2010-05-05 / School & Sports

BC Education Majors Teach in Remote Schools in Belize

Conduct Scientific Experiments in Rain Forest

Ready to explore the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, Belize, are Bainbridge College students who worked in Belize this semester. Standing (L-R) are Amber Addison, Paige Poitevint, Twila Crocket, Valley Rogers, Hayden Holt, Joseph Sarpong, Feliciano Fancisco Gonzalez, Rayna Andrews, Reca Flanders and Eric Dueno. In front are Lacey Walker, Amanda Inlow, McCall Mason, Tiffany Smith, Heather Morton, Mary Margaret Wells, Jenna Jeter and Samantha Hager. Ready to explore the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, Belize, are Bainbridge College students who worked in Belize this semester. Standing (L-R) are Amber Addison, Paige Poitevint, Twila Crocket, Valley Rogers, Hayden Holt, Joseph Sarpong, Feliciano Fancisco Gonzalez, Rayna Andrews, Reca Flanders and Eric Dueno. In front are Lacey Walker, Amanda Inlow, McCall Mason, Tiffany Smith, Heather Morton, Mary Margaret Wells, Jenna Jeter and Samantha Hager. Instead of sunning on the beach during Spring Break, 16 Bainbridge College (BC) education majors flew across the Caribbean to work with students in remote Belizean classrooms for an education class and to study Mayan ruins, rain forest plants and test water quality for a science class.

The students from Bainbridge, Cairo, Climax and Colquitt who worked in schools in Corozal, Belize, examined engineering and time keeping aspects of Mayan ruins, studied medicinal plants and discovered that mineral content and alkalinity of Belizean water is like Georgia’s.

The study abroad group included Bainbridge residents Reca Flanders, Samantha Hager, Amanda Inlow, Jenna Jeter (who also has family in Colquitt), McCall Mason, Heather Morton, Paige Poitevint, Joseph Sarpong, Tiffany Smith and Lacey Walker; Cairo residents Amber Addison and Feliciano Francisco Gonzalez; Climax residents Rayna Andrews and Mary Wells, and Colquitt residents Twila Crockett (who also has family in Newton) and Hayden Holt. They were accompanied by Early Childhood Care and Education Program Director and Assistant Professor Valley Rogers, who organized the trip, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Eric Dueno, who is new to BC’s study abroad program.

The group flew to Belize City, the largest city of the country that gained independence from Great Britain in 1981, and experienced its wide mix of cultures. Then they went to Corozal in northern Belize and ended the trip in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Since returning home, they have been sharing their experiences and what they learned from the cultural differences they encountered on their working trip.

For example, Feliciano Francisco Gonzalez of Cairo spoke to Bainbridge Lions Club to thank the club for its scholarship that helped to send him to Belize and to tell about how he overcame challenges during the trip. Other students have presented their Belize experiences at Bainbridge College, Bainbridge High School, Hutto Middle School and John Johnson Elementary.

Talking to a BC education class, Rayna Andrews of Climax gave an overview of the trip, the culture shock she felt seeing third world poverty in a crowded big city and hearing many languages, including Mayan and Chinese in addition to English, Belize’s official language along with Spanish and Creole. She discovered her deep love of teaching as she worked with the class of 30 first graders and their one teacher. Some of them speak several languages; others do not know English.

Although the BC group worked several days in classrooms, they had time to see natural and historic sites to enhance their learning. They climbed the ruins of a Mayan temple at Lamanai, saw exotic animals in the zoo, snorkeled and fished in the Caribbean, and went zip lining and cave tubing.

To make the week-long trip, which was part of their coursework in the education and the integrated science classes, the students worked to raise funds for their expenses. They organized garage sales, sold poinsettias, baked goods, and BC Cookbooks.

“This group of students worked diligently to be able to go,” said Library Director Susan Ralph, who serves as co-coordinator of BC’s International Education Program with Dr. Dave Nelson. “As our international study opportunities expand, we see a greater need for scholarships to help our students study abroad. We are thankful that the BC Ambassadors have agreed to share part of their scholarship funds from the BC Cookbook sales to help our students take advantage of these educational opportunities.”

“It is amazing that Bainbridge College offers study abroad trips,” Ms. Andrews said in her presentation, noting there are groups going to London and to the Galapagos Islands and more trips are being planned for next year. The full-time student and mother of three said that study abroad is not out of reach for BC students.

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