Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 9- Jessica and Morgan

Day 9- The Epic Jessica and Morgan

                Hello readers, I (Morgan) am back again accompanied by Jessica.  Today we had an amazing beach day!! We had breakfast at 8 am (later than our breakfasts at Maya Center Village).  Shortly after, our day began with a snorkeling trip which included 3 dives.  The first dive was a mangrove dive in which we saw many sea creatures including upside down jellyfish (which don’t look like jellyfish at all).  The other two dives were coral reef dives which allowed us to witness sea life and have an amazing time! We also went to the Smithsonian research center on Carrie Bow Cay.  There, we met a couple from the US that took care of the island and we had the opportunity to view experiments by researchers. 

After a long day of much fun, we returned to Tobacco Cay with crazy sunburns (I myself looked like a lobster).  We all had to apply Aloe Vera on our backs numerous amounts of time.  After, we had a chance to just lounge on the beach.  Jessica and I hung out with everyone on the dock and chilled out on hammocks.  Soon enough we had dinner which was then followed by our final group meeting. 

At the meeting, we all had to draw a name from a bucket and then state why we appreciated that person.  It was very beautiful!  Next, we had a World Leadership School candlelight ceremony.  The ceremony consisted of us passing a candle around in a circle as we shared our most memorable moment or experience from the trip.  It was sooooo emotional and at least three people were in tears after recalling the happy moments.  After the ceremony, it became evident that the experiences on this trip will impact us for the rest of our lives.  I am not sure whether or not we will all be able to return to Belize; however, Belize will always be in our hearts!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 8 Pictures

Day 8- Matthew and Alex

At around 8:30 we all walk into Ernesto’s with heavy heart, sad to see the village that we have called home for the past week go. We began by all sitting down and exchanging stories about our time during our walk in the footsteps activity, mostly about what we did and also about what was one of the highlights during our time with our homestay families. After this little heart to heart we loaded into our bus for our short two minute drive to the Mayan Women Center and more importantly, the Chocolate Factory. After waking up from our chocolate induced comas we loaded back on to the bus for the trip to Dangriga. Upon arriving to Dangriga we unloaded the bus and reloaded into two boats and spent the next hour travelling to Tobacco Caye.

Upon arriving at Tobacco Caye we had to small tour of our new paradise, were we learned about the mangroves that keep the small island from becoming any smaller, the sea grape tree that is said to be in the middle of the whole island and the barrier reef that the island is sitting right next too. Then after a short half an hour break we had the typical safety talk about snorkeling and about the coral ecosystem, then we were handed the snorkeling gear and sent to the water’s edge to have our first practice dive. After completing some simple task, such as clearing our mask and snorkels of water and assuming the swimming position we were given the ok to go out on the coral reef just offshore. We were amazed by the amount of color variety of coral as well as the abundance of all the different species of fish present.

After an hour of relaxation and food, we went out on a night snorkel were we saw all the more nocturnal fish as well as some octopi and huge moray eels. All this was truly amazing but watch out for the next post all about our day out snorkeling and having fun.

Monday, June 23, 2014

day 7 pictures

Day 6 Pictures

Day 7

Sunday was spent entirely with homestay families.  We did a “Walk in your shoes” activity for the students to be able to see what the life of a person in Mayan Center Village is like. We spent our day with Vicente and Juana Pau and their family. We started our morning with an amazing breakfast of johnny cakes with jam. We then headed out to the river to wash some clothes. We were taught by the daughters in our homestay the proper way to wash clothes in the river.  Typically the girls bathe in the river after finishing with the clothes, but the four of us headed home when we were finished.  Sunday was a special day for the community, it was 8th grade graduation.  Many of the families spent most of the day cleaning and cooking in preparation for dinners and parties.  We helped Juana make tortillas (130 to be exact) with Alva and another woman from the community.  Josephina, the youngest daughter of our family, took us around the village to deliver various letters and pictures to families from past Awty students.  We got a chance to visit with Hercita and her family, Lisa’s homestay from the previous two years.  We met her new baby and got to visit with Edison, her 4 year old son. 

