Where in the world are we?

Where in the World are We?

22 April 2009

Happy Earth Day - Go Green!

In honor of Earth Day, we each presented lessons at our schools. Ginnie did a session with Club GLOW where we discussed ways each of us can make a difference in saving the planet. All the girls made one promise for an action they will take to help Earth. I am proud to say that half of them made the promise to stop littering. Tossing trash on the ground is a common occurrence and one we cringe at every time we see it; each of us always addresses students we work with when they litter but can't always stop those who throw it out the bus window or the people who just drop their trash as they walk down the street. We're hopeful to steadily change this behavior by continuing to talk about it and model appropriate trash disposal and by establishing a sense of pride in the environment. One step at a time, let's all hope these girls keep their promises. Other promises involve shutting off the faucet while brushing teeth and using their own containers when they get burgers (instead of the styrofoam that is so common for all take-out).

The girls enjoyed doing mazes to help find the recycling bin for bottles and newspapers, coloring Happy Earth Day pictures and searching for words related to conservation in a fun Earth Day word search. It was really helpful to speak with the girls about saving the planet and hopefully, like me when I was their age, they will realize how important it is to make simple behavior changes to save the planet. Next goal - recycling at school, let's see if we can encourage the students and teachers to get excited about that! :)

So, have you made your Earth Day promise yet?

Here are some links to help you consider the things you can do right now!

Calculate your carbon footprint here

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." ~ Native American Proverb

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money." ~ Cree Indian Proverb

13 April 2009

TMS Library Project Update

We are very excited to announce that the library grant has been fully funded and Peace Corps transferred the money last week prior to the break.  We, along with the staff and students at Trinity, are extremely grateful to all of you who made a donation to support the completion of this library. We are now able to cover the shipping costs and use the remaining funds for purchase of supplies to build more shelves and furniture to make the library functional for students. 

In other news, the labeling and cataloguing of the books was finally completed in mid-March and now Ginnie is preparing library lessons and activities which will begin when school reopens on April 20th.  After working in libraries for so many years, I finally get to return to those roots and act as a librarian for 6 of the 8 weeks I have left at the school. (Yes, I said 8 – how did time fly so quickly? It actually panics me because there is still so much to do to get the library open and the students and teachers trained to use it on their own next year.)  The next step involves getting supplies and spending time in each class to teach them about the library, how to treat and respect the books, how to find a good book, and procedures for checking out and in books borrowed.  

It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it to have a functioning library for the children and the staff of Trinity.  They are so excited to start borrowing books, in fact, some of the students who help me in the library have picked out their first choices and are ready to read.  I even heard from a few students that they want to read all the books in the library!  Great goal – I support them fully J

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11 April 2009

April Updates - Sport's Day and Band Fest '09

Sports Daze

Just before the start of the two week Easter holiday each of our schools held their annual Sports Days.  St. Luke on Wednesday and Trinity on Thursday.

Anthony snapped this photo and officially dubbed it, "The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat!"

Our schools were seas of green, red, blue, and yellow with the children in their house shirts. Competition was high as the houses sought victory in the many battles that included sprints, sack races, lime and spoon races, three-legged races, and team spirit.
The popular sack race, this guy leaves the competition in the dust

Lower division students compete in the lime and spoon race

There was a lot of cheering and chanting for houses and students and teachers alike were engaged in the spirit of the day.

The green house at Trinity tries to charm the competition

While a tad chaotic, it was a lot of fun to cheer on the teams. We each had to decline the role of judge because we saw the fierce competitiveness among our teachers and did not want to end up in any heated arguments – we left that to the parent volunteers! Overall, both days were fun and we enjoyed being part of the excitement.

Students in the lime and spoon at Trinity; Taking a break from the action with a yummy orange

Waiting to start the games at Trinity

Band Fest 2009

Our break began with a trip to Cayo for the Fourth Annual Love FM Band Fest. St. Luke’s marching band was competing and we went to support them in their return to the competition. The Band Fest was one of the coolest events we've attended in Belize. It’s like a really long halftime routine with marching bands performing 10-15 minute routines.

 St. Luke's taking the field at Band Fest '09

The bands from Belize City were the first to compete and when we saw Holy Redeemer put up a pyramid, we both thought Ginnie should have come over and taught stunting to the St. Luke team! At any rate, the Belize City teams were overshadowed by the bands from the west. Not to mention their fans – the teams from the west had whole sections in the stands cheering for them.

Performing dance moves for the crowd

We were loud for St. Luke's, but with a smaller crowd it just didn’t have the same effect. We pretty much knew who the winner would be when the Succotz Festival Drum Corps came out and started playing marching band classics combined with a few modern songs.  They really busted out with high energy dancing and marching! All of the bands did a fantastic job and we really loved the positive message of the event – to bring music to the schools and engage youth in a meaningful and positive activity. After the day’s events ended and we were relaxing in our room, we started hearing the bands starting up again, so we headed out to the park where Succotz came out with their first place trophy and marched down the streets playing. Seeing the kids with their families and friends so proud was such a great evening!

 More marching and drumming

02 April 2009

Sisters Exploring Belize

Erin came to Belize! We had a whirlwind adventure while she was here for a very short, but very busy, five days. She came in on Friday the 20th in the afternoon and we spent the evening hanging out and catching up on two years of Maya’s crazy antics. Maya has lived with Erin longer than she lived with us, so I kind of wonder whose dog she is at this point!

