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The Office of Social Justice Service-immersion Experience
Keyword: service
Hello from Belize!!
Today was our first day of service and we were all very excited. For many of us, this was the part of the trip that we were looking forward to the most. I know I was. We arrived at the Punta Gorda Red Cross where their dedicated volunteer, Ms. Terry, greeted us with such warmth. We immediately got to work cleaning the inside of the PG Red Cross to prepare it for a new paint job. Some of us braved the hot Belizean sun and painted the outside of the building. At the end of the day we painted almost the entire building inside and out. Our first day was a great accomplishment not only because of how much we finished, but because the team worked so well together towards something good.
Students paiting building at Red Cross
Ms. Terry talked to us about the services the Red Cross provides to Punta Gorda. Not only does the PG Red Cross provide family emergency and disaster planning, it also provides testing and prevention of HIV as well as an elderly outreach program. Ms. Terry also wants to expand the Red Cross outreach to include adults with special needs. The PG Red Cross is an integral part of the community here.
Service group in Belize - Red Cross
Community service is such a beautiful and important part of this immersion trip. I am so grateful that we were able to do something good for the people of Punta Gorda. We often think of community service as helping people in our immediate community, but I believe that this thinking needs to be expanded. In these modern times we need to start thinking of ourselves as global citizens with our community having no borders. Community service is about helping our fellow neighbor, no matter where in the world they may reside.
So far this has been an awesome trip and I am looking forward to the week ahead of us!
Micahela Mobley Class of 2014

Support crew in frot of Church

5 a.m. wake-up call from the head leader Jeff with his soft tone telling us to rise and shine. Getting up this morning was a bit tough but the only thing that helped me get out of bed and not ignoring Jeff was that today was the last day we were working on the church and we could not be late, and also seeing the beautiful sun rising in the sky. We all headed down to breakfast for the last time at 5:30 a.m. and talked about how close we are to being done with the church and how excited we are to just do our very best today!

While driving down the road right before we hit, what seems to be endless, the bumpy roller coaster to our village, we see Frankie, Wendell and other people from his crew off to the side. We ended up driving to the church garage for Wendell to bring back a spare tire for Frankie's truck. While driving on the rocky road to the village, we were all expecting to see Frankie driving slowly because of his tire, but he ended up getting to the work site way before us and not needing the tire....Click here to read more.

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....Click here to read more.

Today was our seventh day in Belize and our third day of service. It rains every night here and last night was no exception. After another 4:30 a.m. wake up and a nice breakfast, courtesy of the Regina and Desiree of the Nazareth Retreat Center, we headed out to the work site. Unfortunately, the rain last night was stronger than we expected; the road leading to Jalacte (the village where the library is located) was muddy. We were forced to turn around and head to Punta Gorda when we came across some school buses that were stuck in the mud. On our drive back we were surprised to see that as we gave the kids a heads-up that their bus wasn't coming on time they stayed put and continued to wait. Belizean school kids are very dedicated to learning.

school and service...Click here to read more.

Its day 2 of service and we've accomplished sooooo much! We started the day off with a 4:30 a.m. wakeup call (aka Jeff banging on our doors), had our last breakfast at the Tranquility Lodge before we packed up the truck to head to the service site. We managed to finish all of the trimming on the outside of the library and one of the two rooms on the inside. All we have left is one room and the railing! Everyone has been working so well together and always team up on a project, that's probably why we've been moving so fast. Outside of painting the library it has been nice to take break and play with the kids in the village during recess or lunch. They are so light hearted and curious about everything. A lot of the time they are shy but once they warm up to us they are very talkative and rambunctious. I think I will probably miss them the most.

After we finished setting up the second room for a paint job we left the site for the day to head to our new home for the next 3 nights, the Nazareth Retreat Center. Once we pulled up we were greeted by Sister Steven; all of the sisters here are beyond kind to us. We quickly cleaned up from painting and walked around the grounds of the beautiful retreat center. There is a rosary walk right next to our rooms, marked by grey stones designed with colorful rocks to lead you in praying the rosary. On our walk we also saw their church and met Sister Josefina (Jeff LOVES her). However, our exploration outside was rudely interrupted by a stray dog that was barking at us (I guess he thinks he lives here). It's ok though because dinner was about to start anyway. Regina and Desiree graciously cooked us rice with red beans, fried fish, mashed potatoes, plantains, stir fried vegetables and delicious homemade pie, yum. Before the night was over the group had a great debrief session in the lounge. We discussed about how we've acclimated to the environment and how our perceptions of Belize have changed us. Personally, the culture here has truly changed my definition of a "home" and happiness. Though at first glance it may not seem as if they have much, their homes and families are abundantly rich in love, support, humility and faith. I feel as if I've taken so much already from this experience and its only Day 6!


(Mom, Dad and Tra' I'm doing great! I was the only one in the group to not get bitten by any bugs but that winning streak ended yesterday. But I'm having fun and yes, I am safe. See you all when I get back!)

Tranise Garland '13

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