I am so grateful to have had the experience to volunteer in Belize this past summer. I signed up for this trip not knowing a single person, which was a huge step outside my comfort zone. However, once I arrived at the airport and was greeted by the staff and other students with rice and beans, I was excited for the two weeks ahead.
We received incredible academic instruction and I feel my cultural competency is what developed the most over the course of the trip. The supervisors were really good at sharing their own experiences to teach us what to do (and even admitting their mistakes to teach us what not to do). I had never treated a client before, so it was so helpful to have their feedback at all times throughout the day, while also hearing the perspective of our other supervisors who were from San Ignacio and surrounding areas. Not going to lie, it is hard work and you will be tired at the end of the day, but it is well worth it and I wouldn't trade my experience for the world.
We had lovely buffet-style breakfasts made fresh by the hotel owner. Every day was a different combination of eggs, bread products, fruit, bacon, or other breakfast meat, etc. They made sure to accommodate all food allergies/sensitivities while still giving us a taste of numerous cultural dishes. The watermelon juice was incredible- definitely drink it to stay hydrated. And take your water bottle everywhere you go. It is very hot!
I definitely recommend branching out and trying to get to know almost everyone in the program because each university teaches in a slightly different way and there is a lot we can learn about the field (and about life) from others. Keep a journal and write not just about what you learned, but about how you felt and the progress you and your client made. Do not hold back- say yes to things that scare you. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
I can say that the only real complaint I have is that we did not always follow the itinerary and I feel some things were missing due to COVID. We were unable to complete home visits or conduct speech and hearing screenings which were two things I was really looking forward to. It would have been very educational to see what home life is Iike in Belize, but despite the strict laws surrounding covid in Belize, I feel the program directors did an incredible job making sure our experience was worthwhile.