Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Day 12: Last night in Belize

         What a fantastic last day in Belize! We spent today traveling, shopping, and reminiscing on the amazing memories from the past 12 days. We began our morning with breakfast at Cardies before we traveled to a shopping center near where we hiked the other day in the rainforest. After shopping, we continued traveling and stopped at the Art Box for some last minute souvenirs and then had a wonderful lunch at Cheers. After lunch, we went to the Belize zoo where several of us got into the cage where the jaguar licked you and ate from your hands. What a neat and unforgettable experience!  Our next stop was the Belize best western hotel for the night. After we got our room assignments, we relaxed and got ready for our final dinner on our trip!  Some people were lucky enough to meet up with Kenzie's family (who lives in Belize) to get a tour of Belize city before dinner!  We were served an amazing meal at our hotel to finish out the trip. After dinner, our team leaders gave each student a handwritten post card that detailed their work during our 12 days in Belize. They included pictures and heart felt messages with our post card.  After everyone received their post card, Dr. Pentecost gifted the leaders of the trip with something special to thank them for their tremendous help. Next, our amazing student leaders, Kelsey and Jordan, presented all of us with "superlatives" that made everyone laugh! After our superlatives, Jordan and Kelsey gifted all of the group leaders to thank them for their hard work.  Finally, Dr. Pentecost gave a "cord" made in Belize to each student who is graduating on Saturday to wear at graduation. It was so touching and special to receive this.

 Allison and Autumn


Cody, Kelsey, Jordan, Dr. Id-Deen, and zoo keeper.

Junior, the jaguar at the zoo.

Graduating Seniors from the trip.

Toucan at the Belize Zoo.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Day 11: Last Day at Red Bank and San Pablo

With heavy but full hearts, we had to say goodbye to the incredible students and teachers at Red Bank and San Pablo today. At Red Bank, we began our day with devotion in the school yard where the students sang, danced, and prayed together! We also judged the poster contest that represented Education Week which each class created! During lunch, the Red Bank teachers and staff prepared and served us a homemade Belizean meal while we gathered for a celebration of our time spent together. All the food was grown in the village of Red Bank which included a variety of fresh fruits and hot tamales; it was delicious! During the celebration, the teachers shared kind words and special memories from the week and exchanged gifts with us. As the school day came to a close, we maximized our time by playing outside with our students and walking them home. As we left the village, you could sense the sadness among everyone. We’ve built everlasting relationships and will forever be grateful for our experiences at Red Bank. We’re overwhelmed with love and joy as we leave the village, and although they feel like we’ve given so much, we feel we’ve taken so much more. We have grown, not only as teachers, but as individuals, and we’re certainly leaving much different than we came.


                                                                                                Autumn and Allison (Red Bank)


Principal at Red Bank with Dr. Finch

Red Bank teachers with UofL students

Red Bank village

Autumn with one of her Red Bank students

Allison with one of her Red Bank students

Caroline with some of her San Pablo girls

River in San Pablo

Kenzie with her Standard II kids at San Pablo



Monday, May 8, 2017

Day 10: Cockscomb Basin Excursion

Today was our tenth official day on our journey in Belize. We have been so fortunate in the opportunities that we have been given, whether it be our teaching at Red Bank and San Pablo or hiking in a Belize rain forest.


The San Pablo group went on the familiar bumpy road, passing farm 14 and what seemed like miles and miles of banana farms. Upon arriving at the school, we were welcomed with “good morning miss” and children gathering to greet us. The best part of the day is receiving hugs from students throughout the day. Friday the students in standard 2 (2nd and 3rd   grade) struggled to understand perimeter but today students finally built up their confidence. The looks on their faces when the concept finally clicked in their heads was so comforting. Every day I have a moment where my dreams of becoming a teacher are reaffirmed. The Red Bank crew arrived in the village and were warmly greeted as well. Students are always on time and ready for the school day. Students in standard 3 (4th grade) have been developing their writing skills and graphing skills. Students have shown me so much growth in the short time that I have been in their classrooms. These students continue to humble me every day, their Christian, family and community values are truly prevalent in all aspects of their lives.


