Sunday, March 23, 2014

We've landed

We'll see you all soon!

On our way

In Charlotte

We just landed in Charlotte.

Students on their way home!

Hi family and friends of BB&N Belize program! The students are en route home after a very successful program in Belize. The flights are currently on time. Please find the flight information below. Don't hesitate to call the office with any questions 303-679-3412. Thank you for your support of the program! 

Sunday March 23rd  US Airway #842 BZE  - CLT 100PM – 616PM

Sunday, March 23rd US Airway #1783 CLT – BOS 815PM – 1021PM

Erin Lasky 
Director of Operations

Sunday pic

Brendan displays his enthusiasm for being twinsies with Ms. Schultheis.

Sunday's Post

Hello Families!
It is another beautiful day in Belize.  The birds are chirping (or perhaps squawking is more apt) and we are packing and getting ready for breakfast.  After breakfast we'll do a short activity and then leave for the Belize airport at 10 am.  If time, we'll post an update from Charlotte.  Either way we'll see you all soon.  We hope you'll recognize us, given all of the changes we've gone through.  Just look for the loud, slightly bug-bitten, and somewhat smelly group-- that'll be us.

Saturday's Official Post

Day 8 Saturday
We said our sad goodbyes to Maya Center before hitting the road Friday morning.  We drove West to Xunantunich on the Guatemala border.  We dropped Ross and Juan off along the way and had to add two more goodbyes to the ever growing list if goodbyes.  Before seeing the ruins we stopped for a special restaurant lunch in San Ignacio.  Some of us stuck with a more traditional rice and beans lunch, while others were more adventurous and ordered hamburgers and french fries.  After a superb lunch and a quick game of coconut ball we headed up to Xunantunich. 

As we hiked up to the top, Peter shared with us a lot of information about the ancient Mayan culture and even showed us a piece of pottery lying on a pile of what had looked like rocks.  We climbed to the top of the tallest building, which pushed many of us to the edges of our "stretch zones".  The view at the top was well worth it as we could see to Guatemala and it felt as if we could see all of Belize.  After coming back down, we reflected in the presence of these massive stone structures on what our own legacies for future generations would be. Afterwards we made our way back to the van and drove back east to the Tropical Education Center (TEC). Here we had our final group activities including a candle circle in which we all shared our favorite memories that we'd take home with us.  While we are sad to leave this group and Belize, I think we are all looking forward to seeing our families.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday pics from Xunantinich

Friday's Official Blog

Day 7 Friday Rachel & Eliza
Today we got to the worksite around eight, and started up again on the cement. The men who came to help us from Farm 8 used the cement mixer, and we appreciate the help, as it went a lot faster. Some of us got to help teach in the classrooms again, and some got to teach little kids how to read. During their recess we played with them, and everyone was sad at the end to say goodbye to the friends we have made during the past three days. After lunch we met up again with our affinity groups from St. Jude's, and interviewed local leaders about environment, equality, health and education. Then, we had free time, where we made up a dance to perform at the community celebration that would take place later that evening. Afterwards, was our exciting chocolate tour, where we got to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans on a rock.We ate the fresh milk chocolate, and its was delicious! We later went shopping at the women's center, buying gifts for our families back in Boston. All of the beautiful arts and crafts were handmade by the women of the community. Some of our gifts were made by the Mayan women from our home stay families, so it was nice to be able to buy something knowing exactly who made it and where our money was going. We then returned to our lodge, and our home stay families started arriving for our community celebration. Each family brought us delicious homemade meals, and that last meal was a great way to finish off our nightly home stay dinners. After eating, we watched performances, ranging from traditional Mayan dances to our very own dance performance to Roar. We had a blast, and it was sad to say goodnight to our home stay families, knowing this would be one of the last times we'd see them. After everyone left, we did our nightly reflection and headed off to bed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday morning break time

