Wednesday, February 15, 2012

San Ignacio, Belize

Belize has been on my mind lately.
I miss my students
I miss the heat
I miss the 'fruits of the spirit' song I taught
I miss ambergayes caye
I miss Mr. najarro
I miss cave diving
I miss the 75 ft waterfall
I miss the food
I miss San Ignacio, Belize
Last May I went on a study abroad trip to San Ignacio, Belize and taught 2nd grade.  For two weeks, I invested in these students lives inside & outside the classroom.  While being in 90 degree heat with a humidity of most likely 99%, we taught these students what we knew.  We brought in these ways of learning that they had probably never even dreamed of seeing.  We showed them exciting and fun ways to learn instead of sitting in their seats and copying word after word from the board.  After all, they were only 7 years old.  I learned so much throughout these two weeks that I never could have imagined learning in this time span.  It was hard, it was tiring, it was hot, and some days I didn’t want to get up and stand for 7 hours in a classroom with zero air conditioning, but it was worth it.  These kids were smart.  These kids wanted to learn, and showed me that schools can have no resources, and yet they can still learn. They were still as smart, and maybe even smarter than the students in America.
This one little girl captured my heart while I was there.  Her name was Hayley, and she was beautiful.  She lived in a small village a little ways away from the school and always brought new things in to class to show me.  One day, she came in with new tennis shoes that lit up, and I could just see in her beautiful green eyes how excited she was about them.  She had the coolest crayons, and always seemed like she was ahead of the game in fashion (they also wore uniforms, but I just had a sense about her fashion).  This is Hayley.

We taught the students about the food chain, and made a game out of it. We made alliteration frogs, and taught them a silly fruits of the spirits song during Bible that they loved.  What was extremely interesting to me was that many of the teachers at Bishop Martin didn't have teaching degrees.  Belize is in such dire need for teachers, that they allow people with degrees that don't necessarily have to do with teaching.  Not only were we given the opportunity to teach the students, but we had afternoon lessons where the teachers learned different creative lessons.  On the weekends, we were given these opportunities that were crazy.  I honestly have never felt so adventurous in my life. We went to the mayan ruins of Xunantunich and climbed all the way to the top. We also went cave diving! Let me just explain what all that entails..We hiked 45 minutes through this mountain and came across a water hole.  We stopped, and had an interesting lunch (the tour guide provided lunch), and jumped in the freezing cold water with helmets and a light.  We swam through an opening in the cave until we got to a place where we could stand.  We were walking, swimming, & climbing through this cave for 2 and a half hours.  I think I went through a lot of emotions during this period.  Personally, I'm not a huge fan of doing certain things where I'm not sure whether or not I will come out alive..I don't know but that's just me.  We climbed this cave, and as we made it to the top, we had to take off our shoes and put on socks from our dry packs.  We were taken through this historic part of the cave where the ancient Mayans had their rituals...yes people...sacrifices!!! I saw real human bones of a girl that was sacrificed!! It was a little creepy to say the least, but awesome at the same time. We also got to swim in a 75 ft waterfall which was pretty awesome as well.

After the two weeks of teaching and exploring we flew to an island called San Pedro which was off of Belize.  We stayed there for the weekend and snorkeled in the Belize Barrier Reef!! I will admit, I cried the whole time, while my sweet friend Rachel held my hand. haha I'm just a little afraid of sharks...and we swam in this place in the ocean literally called "shark & stink ray alley."  But hey. I survived, and I'm extremely glad I did it.
A week after I came back from Belize, I received an email from Hayley, which made me so happy. I miss these kids so much, and I wish that I were able to go back and see them. This was the email I received :  Mrs perez I am doing good  and you? I am having  fun  are you having fun? Mrs perez how are you doing?
   so sweet!!
Here are some pics from the trip:

                                                                   Maybe one day I'll be teaching your little ones :)