Working with our teachers both at San Pablo and Red Bank have taught us valuable teaching and life lessons. Teachers are dedicated to their students and willing to help children throughout their learning process. All of our UofL group is dreading the last day goodbyes and the end of the school day tomorrow. We have truly loved every moment with these students and will never forget the lessons learned throughout our time. We have been gifted the opportunity to change students’ lives but they have changed ours just as much or more.


Belize it or not,


Katelyn and Kenzie
Alex at Red Bank with her Infant I students talking about measurement.

Kelsey at San Pablo helping Daisy make bracelets.

Kenzie at San Pablo with one of her students.

San Pablo

The top of Ben's Bluff at Cockscomb Basin

Cody on the hike

Alyssa, Kaitlyn, Ainsley, Katelyn, and Kenzie

Waterfall on the hike

Katelyn with some of her students at Red Bank.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Day 9: Robert's Grove

This morning we had the opportunity to attend a church service in the Red Bank Village. Those who attended found it to be a unique and cultural enriching experience. The entire service was delivered in Kitchi. Kitchi is the Mayan dialect predominantly spoken in this area. After the service, we regrouped, and headed for a relaxing day at Robert’s Grove in Placencia. Many heads of hair were braided on the car ride there in preparation for the sunny beach day ahead. When we arrived at Robert’s Grove, we were free to get lunch at the resort or surrounding restaurants. We spotted several iguanas hanging out around the resort, and some other students even saw manatees! We had the entire day to spend as we wished. Some people went kayaking, while others laid in hammocks on the dock. We could also swim in the ocean or in one of the many pools at the resort. Some people went for a run or a relaxing walk on the beach. We did have some rain, but luckily it blew over quickly.

When 6:30 approached, we all dressed up and enjoyed a nice dinner. We rented one hotel room to keep our stuff in, and we all did our hair and put on some nice beach dresses and polos. Only the brave souls could eat the fish, which was fried with the heads still on. It was delicious! The cake was also a big hit. Slightly sunburnt, we all enjoyed a nice meal together before heading back to Cardies. But it didn’t end there! We jammed out to some music on the way back. This trip has connected all of us as not only future teachers, but also as lifelong friends. Today was one that we will always remember. We all feel extremely blessed to have spent the day relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. Now it’s back to lesson planning and preparing for tomorrow! We are re-charged and ready to go back to San Pablo and Red Bank. Although we’ve have a great weekend, we are ready to get back to our kids!

Ellen and Maddison
Alex and Taylor at dinner


Allison and Kelsey


The dock at Robert's Grove

One of the four pools at Robert's Grove

Iguana in the bush

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Day 8: Silk Caye Marine Reserve

            Today because we were unable to see our kids, we embarked on our adventure to see the second largest Coral Reef in the world, located in the Caribbean Sea! Our day was spent on a small island with only each other as company. This gave us the perfect opportunity to learn more about each other and reflect on the past teaching days we have had so far.
            In order to get to the island, we rode in a water taxi and an excursion boat. Our dive instructors joined us to explain our three snorkeling experiences of the day. We saw an immense amount of diverse sea creatures, including angelfish, crabs, sea cucumbers, jellyfish, cowfish, and stingrays. On our last dive, we even had the privilege to swim with a shark!
            These unique snorkeling experiences created memories that will last us a lifetime. Afterward, we extended our adventure to Placencia. While there, we ate dinner and walked around to some of the locally owned shops, where handcrafted souvenirs and clothing were being sold. At the end of the evening, we treated ourselves to some delicious and authentic Belizean gelato. To end the night, Carel, the captain of our water taxi drove us safely back to Independence. Overall, everyone a wonderful and relaxing day.

Ricki and Maggie            
Leaving Independence on the hokey pokey to head to Splash Dive in Placencia. 

Some of the girls hanging out after eating our amazing lunch.

Caroline laying in a hammock with a hermit crab named Henry.

Scuba Steve (Cody) getting ready to go snorkeling. 

The island we stayed on for snorkeling.

Nicole and Allison enjoying some quesadillas from the Tipsy Tuna. 

