BSC students visit Belize

Published 5:53 pm Friday, April 5, 2013

The Bainbridge State College students pose in front of mask at Lamanai temple, in Belize. Shown are: starting at top, left to right, Zack Brinkley of Cairo; Ridge Harper, Jenny Harper and Shelby Harper, of Bainbridge; Suzanne DeValle of Cairo; Mack Lane of Brinson; Amy Warren of Tifton; Ansley Watts, Jessica Vazquez and Valley Rogers, of Bainbridge; Davey Reynolds of Brinson; and Bailey Wells of Colquitt.

The Bainbridge State College students pose in front of mask at Lamanai temple, in Belize. Shown are: starting at top, left to right, Zack Brinkley of Cairo; Ridge Harper, Jenny Harper and Shelby Harper, of Bainbridge; Suzanne DeValle of Cairo; Mack Lane of Brinson; Amy Warren of Tifton; Ansley Watts, Jessica Vazquez and Valley Rogers, of Bainbridge; Davey Reynolds of Brinson; and Bailey Wells of Colquitt.

By DALE FULLER

BSC Executive Director of Institutional Advancement

During spring break, seven Bainbridge State College (BSC) students traveled abroad to Belize, Central America, accompanied by BSC faculty members Valley Rogers, Dr. Jenny Harper, and Ridge Harper.

The Belize study abroad program consists of course work on campus and travel to Belize for a week of saturation in a different culture. Course objectives are met through completed work before traveling to Belize.

“Students learn more than what the faculty could even plan to teach as they walk, eat, and observe in another culture,” Rogers said.

Students taking course work in biology, anthropology and/or education classes complement the course work with the nine-day trip. The trip includes visiting three different districts in the country; starting in Belize City, moving north to Corozal District, and then east to Ambergris Caye. They compared previous cultures’ environmental influences on surrounding ecosystems and contrasted that to how modern-day Belizeans impact the environment. Students observed the art, architecture, archeology, and cultural evidence left behind by the historical residents of the Mayan culture while climbing three distinctly different temples in three districts of Belize. Students were graciously invited to observe in the primary and secondary schools in Corozal, Belize, as well.

Along with meeting objectives of course work, students immersed themselves in the culture. Typical of the culture, they walked to get to the schools they visited, shared dinner with a local family, and learned to barter at the shops and to correctly use the exchange of currency. They ate at road side eateries ordering the staple foods of chicken, rice and beans, and coleslaw.

“Not only was Belize the greatest trip I ever went on it was also a valuable learning experience that I will always remember,” student Davey Jones said.

Each evening the students met to discuss the daily work with their professors.

“The insights from the students about what they were learning and about themselves in another culture were amazing,” Rogers said.

Jessica Vazque, an education student, stated, “The trip was a great experience for me and my classmates.

“It allowed me to realize the difference in the school systems in the United States and the school system in Belize. It allowed me to have an open mind to new experiences in life. It was a great trip.”

The trip has one more component before students will receive credit for their course work. Each student will be presenting course objectives in a presentation to local schools or in a BSC college class.

“Although the course work will be ending, the life-long lessons learned while being in another culture will never end,” Rogers said.

Baily Wells summed up the trip well with, “Our trip to Belize was a great experience; one that I will never forget!”

A representative from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) participated in the trip as well, to gather information in anticipation of ABAC offering a similar trip for their students in the future.

Amy Warren, department coordinator of education and family and consumer science at ABAC, went on the trip to experience how she may implement the study aboard program for their students. This year’s co-leaders have shared what they have found to be successful with colleagues from other University System of Georgia (USG) schools as well as with Corozal Community College in Corozal, Belize.

BSC and Corozal Community College (CCC) have been working together for the last five years. BSC has offered professional development workshops to the Belizean teachers. CCC has arranged for BSC students to visit the local schools and the college classroom.

Last year, BSC hosted CCC education students during their spring visit to the states. Potter Street Elementary School and Jones-Wheat Elementary School graciously allowed the CCC students to observe Decatur County’s educational system.