|Experiencing Belize through the McMaster School|
|Monday, 20 December 2010 00:00|
I am writing this Blog from Belize City, where I just arrived with a group of Defiance College students (and two faculty) after having spent about 10 days in and near the jungle at the Hillbank Research Station in a nature preserve in the interior of Belize. This has been an incredible trip and experience for all of us — and it is just one of the many such experiences that DC students enjoy as part of the pioneering McMaster School for Advancing Humanity, funded through the generosity of the family of Harold and Helen McMaster.
I have been very impressed with the way the students have implemented their various service projects, from teaching in the schools to training the community in CPR, from doing chemical analysis on water sources to mapping nesting sites for a particular species of parrot. Each of these projects was devised with the active input of the communities affected, and we have now even more ideas from the communities for additional projects for future years.
While implementing all the projects has been the main focus of activity, we have also had an opportunity to participate in a wide range of fascinating experiences. Mayan history came alive for us as we climbed the ruins of several ancient temples at Lamanai. We spent yesterday evening on the lagoon spotting crocodiles. We have hiked through the jungle to do soil compaction studies, spoken with members of the Mennonite community, tested soil at numerous farms, attended a wedding celebration in a town in northern Belize, seen countless different kinds of wildlife in their natural habitat (including crocodiles, howler monkeys, an agouti, a coatimundi, owls, a huge snake, turtles, and countless species of birds), learned to drink water from the water vine tree in the jungle, and much more. We have had an opportunity to interact with a wide range of people in Belize, getting to know school children, farmers, and, in one case, an entire village.
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