Today was our eighth day in Belize and our final day of service. The 4:30 a.m. wake-up call was followed by a delicious and filling breakfast courtesy of the Nazareth Retreat Center. We then headed out on our final rocky road trip to Jalacate, where the library is located.

There was no better way to start our day of work, than being invited to attend the school's morning assembly. Here we witnessed the school's weekly announcements and heard them sing Belize's national anthem and pray the Our Father, for which we joined them. The community of Jalacate was so welcoming to us each day. As a sign of their appreciation, the students formed a line and shook our hands thanking us for our work. Seeing their smiles and enthusiasm made all of the work we had been doing much more meaningful. As a sign of our appreciation for being so welcomed into their village and able to serve with them, we presented the school with a Mount St. Mary's University hat, which the principal accepted and actually wore the rest of the day. It will be placed in the school's principal's office as a token of our gratitude.

We were surprised to also receive a gift. One of the teachers gave us a beautifully handcrafted purse with the school's name on it which will be displayed in the Office of Social Justice so that we can remember our time in the village as well.

We then moved on to our work, and actually completed the finishing touches on the school library's paint job, and were even able to clean up for them. The principal was so grateful to see the progress of the library and was looking forward to be able to make the library available to the students within the next week or so. After finishing up, saying good-bye to our fellow workers, we boarded the van, looking at the village for the last time. Even though our time with them was short, we will always remember the community there.

To finish out our last day of service, we explored the local shops of Punta Gorda and enjoyed a nice buffet dinner at Marian's Café, overlooking the Gulf of Honduras and watching the sun setting. The food was once again filling and delicious and a great way to end our time in Punta Gorda.

I can't believe that this is my final service experience at the Mount and am so glad that I've experienced it with the Jalacate community. I will never forget working and growing with the people of Jalacte and our group from the Mount.

I can't wait to share all of my stories and pictures of my UnBelizeable experience in Belize. Now off to Punta Gorda for Market Day and checking in to Hopkins.

(I would like to thank my Mom, Jeff, Karen, family, friends, and the Mount community for all the love, guidance, and support over the years.)
Megan Ritchey '12