Pics from Friday Morning Worksite

More pics from Thursday

Photos from Thursday

Thursday's Official Post

Day 6 Thursday Aidan and Julia

This morning was similar to anyone before. Unfortunately Aidan forgot to set the alarm on his clock and the boy's couldn't bird watch with Peter. After a quick breakfast we met for the morning AMP. Ross presented us with the terrible news that Fermenta, the sister of one of the homestay hosts passed away of ovarian cancer last night. Sadly one of her children, Fernando, is one of the boys who works with us. Her kids will now be living with her sister. We gathered ourselves and prepared for our work at the school. Fortunate for us some of the parents had already polished up our previous work and it was ready for cement. We got right to work. Some of us were carrying water, digging sand, and left Aidan to raise the rebars. Once that work was done we began to mix the cement. This was done by pouring water, sand and cement mix into the cement mixer. Some shoveled the sand, some poured the sand and a few rolled the wheelbarrows of cement to where the needed to go. A few lucky kids got to take a break and helped out in the classrooms. Some kids just watched, and some kids got to participate. Surprisingly, Julia got a math lesson, which ended up being fun because of the students, who were part of the group that joins us each afternoon. During the kids lunch break some of the boys went over to join a game of volleyball while Armando flew a kite in front of some sparkling eyes. Many of the kids were hopping on our backs for piggyback rides, because we had our gigantic inflatable beach ball with us, and they liked rolling around on it together. After their break, we finished most of the cementing, and packed up to return to Nu'uk Cheil. We had a big lunch, with pizza, noodles, and lots of fruit.  Then, our friends from St. Jude's came, and we played the 'get across the hot water game', then talked about the topics that our affinity groups focused on. As a special treat, they did a Mayan dance for us right before they left. We had some free time to play a game of taps and for the girls to write a humorous (but amazing and true) song about boys. We then headed off to the Mayan Museum and got a tour from Julio.
We got to make corn tortillas and try smoked peppers. We then went to have a game of soccer with the locals but nobody was there. Instead, we played a small game ourselves, and hung on the swings. Then, we had some more delicious food from our homestay families, and had our season finale of Belizean Idol. The team Jimin and the Potatoes (Tortillas) won, declaring that we will be performing Roar for the Mayan locals tomorrow. Then, we did ANCHOR, and went to our rooms for lights out at 9:45. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wednesday's Official Blog

Day 5 Wednesday Brendan & Allegra

Today about half of our group woke up extra early for an optional bird watch. The bird watch was at 6 a.m., which is when most birds are already up and about. After that we had a 7 a.m. breakfast and then it was time for the first day at the worksite. We got to the worksite at about 8:20 a.m. and so we got to work with the kids watching us as they started to pile in for school. We lined up as a group behind the kids as they were in an assembly and we quickly introduced ourselves. We got back to work on the new dining hall under the scorching sun and some of us also organized the library until 10:30 a.m. when the kids got a break. During their break a few kids stayed back to finish the trenches that we had been digging (these trenches will be filled with cement) while the rest of us played on the swings, played jump rope, soccer and volleyball with the students. After the break we worked for about ten more minutes and left our tools organized for tomorrow. After working most kids decided to race for the 5 blocks back to the lodge. We quickly got out of our sweat filled clothes and got ready for lunch and an ice cream social with the group of children that we met on Tuesday. While munching in separate gender groups, we talked about gender roles in our respective communities. After they returned to school, we hurried to leave for river tubing. After fitting 15 people in a bus made for less, we were all ready to get in the river. We had a lot of fun on the way down the river and halfway through we stopped to do a mock "rescue" of Ross and Ms. Schultheis. We were pressed for time to get to our homestay families, but everybody had a lot of fun. We enjoyed dinner with our homestay families, meeting everyone and having great meals. We returned to the lodge and did a quick evening activity about night vision. Then, Ms. Schultheis taught us how to find spiders using the reflections of their eyes. Everyone was tired, so we went to our rooms early to take a shower, read, or chat until lights-out at 9. 
Happy Birthday to Julia's Dad!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pics from work site on Wednesday


We had a really awesome first day on our worksite and at our homestay dinners. The official post from Brendan and Allegra will be coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday's Official Blog

Day 4 Tuesday Maya Center Elisa & Armando

Today we woke up really early in order to get to the boat so that we could leave for Dangriga. The boat ride was bumpy and choppy, especially at first, because of the windy conditions, but it was still a lot of fun. Our departure was met with sad goodbyes and a touching journal tribute to Sean and Jenn, our snorkel instructors. We headed toward Dangriga at a quick pace, splitting into two boats. When we arrived, we loaded our items into the bus that would take us to our home for the next few days, Maya Centre. We put our baggage away into the rooms we would sleep in for the next few days. Lunch was a great combination of empanadas, soup, rice, crackers and mini bananas. They were deliciously exquisite. Then we got our first meeting time with the Belizean students. Our first activities were ice breakers that helped us get to know each other and we began to form bonds. Then we separated into our affinity groups, which are equality, education, the environment, and health and human services. In those groups we did the marshmallow challenge, a fun activity where we had to stack raw spaghetti in order to place the marshmallow on the highest free-standing structure made of spaghetti, string and tape. Winners were determined, but in the words of Kelley Schultheis, "Everybody is a winner." We said goodbye and then went to go meet our homestay dinner families. Each group had a different experience but among them were, trying sugar cane, having conversations, playing soccer, and playing with the kids. We returned to the guest house for our relaxing free time. And our day isn't even over yet.

