Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Encouragement can change a child's life

Today in one of our schools we were playing a game where the class was divided into two teams and competed in a multiplication game. All the children were so incredibly excited about the game! My teaching style is very peppy and upbeat because these kids sit in a hot classroom for 6-7 hours a day, they get bored. So I try to be as *borderline* obnoxious and happy as I can be! The children love it too! I think a positive attitude makes children love to learn. When I was little, my mother and father always made things fun! Everything had a prize and I was always laughing. Laughing can cure the soul from anything has always been my mentality. Today further proved this. As we were preparing to play our game, the children anxiously lined up to be first in line. Everyone lined up except one girl. Wrapped up in the chaos and excitement of the game, I have her a few minutes to approach the game on her own. After 10 minutes I realized she wouldn't be playing. Baffled, I approached her and asked why she wasn't playing. Her response was simple,  "I'm not smart enough to play." I instantly told her this was not true and told her how brilliant she is and how she should show it off. She insisted she would not be playing. I gave her some space, thinking maybe she needed some time. I could see the longing in her eyes and dissapointment in her face when I accepted her rejection. Heartbroken, I approached it again, she begrudgedly agreed. She was smiling though! Huge success I thought. However, two minutes later, I saw her sitting down again. I couldn't imagine why. I asked her, she said someone told her to sit down. Angered by her poor treatment, I tried again. I have the best pep talk I could think of, and again she got up and tried again. I let her go to the front of the line, and she FINALLY had her moment to shine. She knew every single multiplication answer. I was unbelievably proud. She was so so so happy and excited and the class was happy for her. I don't know who told her to sit down, and nor does it matter. She hugged me over and over and whispered "thank you." If I've done nothing else, that single interaction made these 3 weeks worth it. So many children lack confidence in themselves, building confidence can save their lives and soul. Happiness is so precious and I can't imagine seeing anyone genuinely unhappy at such a young age. A small act of kindness, can go so far for someone else. Always remember to recognize everyone. Everyone is fighting their own battles whether we realize it or not. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dangriga Week 2

Cave Tubing, Zip Lining and Mayan Ruins

This weekend we went to San Ignacio! It's on the border of Guatemala in Belize. Upon arrival, we realized our hotel was a resort! A view is in the pictures below! San Ignacio is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. So unbelievably breathtaking. The mountain range runs through the city making the land so diverse considering a river also flows through as well! Friday we went to dinner,  then to the local bars! We went to a karaoke bar, SO MUCH FUN! The whole study abroad crew, roughly 60 people, went! A girl from the business group, also my Roomie, Stephanie Schujilak, was the MC for the night. Her personality is so loud and happy that it made EVEYONE want to participate! The owner of the bar, Ross, was originally said there would be no karoke, but we convinced him by saying Steph would MC the whole night. I honestly don't think I've laughed so hard on the trip. The group we came with is full of the funniest and most caring individuals. After Karoke and a couple buckets of beer, we went to the local casino! So cool to see how other cultures gamble. I've never been a gambler, at all, but watching and eating a late dinner at the casino restaurant was a great time. The next day we went cave tuning and zip lining. I have a serious fear of heights. SERIOUS. Adding a slight hangover, really made me nervous. My friends made me so comfortable though! I loved getting to experience it with Lauren, Sarah and Stephanie. Definitely made me so comfortable and excited! By the end of the 8 ropes, I was loving it! Then we went off to cavetubing. The Mayans considered their caves "hell" on earth, and the gate way to the underworld. It was where many human sacrifices happened. However due to the flow of the river and thousands of years, no human remains have been discovered. So if anyone tells me to "go to hell" I'm just gonna say been there done that. The caves were unbelievably beautiful. I've never seen such untouched beauty. If you ever have an opportunity to go, GO! 
The next day we went to the Mayan Ruins, the tallest in Belize. In a thunderstorm. Slippery limestone, not fun to climb! But me and Lauren were grandmas together and climbed super slow and cautious. The view from the top makes me wonder how the heck the Mayans built it. It's HUGE. Fun fact, Mayans wanted to be sacrificed! How?? Most common way was by tearing their rib cage open and ripping out their heart while they are alive. Seriously wtf. I can't imagine that happening. I would run away and never ever come back. However it was an honor. Strange. Makes me appreciate never being sacrificed! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The View From The Top