After running errands, we came home and had a leisurely nap in a couple of hammocks that were in our kitchen.  It was amazing, and hard to get up, but we needed to shower and change for graduation.  We then attended the primary school graduation. Due to some technical difficulties, the graduation started an hour and a half late. Everyone in the community attended the event. The graduates sang some songs, there were multiple speakers, and there was a ritual torch passing that occurred to the tune of chariots of fire.

After the graduation, we were able to go back to the homestay and have dinner with a few other families to celebrate Jessica’s (a child in our homestay) graduation.  We had Fanta, chicken stew, and delicious corn tortillas.

We really enjoyed our day with the family, and appreciated the opportunity the see a full day in the life of a community member of the village.  The other students seemed to have enjoyed their day as well.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 6-Ahmed and Ben

  Saturday, 22nd of June
       In the morning, around 7:00 we all had breakfast with our respective families and then headed off to the worksite around 8:45. The night before we had been split up into 2 separate groups; some of us went to the worksite and others to Ernesto’s restaurant to do some WLS reflecting. Ben and I were in different groups: he went to the worksite and I went to reflect first. At Ernesto’s we were asked to do an activity called story boarding where we essentially had to craft our leadership stories and read them out to another person.  At around 10:30 the groups switched and I went to the Worksite. At the worksite we continued to staple mesh and metal covers on the window openings to prevent the ungodly insects from breaking and entering into the future cafeteria. Once we were done, at 12:00, we went back to Ernesto’s to have lunch and watch a bit of the France- Switzerland game. When lunch was over, Mrs. London asked us to draw a map of the portion of the Mayan Center Village that we were exposed to and we were asked to add land marks that were relevant to our stay. After that we went to the cacao farm and the local chocolate factory and tried our hand at chocolate making using an ancient Mayan technique consisting of grinding the raw cocoa on a grinding stone. The resulting product was placed in a refrigerator for future consumption. In any case, we saw the different processes and realized that the various steps were influenced by Mayan and Heritage. Eventually we went into a temperament room that had an A/C and we soon wanted nothing but to stay in the factory with the beautiful cold temperature we had been in absence of.  Anyway, in the temperament room we saw raw cocoa butter and pure dark chocolate. After that, the tour was over and we headed over to the shop and bought our own chocolate. In the end, we practiced a Texan line dance to be shown at the gathering later in the night.  Once this was over we went to go gather our families at around 6 o’clock and headed to Ernesto’s to dine there. Ernesto gave a speech and we were prompted to begin eating. At the end of our meals we shared dances and songs with the Mayan people which made for a fantastic evening. We then dispersed and headed off to our respective homes and went to sleep almost immediately (for the most part) because we were all so tired. Ernesto’s speech showed us the level of leadership that he possessed which made us reflect on the conversations we had with other leaders the night before.

                In a situation where one person helps another and another is helped it makes one of the parties more superior or greater than another whereas in a situation where people overcome differences to work together makes for a greater contributions from all parties resulting in the best possible product. Working together makes sure that, essentially, every person has an influence on the end product be it something figurative or physical. This ties into the work that we did at the school because it was the community itself who told us that a cafeteria would be necessary rather than us think of something to do without the community’s input.

We hope that you enjoy Ben and I’s blog and we look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.

Don't Worry! Our Pictures will be up soon!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 5 Pictures

Day 5- Jeanne and Margaret


Today, Friday June 20th we started by going to the school in the morning, there we helped the teachers in the classroom and also helped on the worksite. Both of us got to work in the pre-k section and watch them rehearse for their big graduation on Wednesday. Needless to say, it was adorable. We then ate at Ernesto’s and did some World Leadership School activities which may or may not have involved Ben getting on Ahmed’s back. In the afternoon we went tubing in the jaguar reserve on the South Stann Creek. Unfortunately, we were unable to bring cameras there but rest assured it was beautiful. We also saw two jaguar paws (one more than the group two years ago but who’s counting?) We ate dinner at our homestays and in the evening had a meeting with the leaders of the Maya Center community to learn about their leadership stories.

