I was so amped about studying abroad and exploring the different cultures for fourteen days. I knew this was going to be an educational experience that I could one day tell my children. It was a remarkable opportunity to travel with fifteen students and two instructors that I did not know. I thought this was going to be a challenge but it turned out to be an extraordinary adventure.
Intensive research was required throughout this journey. My research was to observe the different aspects of gang violence within the Belizean society and how the related risk-taking behaviors might impact the rate of injuries, victimization, physical and emotional health of adolescent girls and their famiies. I noticed a variety of different newspaper articles and billboards that pertained to the crucial gang activities, initiatio-related violence, and even sacrifices. Although, the spray painting of the fresh five pointed Star of David, one of the better know organized gang symbols, stood out amongst the rest. It also showed the prominence of gang violence and how it is taking a toll over Belizean society. I plan to gather a great deal of research and open the eyes of the world – I will start with just the AUM family and present my findings in the Fall! For now, you can see for your self by checking out the site of the one of Belize’s weekly papers at:
However, the trip to Belize was not just work and no play. My favorite day was when we attended the Cacao festival. It was filled with cultural dance, music, and mouth-watering foods. I got the opportunity to travel up and down the strip to purchase trinkets from the locals. Then when night approached that is when all the excitement arose. I got a chance to see the Plaenque Rojo Maya Dancers of Chiapas, Mexico and their performance stole my heart. Their costumes had me speechless and their dance had me wanting more. It was so intriguing that I sat in the pouring rain to see them perform. They were impeccable. Check out this video:
As our trip comes to end there are so many life lessons that I have learned. It comes to show that no one truly knows what the next individual goes through until they have taken a day in their shoes. Individuals do not know how grateful they are and should not complain about petty things. I saw individuals walking barefoot because they could not afford shoes. They were riding bicycles because they could not afford a car. Their society is stricken with poverty and they have homes that some may think is unbearable. However, throughout all of that the Belizean society still smiles and keeps a strong positive attitude. Even though they do not have much their attitude makes them rich. That pushes me further to make a difference within the world. I have truly enjoyed my stay in Belize and will definitely return.