After studying abroad last summer in Ukraine and Bulgaria I became rather seriously infected with the study abroad bug and decided I needed to study abroad again. I’d had some friends go on the Honors Program’s service learning trip the year before and give it rave reviews, so I decided that was the one to go with. The service component had definite appeal to me because it gave the opportunity to interact with people and learn about their culture while doing something beneficial and hopefully lasting. After spending the first half of the semester learning about Belize and what to expect, we departed for Belize at 3 am the Friday before spring break. While we were there, we spent a few days learning about
cultural topics such as garifuna drumming and dancing, natural medicine, organic farming, and the Mayan ruins, and then we started our service project. Every day we would travel to a remote village and build stoves, solar latrines, and solar dryers. It was hard work, but we also had a lot of fun with it and spent time playing with the children and seeing aspects of the villagers daily life. This interaction gave us a firsthand glimpse of how they lived, grew their food, and interacted with their environment every day. After spending about a week working in the villages, we had a short stay at Caye Caulker where we got the opportunity to go snorkeling in the reef before spring break ended and we came back to Ames.
Overall, the trip left me with a lot of lasting memories, to the point where answering “what did you do there?” get’s pretty difficult. I suppose a highlight reel of my favorites would have to include: visiting Mayan ruins, competing to see who could build the most stoves, snorkeling with stingrays and sharks, jumping off a waterfall, finding iguanas, eating delicious food, and learning that while I’m terrible with a saw, I’m pretty excellent with a hammer.
Posted by Emily