Pictures by Elisa

Pictures of Tobacco Caye by Armando

Pictures from Monday

Monday's Official Blog

Day 3 Monday Tobacco Caye Jimin & Happy

     Happy St. Patrick's day! Our long day started with a meeting outside our cabin at 7:30. By this time we were up and active, most of us had gotten up at 6:30. In the meeting we did an activity that involved us using our comfort and stretch zones. Ross, one of our WLS leaders, called out different activities and we were supposed to go in a circle that represented a comfort zone or a circle that represented a stretch zone. After that Ms. Schultheis took a closed eye survey on how we were doing with excrement. After releasing our bowels (in the bathroom), we got onto a boat, taking us to patches of reef in the open sea. With underwater slates, we played bingo, by recording the different corals and fish we saw. We snorkeled at the mangroves, and the back side of Tobacco Caye, we learned at Carrie Bowe Caye (an island with a Smithsonian research station) and observed the Magnificent Frigate Birds at Man o' War Caye. It was a once in a lifetime experience and we had a great time even though we were tired.  At Carrie Bowe Caye, we learned about the Smithsonian Institute and the scientist researching at the island. After a quick picnic lunch at a small island, we headed to Man O' War Caye. There, we saw hundreds of Frigate Birds, some soaring and others perched. After that we spotted a couple of manatees in the mangroves, snorkeled at the mangroves and at the back of Tabacco Caye. We went back to Tabacco Caye and had some free time on the island. After free time we had dinner, consisting of meatballs, rice and beans and a potato salad. At dinner, we learned some disappointing news, we could not go on a night snorkel due to high winds. However, a night walk on the beach was offered, and we also did a music video competition, called Belizean idol. All three groups ended up in a tie with 8 points each. On the nightwalk, we went looking for crocodiles, lobsters, squids, and fish. After a half hour walk, we did ANCHOR. After the long day we got to bed at 9:30. It was a long, fun day, and everybody was tired.     

Monday, March 17, 2014

More pics from Sunday

Sunday's Official Blog

Day 2 Sunday Eliza & Rachel
We had a nice long drive through some gorgeous Belizean mountains on our way to Dangriga. We stopped at a gas station on the way to get water and use the restrooms, and we met Yolanda, a woman originally from Honduras. Those who take Spanish practiced their skills, and we learned about her story and current life. Eventually, we made it to Dangriga, the biggest town we'd encountered despite its small size. We got to see the colorful houses the people of Dangriga live in, and they waved to us as we drove by. Eventually, we got on to two tiny boats that took us to Tobacco Caye, and the 45 minute ride was a major highlight. Covered in salt water, we arrived at the football field sized island called Tobacco Caye. When standing in the middle, we could see both sides of the beautiful island that was dotted with the colorful huts we'd be staying in. We went to our afternoon snorkeling instruction, and learned all the basics of safe snorkeling. Our instructors, Sean and Jen, taught us about the many beautiful yet dangerous creatures that we might encounter. Luckily, none of us got hurt by or hurt any living thing. We also learned about the delicate ecosystem that made up the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world. After our instruction, we hopped right into the glowing blue waters that surrounded Tobacco Caye. We practiced our skills and even ran into a giant stingray who waited patiently for us to pass by. Once we had our snorkeling skills mastered, we went on a 30 minute trip. We saw vibrant fish and coral and had an awesome time. After we arrived back on Tobacco Caye, we had some free time. During that time, we collected ginormous fallen coconuts. We tried to crack the main shells open, and eventually, a friendly resident of the island offered to do it for us. After it was cracked open, Aidan cracked open the smaller shell, and we had fresh coconut and coconut milk during dinner. We had a brief lesson about the creatures we might see in the water, preparing for our snorkeling adventure the next day. After a long, exhausting day, we went straight to bed, falling asleep around 9.

Group Photo

Photos from Tobacco Caye Sunday

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hello BB&N Community:
We are on Tobacco Caye. We had a great snorkel, ate some delicious coconut and we saw the sunset on one side of the island and the moon rise on the other! It was a magical evening and we saw a huge variety of parrot fish, damsel fish, sting ray, sea fans, angel fish, urchins, algae, so much ocean life. We ended the day with a presentation from the ever-so dynamic Jen and Sean, the Tobacco Caye Marine Station managers. More to come tomorrow from the students!
Ross, Simone, Katherine, Kelley, and Peter

