Alumni Spotlight: Leah Wafful


Leah Wafful is a 2nd year graduate student from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. She traveled to Belize in June 2012. Originally from Fort Dodge, Iowa (a small Midwest town), Leah had dreams at a young age of being able to travel abroad and make an impact on a third-world country.

Why did you decide to study abroad with Study in Belize?

I decided to travel abroad because I knew that I wouldn’t get the opportunity once I graduated from grad school. To travel somewhere for a month would be hard to do with a full-time job. I was pushed by my desire to succeed. I often times do not like to step out of my comfort zone, but I did and I am glad that I did. Belize gave me the extra 'oomph' I needed in my life and on my resume. I believe it’s an extraordinary opportunity to be able to say you have traveled abroad and have worked with a diverse population of students. I wanted to show that I could do something great for myself and bring back memories to share with my friends, family, classmates, and coworkers.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

The experience was great due to the efforts of the Study in Belize program offered by Rhondine Petrof. She treated me like her own daughter and cared for me. She gave me confidence. Without her organizational skills and determination, this trip would have not gone well. I thank her for all her hard work and her knowledge of Belize.

What were some of your program's highlights?

I think the highlight of my trip was when I got to venture out to San Pedro Island on one of my weekends off. That was the first time I had ever seen the Caribbean or anything so blue in all my life. I went snorkeling, held a shark, and a sting ray. I met a group of individuals doing mission work down there and had dinner with them. I also enjoyed the internship at the YWCA. There I met inspiring young girls with many hopes and dreams to become better people and to help make Belize become a powerful and successful country. The whole trip was eye opening for me, as it was my first time abroad, and I was completely alone. I never took family vacations, or did much traveling. I was really surprised at how well I did.

What did your typical morning look like?

Majority of my time in Belize I stayed at the Bed and Breakfast “Villa Boscardi.” There I was greeted each morning for by other individuals staying at the bed and breakfast, housekeepers Anna and Belgi, Muffin (dog), and the owner. Breakfast was always prepared and I was always satisfied. I always had a hot shower, clean towels, electricity, and window air.


My afternoons varied depending on where I was doing my internships. During my time in Belize I worked mainly in Belize City. By 9 or 10 I was at each site performing my duties. I usually went to a local stand for something to eat: chicken, rice, soup, and always a Coke or water.


Around 5 I would get home and by then it would be dark. As the city was unfamiliar I did not venture out by myself. I mainly stayed in the bed and breakfast, called family, ordered food or made food. I had access to the kitchen where there was a stove, refrigerator, and microwave. There were several local restaurants not too far away and actually one right behind where I stayed.

How has this experience impacted your future?

This trip has impacted my everyday life. I plan to travel back to Belize once I start getting a “real” paycheck and have saved up some money. I think being able to say that you have worked with a diverse background is important in your everyday life. It gives you an extra leap over everyone else when applying for jobs. The individuals I met along the way will forever touch me and help me understand what it is like to live in a different part of the world.