                Over the past couple of days, we have had the opportunity to sit down and talk with several leaders in this community. Yesterday, we spoke with several women at the cooperative. We were particularly struck by how progressive they were in terms of social issues. Another surprising factor was how fast they had made this progression: the 40 year old generation behaves much like our great grandmothers whereas our generation behaves more like our parents. This rapid change in social behavior is promising for future generations. We were impressed with the values they were instilling in both their sons and daughters in hopes of furthering social progression. However, we noticed that they had very traditional views. We were also surprised by the differences between their progressive thought process and their traditional actions. For example, although they believed strongly in fostering female independence, many women in the community are dependent upon their husbands  for financial support.   Indeed, the women in the cooperative acknowledged the fact that Mayan females are very protective of their children. For instance, they were really surprised our parents let us out of their view for such a long time and let us travel alone by plane (but of course we valiantly defended our parents).

                Tonight we were lucky enough to meet with 3 more leaders from the community: Ernesto, Aurora, and Liberato. Ernesto was the first official mayor of this village. He spoke to us about how even when most of the villagers were against him on an issue; he stayed firm on his viewpoint and helped the community reach a mutual decision. He explained that in order to really help the people, he had to be firm and selfless because, neither political leaders nor the wealthy supported him. For example he got married only at 35 (10 years later than the Belizean average). This is also because Ernesto fought for the people “which can be expensive” so the government and the upper class didn’t like him. Aurora is Ernesto’s wife and an herbal healer. She started making money when she was young by carving stones and selling them. By doing this, she and her sisters became like Belizean celebrities. She first got married at the age of 24 to Ernesto because she had been so focused on her work as a healer.  Although she was new to the village and felt very out of place, she braved the change and stuck by Ernesto. She helped him throughout his leadership career, offering advice when needed. She is also innovative since she is the one who had the idea to utilize tourism to further the village economically. What she lacks in charisma (she is in the shadow of her husband) she makes up for in integrity and love and like Ernesto and Liberato she is knowledgeable. Liberato is also very loving and as the school principal really made us understand the value of knowledge and education for life and leadership; as he was brought out of poverty by going to school. Because of this, he is very passionate about his work. They all showcased different aspects of leadership and were all inspiring.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pictures Day 4

Day 4 Blog by Kian and Jocelyn

We started the day at 8:30, with six students working on building the new cafeteria and six others working in the classrooms with children. At noon we ate lunch. After lunch we and several Mayan children learned to communicate silently by guiding each other through a maze. Later, we split up into several groups based on our leadership styles and built water filters (on a budget). Before returning home, we visited the Mayan Museum, where we learned about Mayan culture and how to make tortillas and coffee from scratch. We also saw an example of Mayan dancing. Afterwards, the girls split from the boys and visited the Women’s Center and discussed Mayan women’s role in the community while the boys played (and lost in) a game of soccer against the Mayan children.

        It was very interesting to learn about the Mayan Culture. However, Julio, our guide at the Museum said that the Mayans are losing their culture, not only through the osmosis of modern technology, but also because newer generations are ashamed of their culture, especially when they leave the community to pursue higher education. For example, the women told us that girls that go to Dangriga for high school are embarrassed to wear traditional clothes that they have been wearing all their lives.

A few things that we hope to remember and learn from the Mayan Culture would be the dances, their cooking methods, and how different their homes were. We really appreciate them for opening their homes for us and teaching us about their culture (For example we help them make tortillas, and talk about the differences in our culture). We hope they remember us as positive, empowering leaders because we really appreciate them teaching us about their culture and working with the students.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pictures day 3

Day 3: The Epic Ford Bruch and Morgan Stanley Blog

June 18, 2014

                Today, we had an adventurous day.  In the morning, we woke up from our dormitories in the Mayan Center Village aka “The Hub”.  The day began with a great start after our delicious breakfast including eggs, sausage, fruit, and succulent watermelon juice.  We then made our way to the school (our worksite).  As we neared the school, we could hear the loud voices of learning and the cheerful kids playing.  Once we arrived, we split up into two groups: a teaching and a building group.