A picture captured by Ellen of a hermit crab. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Day 7: Fun Friday

   Today, you could tell at breakfast that everyone was excited that it was Friday and we had made it through four days of teaching! At San Pablo, we had a sports day. Which involved a volleyball tournament for the second half of the day. Teams were a mixture of ages and skills and divided into four teams (Cobras, Spiders, Mahogany, Toucan). Alex and Ricki’s team, Mahogany, were the champions of the volleyball tournament. We all enjoyed a day spent playing with the kids. The students and teachers of San Pablo really showed their competitive side and team spirit when each team had to create a “fight song” and chant it before the games started. The day was full laughter and friendly competition; which makes for a GREAT DAY!

            Caroline and her class took a trip to the river. This river is where the local people wash their clothes, bathe, and play. Caroline jumped in with all her students and cooled off before lunch. Although it was a day full of competition and fun, all teachers had a successful lesson this morning. On our ride, back to Cardie’s, we reflected on our first four days on teaching. We all feel a deeper connection with our students and even their families. Katelyn, Red Bank, had the opportunity to eat with a student’s family in their home. The students and families of Red Bank and San Pablo have been very welcoming. The kids have taken our hearts and it feels like we have been here forever. We are seeing that there are more similarities than there are differences. We can’t wait for next week and know that it will be a difficult transition when we leave the schools on Tuesday.

Tomorrow, we will be snorkeling in a reef and spending the day at the beach. We are looking forward to a restful day after a busy week. However, we know we will be missing the kids’ smiles every minute!

Caroline and Kara (San Pablo)

San Pablo playing volleyball 

Carra with her friend Oscar

Standard III boys at Red Bank 

Allison in front of the Red Bank sign 

Ellen at San Pablo

Winning team from game night (Kelsey's team)

Caroline in the river with her kids at San Pablo

A little girl showing her beautiful artwork. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Day 6: Day 3 of teaching

            Today was a fantastic day at Red Bank with lots of writing! In the morning, our students were busy at work helping the classes complete their posters for education week. Many of our lessons were filled with writing opportunities for our students to improve their skills and execution.
PSA!!! Kelsey celebrated her 22nd birthday! It was filled with a lot of love, gifts, and cards from her students who adore ‘Miss B’.  – Happy Birthday, Kelsey!!
The afternoon was filled with tons of excitement as the teachers were all invited to a writing workshop put on by Dr. Finch. In this workshop, the teachers were welcomed to try new ways to implement writing in their students’ work and to create an environment that will encourage kids to become writers.
           While the teachers were working in their workshop, the rest of the school had a great time enjoying the beautiful sun during a well-deserved P.E period. 
Tomorrow, some of our students will be competing in a football (soccer) tournament in Maya Mopan. We wish our students the best of luck and hope to see a trophy back at Red Bank!

Nicole (Standard VI at Red Bank) 

           Today was another great day at San Pablo! Today I taught my Infant 2 babies (First grade) how to divide by three! I stayed up pretty late preparing for this lesson because I wanted everything to be perfect. I really thought about what my kids would enjoy doing, and how they learn best. We did a lot of guided practice and used counting bear manipulatives to divide into three equal groups (which they LOVED!). I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if the students would retain all the information I presented them with today, but I was immediately blown away with how quickly every student was able to understand division. These students were able to write, represent, and read aloud each division equation I presented them with FLAWLESSLY. At this moment, I was honestly almost brought to tears. I was fulfilled with joy knowing that my eager six, seven, and eight-year-olds were excelling in content that was completely new to them.

           For the remainder of my day at San Pablo I co-taught with my amazing teacher Mr. Chiac. We taught contractions as well as natural and man- made resources. We had the students walk around the school and the village to identify natural, and man- made resources. Although I absolutely love teaching my kiddos, one of my favorite parts of my day is during their breaks and lunch. During this time, I walk students to their homes and meet their families. I thoroughly enjoy conversing with students and their families as it allows me to learn about their culture and life in their village.

           I can’t believe that I only have three days left with my students! I hope I have touched their hearts, as they have touched mine in just three days! I am looking forward to all the memories we make within the next few days!

Alyssa (San Pablo Infant 2)

Cara and Caroline at San Pablo

Taylor taking some kids home from Red Bank 

Dr. Pentecost and Kelsey with kids from Red Bank 

Nicole with a Standard VI student from Red Bank 

Nicole, Maddy, and Kaitlyn with Red Bank students 

Ricki with students from San Pablo

Alyssa with Infant 2 students from San Pablo 

Ellen playing with bubbles at San Pablo