Monday, August 10, 2015

Sushi and Golf Cart Shenanigans

It's almost time to go home and we're just getting the lay of the land.  I will miss our daily walk to "Melt" for breakfast and seeing Janie, the 19 year old cat that greets us.  The male and female iguana that reside on the upper deck of the restaurant will probably wonder what happened to us... or not.  They seem self-absorbed.  Janie will definitely notice.

I also feel like our life revolves around food.  Where will we eat lunch? Dinner? Did anyone find a new spot we need to visit?  We've waited all week to eat sushi at the Bluewater Grill and it was worth the wait.  There couldn't be a prettier spot to sit and soak up the salt air, enjoying our last few days on the island.  We also have come to know that it will take a while to get served and for the waitress to bring our checks, but that's okay.  I think we've slowed down a bit during this adventure and come to realize that it's not important how fast we move, but what we can learn along the way.

While we're speaking of fun times on the island, I must mention the golf cart....

In a 24 hour period I managed to be involved in a small front-end collision, lose my headlight (but the cart behind us picked it up), get stopped at a license check, be asked to move since I was parked in a "no parking zone" (it always helps to read), and scare Daniel to death.. All in a day's work!

Until next time....

Thursday, August 6, 2015

This morning we rode the golf cart to San Pedro High School to provide professional development for a group of teachers.  This setting was a bit different than the last…. concrete floor, open windows, desks with attached chairs, and a chalkboard.  It made me think about my elementary school as a child, a little old, a little worn, but well loved.  One thing remained the same from our last PD experience, the teachers were really friendly and receptive to new information.  Each time we work with people in this country, it’s obvious they enjoy learning new things, love their country, and are appreciative of us. 

Today, we did one thing differently than in Belize City, we had the teachers make name tags to hang on their desks.  This served as a point of reference for us and enabled us to call the teachers by name, making the PD personal.  I worked with Karen presenting engaging strategies in the classroom to involve students and I believe the majority of what we shared today was new information for them.  It can be difficult if the presentation material is redundant.  This group seemed engaged and wrote down many of the ideas we gave them.  This has been a great opportunity for me as an educator and is something I’d love to do again.  It gave me the opportunity to "teach" again.

On the ride home we were able to swing by the tortilla drive thru and grab a stack of corn tortillas for $2 Bz.  They were still warm.  We need one of those in Swansboro.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Today was awesome!  A group of leaders left for Belize City on the water taxi at 6:30 am.  It took about an hour and a half to get there and along the way, Karen and I had a conversation with Herman (pseudonym), one of the boat mates.  A few minutes into the conversation it was obvious he is an advocate for education, believes the Belizeans should stay abreast of politics in the country, and strong supporter of government transparency.  Without revealing too much, he was unhappy with the way the finances of the country are being handled and wants them to change. He also shared that he watches the news faithfully and saw the latest media frenzy on the removal of the confederate flag in South Carolina.  According to him, that news was more of a distraction from the real issues and a way the media and government keeps people ignorant of the real challenges the country faces.  I found it interesting that he was aware of current events happening in other areas of the world, but then again, Americans watch news concerning other countries as well.  Hearing Belizeans refer to these issues really makes me realize how small our world really is.....

Working with teachers at the Technology Institute was such a rewarding experience.  No matter where we go, teachers are teachers.  They enjoy learning new things and this group fully engaged with us.  Our focus, engaging students, was well received.  They had all become good friends by the end of the day and were joking with each other mercilessly.  We also had the one teacher who took care of everyone, Michelle.  She was the "mother hen" of the group:)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Yesterday I met Glen, a native Belizean born on the mainland who moved to San Pedro sixteen years ago.  He works as a bartender at Pedro's Inn.  It seems Belizeans are hard workers; most work six days a week. I can't help but ask questions about schooling, family, and living situations when I meet new people. Part of me wonders how similar we are and I often find that there are quite a few things we have in common.

In contrast with Manuel, Glen enjoyed school as a boy. He grew up with five siblings and currently lives near two of his sisters on San Pedro.  His mom is a frequent guest who stays with his sisters when she comes monthly.  As he was telling the story, I thought about how often my parents come to visit me (quite often) and how long it's been since I went home for a visit.  Of course, they live fairly close to me, but I only go home on average, once a year.  Glen said he hasn't been to the mainland in four years. According to him, he came to the island for all the girls; however, he says they're all crazy. Not sure how he came to that conclusion, but we'll go with it.  He also says the pay is higher on San Pedro in comparison to Belize City with many more activities to keep him busy.

He has one daughter, age 12, who attends RC school.  He doesn't see her often and isn't with her mother anymore.  I wonder is this part of the culture on San Pedro or are there a larger percentage of married couples and Glen is the minority?

I have to say, this island is filled with friendly people who like to share their life story.  It makes being away from home this long, a little easier.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

We're here!

               Leaving Belize City for San Pedro, we are ready for some cultural immersion on San Pedro. 

Belize City to San Pedro was quite the experience; it's not every day you get to ride a ten passenger "puddle jumper."  Takeoff was a little scary, but the view took my mind off the plan swaying in the breeze.

 Welcome to San Pedro, Belize!

     In the short time I've been here, I have found that each Belizean has his or her own story.  Today I met Manuel, the snorkel guide/captain of the SeaDuced boat.  A conversation with him revealed that he believed school wasn’t for him.  Sitting in one place all day didn’t interest him as a child.  He longed to be in the real-world receiving hands-on training to learn a skill.  As a teen, he worked odd jobs to make money in Belize City, his hometown.  Finally, at the age of sixteen, he had saved enough to come to San Pedro and start his life.  His experiences with elders at each of his jobs helped him gain the knowledge to become a boat captain, master diver, and phenomenal guide, able to distinguish sergeant major from blue striped grunt and other types of fish that line the reef at Hol Chan Marine Reserve with ease.  Looking back, he has no regrets.  
     This brief conversation revealed that diplomas in particular settings may not be relevant or the standard for everyone.  In Belize, it's possible to make money and live without completing high school and it appears this may be the case for many children in this area.  I'm going to continue to have conversations throughout the week with the natives to see if my conjecture holds true.