 Ford and I (Morgan) both started off in the teaching group.  Ford experienced an end-of-term examination and was shocked to learn the casual style of teaching in the class.  I, along with Ben, spent time getting to know the students by means of reading short stories and poems.  I was surprised to learn that the kids had great reading skills as I did not have to assist them very much in comprehending and pronouncing words from books such as Dr. Seuss.  The worksite was completely different.  On the worksite, we succeeded in finishing the roof of the cafeteria/kitchen while learning how to work together as a group.  The work was, in fact, not very difficult as we found ourselves enjoying what we were doing.

                After much fun and work at the school, we had another amazing lunch full of filling food.  It was time to get to the part we were all really nervous about: we were about to meet our host families.  After an in-depth introduction about our homestays by Ernesto, the Mayan Center Village leader, we finally had the opportunity to meet our host families.  To our surprise the host families were very welcoming.  Soon after meeting our host families, we all dispersed to our different households.  Ford, Kian, David, and I took a rope bridge across a river to reach our houses.  As it turns out, we were all neighbors (I guess we got lucky).  We had a tour of our houses and quickly noticed the visible differences between our normal living conditions and those of the Mayan people.  Our showers were what some would consider “primitive”, and our homes did not have running water.  Nevertheless, Ford and I realized that if the Mayan people could live their so could we.

                With an optimistic attitude, we ate dinner at our homestays.  David and I had beans, fried chicken, and the most delicious tortillas I have ever come across (I need that recipe).  Ford and Kian, on the other hand, ate some enchanting eggs and beans.  After our dinners, the night was still young, and we still had “party” in us.

                Since Ford, Kian, David, and I were all neighbors we all had the chance to play football (soccer) with many of our Belizean neighbors.  After, we met up at one single house.  We were so surprised when we saw that we had access to a keyboard, microphone, guitar, and two giant speakers.  One of our Belizean neighbors and I had a reggae jam session for an hour and a half and we set the roof on fire (not literally, don’t worry mom).  We had the best time ever and we quickly forgot about the raging heat and puncturing mosquito bites.  We also played Uno and other card games with our families and we got to bond with our families.  It was so fun!!!!  Hopefully, the rest of the week goes by this well!  Overall, I believe that we immersed ourselves very well last night and we are beginning to become true Belizeans.  It’s unbelizable!!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 2 Blog -- Jessica and David

First we went to Xunantunich, which are some Mayan ruins in Belize. We met our tour guide, who then showed us around the ruins. He told us a little bit about the past of the Mayan people, their culture, their beliefs, etc. We then climbed the main Mayan Temple, who they called El Castillo, which then was 140ft tall. Ms. Bastedo almost fell, due to her back problems, but we all helped and by helped I mean we ALL carried her up AND down the temple (I have video to prove it).

After our treacherous labor, we ate a fabulous lunch, consisting of burgers and drinks. We then hopped back on the bus for a two hour drive, where we slept, played cards, read, and sang bus songs.

We arrived at the Mayan Center Village, where we were greeted by Ernesto, and given an orientation about the Núúk Chéil Cottage, where we are spending the night tonight. Once we dropped our bags off we decided to go play soccer. As we starting an intense match, several kids from the town came over and we them asked to join us. As they joined our game, it began to rain. So we had an intense rain soccer match showdown of the century.

  After our intense match, we ate a delicious dinner of rice and beans, potatoes, salad, and pineapple juice. After dinner was over we had spent several minutes talking to each other.

We ended the night talking about our goals for the trip. Our goals(Jessica’s and David’s) were to engage ourselves in a new culture, learn about the community and take on new challenges by learning new skills.

As we write this, we are falling asleep on the key board. I hope Germany wins the World Cup, but we all know it will happen. Peace!

Shout out to Mr. Bastedo.   

Pictures Day 2