Monday, March 18, 2013

Final thoughts of the Belize '13

This was my second trip to Belize and it met every expectation from the last. If any friends or family members of the trip are reading this you should be very proud of them. Everyone on the trip was extremely supportive of each program we had to offer for the people of Belize. The chemistry of the group as a whole was something I am unable to describe. Everyone worked well together and that made for an amazing experience. We came from different studies and points of views but everyone came together for a common goal.

My favorite moments were at the Georgetown school. I was fortunate enough to have the same classroom for each of my sessions so I got to know the children on a more personal level. The kids were very eager to open up and listen to our lessons. We planned to play games and bring our message through funny sketches. Most of the kids just wanted attention. I was more than willing to do so when I saw their faces light up when I talked them. I will never forget the time I spent in the classroom with the students. At the end of the classroom session they shared a part of their culture and history with the group through a special dance performance. They made masks and played the drum to specific cultural dances we were fortunate enough to witness.

They brought us out in front of the school to dance with them. I have to say my skills do not lie in dancing, but I tried it anyway! We all felt touched and appreciated as we left Georgetown.
I am finishing this blog on the plane ride home. I am sad to leave but excited to gain some great friends on this trip. I would definitely recommend that anyone able to take this trip it was more than worth my time. The energy and time I put into this trip I received back tenfold. This experience opened my mind to the world and humbled my way of thinking. Even though the people of Red Bank and Georgetown do not have the opportunities we have in the states the live happy lives.

Stay Awesome!
Matt Stephens

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Parting Paradise

Bittersweet emotions filled the air as we wrapped up our service trip to Belize.  On Thursday, at the completion of our last work day, the students of Georgetown performed a traditional Garifuna dance to bid us farewell.  The singing and dancing, and overwhelming gratitude, was more than enough to bring tears to our eyes.  It's amazing the impact a group of people can have on you in just a few short days.  I am already planning my annual budget to include funds to return to Belize with the ISLP trip next year!  I can honestly say I left a part of my heart in Belize.

After a tearful departure, and countless embraces, we returned to the Pelican Resort in Georgetown for one last night. After dinner, we had the pleasure of watching a traditional Garifuna dancing group perform.  We even had the chance to learn some sweet dance moves and join in! Again, the hospitality that has been offered to our group throughout the entire trip has been tremendous.

As we wait for the departure home from Atlanta, watching the Cards game at an airport sports bar, I am filled with a mixture of feelings.  Exhaustion and a bit of homesickness are producing anticipatory feelings for returning home.  But, at the same time, I long for just one more moment in Belize.  This ISLP trip was truly a life-changing experience.  I am now surrounded by amazing new friends who share my passion for serving others-- could it get any better?

I could write for days about my love for the people, culture, and scenery in Belize, but it's time to grab a drink and cheer on our CARDS boys! Farewell.

Gina Perronie
Senior Nursing Student



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Character Building in Belize

I have always had the utmost respect for my uncle for his role as a dentist. He is personable, reliable, and one of the smartest people I know. I had a suspicion that his profession and his personality were connected, and now I know for certain that it is. After spending some time in the dental clinics in Belize, I know what has shaped my uncle into the person he has become through his profession.
Today I had the pleasure of assisting some of my fellow students in the dental clinics in Georgetown. When I say "pleasure," I don't mean to imply that it was enjoyable. In fact, being the guy who held the suction and the flashlight while the experts did their work to remove infected teeth was disgusting, traumatic, and the closest I had been to crying in seven years. After witnessing the intracate and delicate practice that these students go through to work on each and every patient, my level of respect for those in dentistry has gone up even further, and I feel fortunate to have been working beside them. After going through a few hours in this clinic, I realize that it's not the blood and guts that shatters the mind, but the wincing facial expressions, the grunts of pain, and the occassional piercing scream of terrified children that only the strongest of people can work through to make them healthy.
It's not just the dentists. The justice administration, communication, and nursing programs have all down fantastic work down here. If there's anything I can take away from my time in Belize, it's that character building can only be achieved by surrounding yourself by a variety of people. I believe that it is important to surround yourself by people who are stronger than you. That way, you yourself will grow.

John Michael

DAY 2 IN SCHOOL : )

Today was another great day in the schools and dental clinic.  I started out in the classroom with 10-13 year olds. They were a little shy at first but quickly opened up.  We had the children draw pictures of their favorite memories from the past, what they love in the present, and how they see themselves in the future.  We then put their drawings into a binder for them to keep forever.  After we were finished with activities we then taught the kids how to do the CARDS cheer.  They LOVED it!  If I were to guess, I would say we did the cheer at least 15 times.
The second half of the day I was in a different classroom teaching children about bullying.  We went over things such as the different types of bullying and how to stop a bully.  We had the kids sign a pledge at the end of the lesson promising to never be a bully and to stop one in action.  I do not think our classroom would have gone as smoothly today if not for the help of one our justice administration students, Pete.  He was an awesome leader and really knew how to get the kids to open up.  Overall it was a good day and hopefully tomorrow will be even better : )

-J. Hackney

JA Day 1 and 2

The students have been amazing, very intelligent and very energetic. We have found that in the afternoon it is a little more difficult to keep the kids engaged,because their energy level is higher, but we have worked through it and the kids have been having fun. The bullying workshop has been a hit in the fact that the kids are very responsive and are willing to talk about all aspects of bullying. We have had the opportunity to even get the kids to talk about why bullies are bullies and that maybe it comes from them just wanting to have friends. The best part of the whole program is being able to really connect with the kids. Today I worked with a girl Alina who quickly became a friend of mine. She drew a picture of her and her family with me at the beach to show me how much she enjoyed hanging out with us. It has been fortunate that many from the group have been able to make some of these same connections with the kids. We truly feel we have made a difference in these children's lives and they have made a difference in ours.

Adrian Butts
Justice Administration

Day 2 In Dental Clinic

Today was emotional to say the least, but was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I had some apprehension before coming to Belzie about working in the dental clinic, but after today I am so happy I faced my fear and decided to help out.  I was able to change the lives of three little girls today and it was amazing.  I watched the dental students pull teeth and put in fillings and honestly found very it very interesting.  This is by far my most favorite day of the trip.

Georgetown- Cardinal cheer off!

The cardinal cheer has been known to excite crowds in Louisville all over. Little did we know, the cheer would create a bond between the Louisville Cardinals and the children of Belize. After spending our morning in Georgetown, we decided to teach the kids our beloved cheer. What we thought would be a nice way to end a fun communications lesson, turned into being a cheer-off between two classrooms in Georgetown. As soon as the kids mastered the cardinal cheer, there was nothing but loud chants of, "C-A-R-D-S, CARDS!" heard from village to village. The children showed such enthusiasm about being part of something that had to do with where we come from. Something as simple as a cheer brought about a bond that surely will not be forgotten on my end. My name is Emma Tierney, I am a freshman at the University of Louisville, and this ISLP trip has given me the opportunity to experience things that I never thought that I could. Given the opportunity to participate in Dentistry, Nursing, Justice Administration and Communications, there was a chance for everyone to participate in concentrations they otherwise may not have.