With tears in our eyes, we finished our last week of teaching in Belize (we didn’t actually cry because we were too dehydrated). It was an awesome end to a long and rewarding project. Our Queen’s Health Outreach journey, started back in October, has been full of continuous lesson planning, fundraising, and teaching. This experience has been life changing, and we cannot thank Belize, the HFLE coordinators, all the places we’ve stayed, and the wonderful schools for making our time here so memorable.
This week, Kathleen and Erica had a great week at St. Luke Methodist Primary School. The girls got to focus on just standard 6, because it was review week, the week before final examinations, and all of the standards were busy studying. The standard 6s have three classes which were all equally outgoing and eager to participate. Kathleen and Erica found themselves constantly laughing and joking around with the students because they were such a lively bunch! See the picture of one of the classes at the end of the post! The girls got to see each class about four times, and they taught about puberty and sexual responsibility with a focus on preparing the students for situations they may come across in high school next year. During breaks, Kathleen and Erica really “got jiggy with it” as they were given dance lesson by their students. The popular dance style in Belize, called “punta,” requires crazy rhythm and hip mobility and is done to upbeat Caribbean music. Unfortunately, the girls “hips do lie” and embarrassed themselves in front of the students, but both groups got a good laugh about it. On their last day of project on Thursday after school, the girls organized another girls day for the standard 6 girls at St. Luke. Again, the day was a huge success. Everyone had a great time painting nails, making friendship bracelets, writing warm and fuzzies, and jamming to Taylor Swift. The girls and boys at the school were really inspiring individuals, and though they come from a different background than us, it is clear they are going to go on and do great things. Erica and Kathleen really felt as though they made strong bonds with all the students at St. Luke and thus, it was exceptionally hard to say goodbye on their last day of teaching in Belize. The hardest question we get on our last day at a school is, “when are you coming back?” And even though we know coming in that we are only here for short time, it’s still sad to answer that we aren’t coming back. It is very exciting that Emily and Erica will be back next year with a whole new batch of peer educators, but we often don’t return to a school two years in a row. After making such strong connections with students, it is hard to say goodbye, and it’s a harsh realization that we won’t see our students again. Kathleen and Erica had such a great final week and saying goodbye to the students of St. Luke was a moving experience.
Alex and Emily spent the week at Unity Presbyterian Primary School. They took a cab to an area closer to the outskirts of Belize City each morning this week and were welcome by a friendly staff and students. They were thrilled to learn that the kids remembered the QHO Peer Educators who taught them similar lessons last year. Kayla and Trevor did an awesome job last year as the kids were super smart and the review that Alex and Emily did this year was still really beneficial. They felt like they really advanced the students knowledge of our health topics and answered tons of challenging questions. Throughout the week we taught puberty, sexual responsibility, substance abuse and goal making in standards 4, 5 and 6. We also made it into the standard 1, 2 and 3 classrooms to teach our bullying/self-esteem lesson. The kids get a kick out of it when Emily teases Alex for looking like a girl because of his long hair and its a great example of how bullying is defined by the impact of someone’s words versus the intention of a joke. The weather has been hot and humid this week and Emily’s dehydrated body shed a single tear as we wrapped up our last lesson in the standard four class today. A highlight was definitely the welcoming greetings chanted by the entire class as we entered in the morning and also all the thank-you cards we received as we left today. All the kids were very warm and climbing all over us as we walked the school yard. After school today, Emily ran a girl’s afternoon filled with making snowflakes, writing warm and fuzzy notes for each other, making string bracelets and painting fingernails. Alex spent the hour playing soccer with the boys. It couldn’t have been a better school and a better group of kids to finish off our time in Belize!
On Thursday afternoon, we met up with the secondary project, and it was very exciting to see them after four weeks apart! After some late night preparations for our final meeting at the Ministry of Education in Belize City, we had our last sleep at the Smokin’ Baläm. In the morning, we packed up our things, picked up some pastries, and went to Quality and Development Services for our meeting with the HFLE coordinators. In attendance at the meeting was Nelson Longsworth, the director of QADS, Yvonne Codd, the Program Coordinator of HFLE, Carolyn Codd, the National HFLE Coordinator, Eleanor Murillo, the Belize District HFLE Coordinator, Joan Palma, the Toledo District HFLE Coordinator, and Maria Trujillo, the Corozal District HFLE Coordinator. Primary and secondary summarized their work in each district, talked about suggestions for next year, and selected our districts for the 2014 project, even setting tentative dates for next May and June. Primary is planning on working in Toledo, Stann Creek, Corozal, and Belize City, and secondary is planning on Stann Creek, Belize City, and Orange Walk. We were also fed a fabulous lunch by Yvonne and the people at QADS. It was a fantastic end to a great experience. We are sad for our project to be over, but we are so excited for the new Peer Educators next year. Under Emily and Erica’s guidance, Belize 2014 will be UNBELIZEABLE!
For the last time, Primary out.
Kathleen, Erica, Alex, and Emily