunch at our homestays.

Plating the food for lunch at a homestay!
We then set out for a trip to the city of San Ignacio for ice cream, bubble tea, and a little shopping.

Taylor Hough '21 shared her thoughts:

"Today brought the last of home visits and although that was sad to realize we are nearing the end of our trip... we had an amazing time. Singing in the car. Dancing. Shopping. Laughing. I can ask for a better group of people to be here with and I loved shopping in the markets today. I know tomorrow will bring more new experiences and even more fun. I’ve made so many friendships and new connections here. Thank you Belize."

Enjoying some bubble tea!
Olivia Hadyn Phillips '21 similarly shared:

"After some (more like a horrendous amount) money spent at San Ignacio market, we all piled into a cramped van. At first, it was cramped physically. But as the car ride continued our spirits upstaged the lack of space and the car seemed to thrive off of our energy. The nostalgic singing (screaming) of old Disney movies and TV shows was an incredible way to end our third and successful round of home visits. Being in Belize has been surreal, and I think a vast majority of us have not yet comprehended that this incredible journey is about to end. So, in our last attempts of revival and memory making (whilst on a sugar high from sinfully refreshing ice cream), we all held hands and screamed into each others ears with utmost love for one another. Viva la Belize!"

Getting ice cream at Western Dairies in downtown San Ignacio!
Day 8, our final full day in here in Belize, has finally come.  Clara Wang '21 provides some insight into our final day as well as a reflection on what she will remember:

"The Health Fair in San Antonio brought the culmination of our time in Belize.  While I'm excited to go home, I think some part of me will always miss our time together.  I've gotten so used to seeing the beautiful views of Belize every time I glance out of a window, used to listening to singing in cramped vans, used to the easy conversations, friendly people and the exquisite food that always make you reach for seconds.  Thank you Belize for the wonderful memories.  I'll always remember my time here."

Setting up for our final Health Fair in the San Antonio Community Center.

Brian Ricker '20 beautifully offers his final thoughts on the program: 

"Belize was a trip that not only has taught me the extreme importance of public health care/education in developing countries, but also has shaped my beliefs and understanding of cultures that differ from my own. In first arrival, I was excited to learn about health care, but was not excited to live without air conditioning, phones, and hot showers. I’ve been happier, healthier, and more productive without all 3. Never thought I would be eager to read in free time or nap in the absolute middle of the day. Never would I have imagined I could be totally comfortable standing up in front of twenty kids and teach them about health care. Never could have imagined I’d be the cause of so many smiling faces, and be able to actually help complete strangers. Thank you Belize for teaching me that never is a stupid word."

It is hard to believe that we are in our final hours of our program in Belize.  Tonight we will wrap up our program with an awards ceremony, dinner and bon fire!  Then tomorrow, we will head to the airport early in the morning and will begin making our way to our respective homes!  Belize has taught us all so much, and it truly has been an experience we will remember for years to come!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful reflection Emily! Love to see that you guys learned so much while also having fun. To the entire team, have a safe trip back!