Today I hiked to the highest peak in Belize which overlooked all of the souther region and had a beautiful water fall that led into a natural water sourced pool. Genuinely the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. We went with the Police Cadets. These children in this cadet program are those who have fallen through the cracks. Shop lifting, sexually active at 12, skipping school long term, petty crimes and the list goes on. It was so cool to get to hang out with these kids. They have a past but they also have a future and the best way to ensure they get attention is to physically be there giving it to them. These kids were such champs about the hike too. Most were in flip flops and jeans with long t shirts in 100 degree weather climbing a basically verticals rope hiking course for 2 hours. Meanwhile,  my out if shape self was STRUGGELING. I couldn't hardly make it up without being drenched in sweat. I was miserable. Seriously it was Devils Den X 100. I was by myself at one point and had a cliche moment but started thinking about Mulan and the "be a man song" lolz. But I felt like Jane however contrary to popular belief, to the vines hanging in the rainforest, you CANNOT swing from them. At all. It's all walking/sliding down super slick rocks. The water fall was so worth the struggle though. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever laid eyes on. There were three teirs and the higher you climbed, the more beautiful it became. No fish, just natural water streams that pooled into the perfect little hide away. The Mayans had lived in this rainforest and had several tempels built here in this region. However, due to poor funding, these ruins have well, become ruined. They looked like piles of rocks with debris on top from various vegetation. Broke my heart since Mayan culture is so emerssed in our own culture. However, I'm told this is a mute point and nothing can be done to preserve it now that it has laid to waste for so long. If you have not seen any Mayan ruins, GO! These people were not messing around when they built their cities. So beautifull.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Caye Kaulker

this weekend was amazing!

We had a weekend excursion to Caye Caulker. A little gem of the careivean coast of Belize! White beaches, Belizian culture, and cheap local rum. I honestly kinda thought our hotels would be not that nice, considering it a small island with 70+ students piling in for a weekend. We get there, and it's a resort. Me and my roomate had a beach front suite with a HUGE luxury, a comforter. In Dangriga we only have a single sheet since its so hot anyways. So basically, LOVE YOUR BEDS PEOPLE. Most of the world has no clue what a down pillow is. It's such a luxury.

But anyways, back to the point. This island was stunning. After checking in, we hit the hotel bar. Alcohol I figure will be expensive since its imported, however the Caye sells local rum, so it's super cheap! About  $2 a shot. I was pretty excited. Our bartender was probably annoyed we only got drinks w the cheap stuff. Oh well. Smirnoff here is about $12 a shot and the prices go up. Anything American is always really high end in prices.

The night life was so fun! We went to a reagee bar that at first only played that style of music, then the DJ decided to play Taylor Swift... Not so fun and authentic. We cleared out and went home kinda early because we had snorkeling at 9 am. After a solid 8 hours of sleep, we met up at the dock for our tour! I SWAM WITH A SHARK. Seriously almost freaked out but got it together  thank god. We had the chillest tour guide ever who made fun of my "barbie" self but hopefully it was in all good fun-probably not though.

After snorkeling we went to the split! In the 1960's a hurricane ripped through the island and actually created a channel of water that separated into two bodies of land. So typical optimistic belizians threw up a swim up bar and called it even with nature. I can't even describe how much fun this place was! I'm dragging my big sister back when she comes! Tons of Americans and Australians come here to vacation along with locals so the environment is very comfortable but different at the same time. So cool getting to talk with people who had traveled around the world. We met a man who had worked for the UN and traveled all around. He told us to follow our dreams and travel as much as possible. So now I'm seriously considering taking off in between undergraduate and MBA to see the world. But that's just me dreaming out loud I suppose.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The One With The Coconut Man

A man scaled a palm tree today with the sole purpose of cutting us down coconuts. Absolutely the CoOlEsT thing I have ever seen. Attached is the video.

I sorta thought he was just gonna lure us out and ask for money.. nope. He climbed a tree like a freaking iguana. (idk if iguanas do that, however that was HIS analogy, not mine). He then proceeded to crack the coconuts on a rock and demanded we pour our water out and allow him to pour his "purified" cocnut water into our water instead, sketchy yes, but we agreed. It was AMAZING. Best coconut water I have ever had. A little trust went a long way and I am so excited to see what Steven The Coconut Man does during the rest of our trip.

After our coconut water fix was fufilled, we went on our way to spread the word about our business classes, which by the way, is why we are here. Education in Belize ends at 8th grade. Yes, PLEASE imagine you being thrown into the world at 14-15. Personally, I was a little brat at that age and couldn't fathom High School, let alone the job market. The business classes we teach spread education regarding, what many of us consider "common sense", like basic accounting, marketing and customer service. However, at 15, did ANY of us know that stuff? nope. So our classes allow adults to learn basics so they can better their community and most importantly, themselves.

Personal growth leads into community growth.