My name is Kristine and I am from the state of Colorado in the United States. I decided to make a career change into nursing after about 6 years of working in administration. I decided nursing was my calling and was really looking for a way to jump-start my career. That’s where Projects Abroad came in! I was looking for a combination of volunteer, international, and healthcare experience. I knew I needed to check off those boxes on the resume and for nursing schools, and Projects Abroad was able to offer that for me. After researching the program, I signed up and found myself on a plane flying to Belize a few short weeks later!
From the beginning, I was really impressed with Projects Abroad. My pre-trip advisor was phenomenal and very helpful. I was also impressed because one of the Projects Abroad staff in Belize was there waiting for me upon arrival in San Pedro (even though I landed a couple hours early). She took me to lunch and we went over all the policies and then she gave me a tour of the island. I was taken to my host family’s house and had a chance to get settled. The next day I was greeted at the office by my volunteer coordinator who had an immensely full schedule of tasks and activities for me to accomplish in the next month. Needless to say, this was exactly what I was looking for and was very excited about all of the projects I would be working on.
As mentioned above, the month that I was in Belize was jam packed with public health related activities. I helped with the mobile clinic 3 days per week in various neighborhoods around San Pedro and I helped organize an HIV clinic (and even went on the Reef Radio TV Morning Show to advertise the event), and did intake forms all day for the event. I also helped prepare and start a mosquito borne illness campaign because rainy season was just about to start as I was leaving (and mosquitos were about to be a big problem on the island)! Furthermore, I helped at a dental clinic and checked for lice on children. Finally, I was able to observe in a medical clinic on San Pedro for about 12 hours while down there which was a very interesting experience for me to see the differences between healthcare in the US and healthcare in Belize. Overall, these assignments were perfect for me and I was extremely happy I got to experience all of these different things. I even got trained on how to check for blood sugar levels while down in Belize, which I hadn’t gotten trained in for my nursing assistant program in the states. I thought that was really cool and beneficial for my career!
I absolutely loved my volunteer supervisor. She was professional, friendly, and flexible. I really loved the activities she assigned to me—they were so fitting for me. And I really liked how approachable she was with anything you wanted to discuss. Having her around definitely made a huge impact on my overall experience in Belize. The other staff were very friendly and answered anything I asked them. They also planned a lot of fun activities for all the volunteers. I really appreciated those.
To touch on my homestay, I stayed in the neighborhood of San Mateo. I stayed with an extremely nice family that made the most delicious food. Staying with a host family was such a fabulous part of the whole experience. I was able to attend church with my host family a couple of times, which was very interesting. I also lived with two Danish girls the whole time I was there. So, I was exposed to two different cultures simultaneously while down in Belize. One of my favorite parts about the host stay and experience was that every day, I chose to ride my Projects Abroad bike to and from work right along the beach. It was a beautiful ride and a perfect way to start and end the day. The host family lived right near the beach so I would just love to do that daily. It was also very interesting because I got to meet so many different family members staying with this host family. I met the mom, grandmother, son, son’s girlfriend and mom’s fiancé. I got to know each one over the course of a month and really learned a lot. I found it to be a great growing experience for me.
Belize is a very interesting and beautiful country that has a lot to offer. There were a few bumps in the road for me along the way, but overall, my experience in Belize and with Projects Abroad was superb. I highly recommend Projects Abroad (especially Belize) to anyone looking to make a career change, do something different, help out a community, and learn new skills. It was an experience of a lifetime and I will forever more keep this experience on my resume.