Just like all of QHO’s peer educators on international initiatives, I am sure, the Belize group is beyond excited to have touched-down abroad after months of hard work and preparation with QHO. Our journey began in October when Gabe, Abby, Tyra, Holly, Kara and Katelyn were all hired to make-up six of the ten peer educators in the Belize group. We have spent the past academic year at Queen’s fundraising, bonding both within and outside QHO-related events, and prepping through countless hours of practice-teaching and education sessions.
After 6 days on initiative, Belize City continues to charm each of us with its culture, which is so delightfully different than what we are used to in North America. We are all too familiar with the local food already: burritos, beans and rice, salbutes, tostadas, ceviche, and the incredible fresh juices sold on nearly every street corner. The people in Belize City seem to be pleased with our presence, as nearly every other person we pass on the streets can be heard yelling “welcome to Belize!” (or as they say in Kriol, “Bileez”). Our walks to school are made all-the-more interesting by brief conversations with locals, as well as the sight of countless clothes, jewelry and other trinkets sold on the side of the streets.
On our first day of teaching, we were very fortunate to have Vivian (our initiative director) show us the way to our schools and introduce us to our school principles and teachers. Tyra and Holly have begun teaching at Gateway Youth Center as well as St. Luke’s Methodist Primary School. Each school consists of vastly different students; the former being small groups of rather timid teenage boys, the latter being large groups of children ranging from ages 9 to 12. Katelyn and Kara have begun teaching at the Young Women’s Christian Academy (YWCA) and Gwen Lizarraga Highschool. They are pleased to have already had the students at the YWCA express that they trust and admire them, and are eager for upcoming discussions with these girls. Lastly, Gabe and Abby have began their teaching experience on initiative at Sadie Vernon Technical High School. While the students here have proven to be more of a challenge, this only leaves more opportunity for growth in the coming weeks.
We were fortunate to have Wednesday off (Labour Day), granting us the chance to catch some rays on the beach in Old Belize. This past weekend, we enjoyed some of Belize’s natural beauty. We were all impressed with the native wildlife observed at the Belize Zoo, explored caves in Belmopan and had the chance to swim at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park.
Vivian, sadly, left Belize City today to mark the end of her week with us. It is now only the six of us in Belize City. Being more familiar with routes to school and good food, confident in our coming experiences with teaching, we are ready to tackle our second week on initiative!