Our first excursion was to get Erin out to the beautiful island of Caye Caulker for a day of relaxing by the Caribe Sea and enjoying some tropical sun. We took the girl who really doesn’t like the heat right into the hot hot sun that day, but we found a wonderful palm tree under which to lay and read and relax; it was perfect. We walked around and ate delicious cinnamon buns from the bakery and later had a nice, long lunch at The Sandbox. The rest of the day involved more relaxing in the shade of the palm trees before returning to the city and resting for our next day of exploring Belize on the fast track.

The palm tree that provided us a nice, cool place to relax by the sea

Erin spotted this starfish as we walked along the pier to catch the ferry home

So, day two involved a long day on the bus, but Erin had to see her first Maya ruin site. We got up early and the rain was pouring down...figures. We waited it out as long as we could and finally just headed to the bus terminal to make our way to San Ignacio and the ruins of Xunantunich. Erin enjoyed her bus experience (I think, at least it gave her some time to read) and after 3 hours, we reached Xunantunich and it was just slightly cloudy. The mile long trek up to the site was not her favorite, but she handled it well and we enjoyed a simple lunch of bananas and peanut butter and crackers as we sat beneath the temples. We toured the site and I even got Erin to climb El Castillo (she was hesitant, but how could she come all that way and not see the amazing views of the site, Cayo, and Guatemala?). When we visited before, we spotted and heard Howler monkeys, but they were not out on this trip. That turned out alright because Erin got a pretty interesting Howler monkey experience later in the trip. We finally walked ourselves back to the ferry and then waited for our bus back to the city. I wanted to stop in San Ignacio town to walk around, but being that it was Sunday, everything was closed and by this time it was after 4 and we were ready to make our way back home.

The view from atop El Castillo

Standing in the plaza with El Castillo behind

We found it quite fascinating that the ancient Maya liked Pringles.... hmm

When Monday came it was Erin’s birthday and time to visit my school. She joined me for the morning where we spent some time in the library and she got a glimpse of the plans for setting up the space. We also visited every class where she got a warm welcome greeting from everyone. We enjoyed a fabulous read-aloud from Fudge-a-mania in Standard 3 as well as some group reading time in Infant 2. Then came the Club GLOW Birthday party! The girls have been so excited to meet my sister for months and we planned a lee party to wish her a happy day and thank her for joining us. The girls started off so shy and quiet – I’d never seen them like this at all! Then, we got some cake into them and their personalities came right out. Suddenly, they were out on the veranda preparing a song and then it became a little singing and dancing party! They sang special items to Erin and then we all danced to “We Are Family” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!” What a treat for all of us. It was a pretty great day, if you ask me! That afternoon was spent taking Erin to some of our regular shops and all to get things we needed for her requested birthday dinner of homemade macaroni and cheese.

Singing to Erin; All ah we

Jahel couldn't help joining in the dancing when he heard all the noise

Tuesday was another fun-filled day with a trip to the Belize Zoo! I knew Erin had to see the zoo because it’s so fabulous and she works with animals. We really took our time to see all the animals and as we were walking we began to hear the Howler Monkeys. Erin’s face was priceless when she first heard the sounds and looked at me like imminent doom was ahead of us. I said “That’s the Howler monkeys!” I’d been trying to explain their sound to her when we were at Xunantunich, but saying it sounds like something from Jurassic Park just doesn’t do justice to the reality of their monstrous bellows. We had to go right back to the Howler Monkey area to see what brought about this midday howling fiesta. We found two pair of monkeys on opposing areas in the trees just howling and making this barking noise back and forth. It was so interesting and went on for quite a while. This is the first time we were close enough to get good video of it so you can hear them, too (see the video at the end of the post). Isn’t it crazy?!?

It was hot - these guys found some shade for a nice morning nap

The keel-billed toucan was messing with us - looked right at the camera and just as I snapped the shutter, flew off!!

A type of toucan whose name I can't recall; Panama, the Harpy Eagle

Is Erin really shorter than a Jabiru Stork???

I wanted to take Erin out to Belmopan and to visit the PC office, but Anthony had gone in for a meeting and let me know it was empty because the entire staff was at a meeting elsewhere. Instead, we decided to return to the city and spend some time downtown. We ended up on a mystery bus – I think it just stopped because two tourists were waiting, so we asked the driver if he was going to the city and he said yes. Then I needed to check on the price and he started with the actual $2 BZ and then said $2 US, but we cleared that right up and everyone was set for the $2 BZ price and we were off on a very quick ride on a school bus with redesigned tall seats (not good for trying to see and not be car sick) that randomly stopped once for 3 workers. We got off right by the terminal and helped the tourists find their way to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi and then picked up packages from the post office and got some fabric for the dress one of the teachers is making for me and for some coverings for furniture at the house. We then took a rather interesting bus ride home that involved some street racing with another city bus – I didn’t know they were in competition for fares, but evidently they are. I am pretty sure this was the highlight of the trip for Erin – she couldn’t stop talking about it!

Wednesday brought Erin’s last morning and we went over to YES so she was able to see my other project. We hung out with Vicky for a while chatting and Erin got to see where all the teen mom classes are held. We spent the rest of the morning hanging out and then made our way back up to the airport. It was sad to say goodbye, but we know we’ll see each other in a few months, so it was easier than the last time we parted for two years!

On the bus returning home from the zoo

It was so much fun to share Belize with Erin and we are thankful to her for bringing us some Easter candy and treats and for being here with us for a few days. Lucky her, the hot season decided to hit hard right after she left! It was fairly cool while she was here (by our standards, I mean she was hot, but it wasn’t unbearable and she used the high-speed ceiling fan). So, have we inspired you to come for a visit? We love visitors and you will love Belize!

Check out the Howler Monkeys howling competition! It's a bit shaky, sorry, but this is really more for the sound of the monkeys - crazy, no true?