Monday, March 22, 2010

Final Thoughts Stateside...

After arriving back in snowy OKC around 11:00pm last night, everyone hugged our goodbyes, anxious to catch up on some well-deserved rest before school starts on Tuesday!!! I wanted to put down some final thoughts on our trip:
First, let me say how proud Kristi and I are of all the girls!! These four worked without ceasing or complaining during our homestay in Armenia village and made a huge impact on not only the physcial facilities of the school, but (more importantly) on the lives of the students. It was great to watch the connections they made playing soccer, tutoring, and playing on the new swingset! They worked through sweat, rain, and sand fleas without ever once whining or wanting to stop! This was such a great group to work with!!
I was also very impressed with the quality of the people with whom we worked at every stop. From the staff at Monkey Bay, the guide at Xunantunich, the host moms, Matt and Michelle at Tobacco Caye, to our eternally optimistic guide, Juan--all were of the highest caliber and expertise. This was one of the best trips I have been a part of in almost six years of leading student trips.
Perhaps the best thing was seeing the connections the students made between the changes that occured in them and through them. On their own, they came up with almost three pages of ideas for how we can continue to engage in the work we started in Armenia. We are all different people because of this trip and I can't wait to see where we go from here!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Final Update from Belize!!!

This will be our final update from the amazing country of Belize! We had another full day today! This morning started with a time of quiet reflection for the students where they read their parent letters and spent about an hour journaling about their experience here. We had a great discussion last night about what they have learned during our time here about both themselves and the greater global issues we have encountered. The students have really been stretched both mentally and physically and are looking forward to the ways they can take this experience back with them to the States.
After our reflection time, we boated out to snorkel in the open water over the world's second largest coral reef! We lunched at Southwater Caye and spent an hour swimming in the beautiful, clear blue water and white sands! After the refreshing swim, we toured the National Smithsonian Institute Marine Field Station, Man-O-War Key, and snorkeled under the mangrove trees!
Tonight we will night snorkel to see a whole different marine environment then get a few hours rest before we take off for our return journey home!
This has been such a rich, rewarding experience for all involved and Kristi and I are so proud of these girls! They have really come together nicely and done some great work here in Belize and I can't wait to see what the future holds! We will be in touch as we make our way to snowy OKC but, if you need anything, please do not hesitate to call my cell.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Update from Tobacco Caye!

Our group had a wonderful time in the village of Armenia. We repaired and painted the swingsets, installed new black boards, painted the library floor and even tutored the kids! Everyone worked incredibly hard and the Heritage Hall girls left quite an impact on the community! The homestays were wonderful! Everyone really bonded with their host family and there were many happy memories made at the community dinner. The team really connected with the Armenian people and we are thinking through ways to continue to fund raise and create awareness in order to impact this village and its school for many years to come.
We are now drying off from our afternoon snorkel at Tobacco Caye! We are in paradise! The team explored beautiful coral reefs, tropical fish, and even a barracuda or two--all as we learn about the effects of global warming on this fragile ecosystem.
Tomorrow we will continue our marine snorkeling expedition in both the afternoon and at night! This trip has far exceeded all of our expectations and the students can't wait until next Spring Break~~

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Students have arrived in the community!

The students have arrived in their host community of Armenia. They have settled into their homestays and are working hard on the service project. There is not an internet connection in the community but Scott Martin will be calling daily so that we are able to update the blog. Please call 303-679-3412 with any questions.

Erin Lasky
Program Director