Since our previous blog, we have moved from Belize City to the capital city of Belmopan. After the hustle and bustle of Belize City, we have enjoyed settling into the more calm, residential atmosphere of Belmopan, and have loved the opportunity to explore a new part of Belize. Belmopan, often referred to as the “Garden City”, is filled with parks, blossoming trees and walking/biking paths. This has ensured that our walks to school are never dull and there is always some sort of natural beauty to admire. The group is also excited to have a small house to themselves, which has allowed for having group meals cooked at home (Kraft dinner was a group favourite). We even had to get resourceful one night and boil our own water as it was too late to head to the store.
Abby and Gabe enjoyed their first week teaching at El Shaddai Primary School as well as the Belmopan YWCA. After working with more difficult classrooms in Belize City, they are happy to have students here very eager to learn and participate in lesson activities. They started off the week teaching lessons on self-esteem and peer influence, before diving into more serious lessons on substance abuse. They also did a special lesson on bullying with the standard 2 class as the school had identified that this was an issue in that class. They look forward to continuing to teach important lessons and continuing to get to know the students in the next couple weeks.
Katelyn and Kara enjoyed their transition into teaching in primary schools this week. They were welcomed into Our Lady of Fatima with an assembly that included singing and skits which students have been preparing to perform at the Belmopan Arts Competition. The students soon stole their hearts away with their eagerness to learn and overwhelming participation in class. They have been getting in daily workouts playing football, tag and, the new favourite, Octopus, during the lunch break. Within the classroom, Katelyn and Kara have taught peer influence, healthy relationships and abuse, bullying, role models and goal setting. In return, the students have been excited to teach them a few words of Spanish at the end of each class. On Thursday, they were fortunate enough to be invited on the school trip to the Mayan ruins, Lamanai, in Orange Walk, Belize. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Belize while also bonding with their students. They are looking forward to their next two weeks teaching and engaging with the students.
Tyra and Holly have begun to teach at the Belmopan Comprehensive School. This week they have taught 2nd and 3rd Form (10th and 11th grade) classes, discussing conflict, discrimination and disabilities. They have enjoyed the dynamic of teaching students they are more close in age with as they have found the students feel more comfortable talking to them and participating in class. The discussions with the students have been productive yet easy going and the enjoyment of our presence is definitely mutual. They have also had many opportunities to get to know students outside the classroom. During breaks, students have stopped to chat with them about school, boy-problems, etc. and have welcomed them to play basketball and soccer with them at lunch. Tyra and Holly have very much enjoyed getting to know the students and see their talent firsthand, whether that be at sports games during lunch, the boy that sang to them in class, or watching the valedictorian ceremony during assembly. They are so excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks.
The six of us also had the opportunity to teach a workshop with students from an Active Youth group where we discussed values and attitudes, healthy relationships and abuse, and sexual health. We enjoyed the chance to work with a small group (about 12 students) making it easier to have one-on-one discussions to ensure everyone had a thorough understanding of the topics.
On our weekend off, the group headed back to Belize City to participate in the annual cancer walk, an event that the QHO Belize initiative has been attending for several years. Joining the other group of Belize PE’s who are currently in Belize City, we were up early Saturday morning to catch a 3:30am bus to the start of the walk! Though quite tired from the early wake-up, we made good time, completing the 13km walk in about 2.5 hours. Along the way, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and the seeing impressive turnout of enthusiastic people for the event. Sunday was another busy day with a trip to the Mayan ruins, Xunantunich, located outside of San Ignacio. At the ruins we were excited to learn more about the Mayan history in Belize and also loved climbing to the top of the impressive ruins to appreciate incredible views of the surrounding countryside.
We can’t believe that our time in Belize is more than halfway done, but continue to be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to explore this beautiful country, work closely with the kind and welcoming Belizeans we have met, and learn from students as we educate them on important health topics.