Pictures from Night Zoo

March 15-- Travel Day & Night Zoo

Day 1 Julia & Aidan 
We got on the plane at around six o'clock in the morning. Some of us were half asleep and the rest of us were asleep. We stopped at the Charlotte, NC airport; 32 degrees closer to Belize! After about six hours of traveling, we finally made it to our destination. When we got off the plane we were hit with the hot humid air from the runway. We took a bus to the Tropical Exploration Center. The first beast we encountered was a two inch long leaf bug, which turned out to be dead. After we got settled we went off to lunch. We had chicken, rice and beans, and it was the greatest simple thing I have ever eaten. Aidan ate a little too much and put hot sauce on everything.  Then, we had a quick meeting, and finally a break. The boys played a game of catch, and the girls read. Coincidentally, the girls found Bobby written in their cabin. During the game of catch Armando kept the boys laughing until it became a little dangerous. Then we had dinner, and went to take our night tour  of the Belize Zoo. After a brief pep talk from the guide we got on our way. The first animal we saw was the country's animal, the tapir. We got a chance to feed its enormous mouth. We got to see some little and big pig-like creatures, and some of the beautiful big cats. One black jaguar we saw was brought back from near death, while our new jaguar friend Lucky Boy, put on a nice climbing show for us. We were taken back to Jurassic Park with a 12 foot long crocodile and some roaring howler monkeys whose calls were used in the movie. Soon after, we saw some small cats, and owls, ending our night tour of the zoo. When we got back, we were so tired we went straight to sleep, with the birds and insects chirping a lullaby, well it was a lullaby for Aidan, but I don't know about the rest of us. Today we are going to Dangriga and then Tobacco Caye for a lesson in snorkeling.
-Julia and Aidan
PS: No scorpions or tarantulas so far :(

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hello BB&N Community:
We have arrived at the Tropical Education Center and the students are all having lunch. We'll be meeting as a group this afternoon before heading to a night tour of the Belize Zoo, an animal rescue sanctuary. The adventure has begun!
Ross Wehner, World Leadership School

In Charlotte

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pre-trip affinity groups

Over the last few weeks the Belize gang has been meeting during elective time to work on our fundraising and to start thinking about our trip to Belize.  Through our discussions we divided ourselves into three affinity groups based on shared interests.  In those groups, students came up with questions that they were interested in around their topic and then researched those questions and shared their answers with their affinity group.  Below, is some selected questions from each group.

Group 1: Equality Group
Members: Rachel, Elisa, Eliza, & Jimin

What are the roles of women in Belize?
The women of Maya Center, for the past few decades, have gotten together and created a way to support themselves. They’ve been working together to sell homemade arts and crafts. By doing so, they maintain their rich history, spread aspects of their culture to tourists, and support their lifestyles with the money they make. The women, varying in age from teens to seniors, wear traditional clothing and jewelry to show the pride they have in their past and their work. This project has received a lot of support from other businesses in the past, yet the women still need help procuring the necessary resources. For example, they need help getting sewing machines, fabric, and other materials.

What are the different jobs for men and women in Belize?
In the country one of the most popular industries is real estate. You would have to be licensed and certified to work in Belize. The economy of Belize greatly depends on tourism. That includes working in a service industry, guiding tourists, working in a restaurant or other similar service jobs. Other popular jobs would be merchandise, agriculture, construction, and exporting of oil and petroleum.

Group 2: Health and Human Services

Members: Brendan, Happy & Allegra

What are the disaster preparedness methods of Belize?
The Belize government has teamed up with the Pan American Health Organization and several European organizations and The Red Cross. These people visit Belize before, during and after natural disasters, mainly hurricanes. The PAHO trains the health care providers of Belize with Incident Command System concepts on how to defend against disasters and how to care for injured people. Clinics and shelters are set up all over the country to help the people of Belize. The Belize government has spent millions of dollars to help make health care services more available for the women and children of Belize, to set up hurricane shelters and clinics and to protect their people from dengue and malaria.

What is the health care access & what is being done to increase it?
Belize has about 60 hospitals for its population of 300,000. Most of these are in Belmopan and Belize city. This could be problematic in the event of a natural disaster. While Belize was hit very hard by Hurricane Mitch, the devastation that it caused sparked the government into spending large amounts of money to increase hurricane resistance. It built large amounts of hurricane shelters and is working with the United Nations Development Programme to lower the toll that hurricanes take on the country. The Red Cross is also currently working in Belize to train local people in health care. These newly-trained workers will benefit about 55,200 Belizeans. The Belize National Emergency Management Organization coordinates disaster response and prevention in Belize.

Group 3: Education
Members: Bobby, Aidan, & Armando

How does our education system compare to that in Belize?
Here in certain parts of the U.S., we use technology to do homework and other school materials. We use iPads for textbooks, and our computers for assignments, but in Belize they may not have access to all of the same technology. For example, over 87% of Americans use or have access to the internet, and only 25% people in Belize have access to the internet. Not only could this affect the online assignments that we have in this school today. Not all students in Belize are able to go home and just look up a word on google.