During the 2nd semester of my MAT program, I lost my grandmother, whom had adopted me. After that, keeping up with my daily demands had become so hard. I was used to being ambitious, but that mourning process truly slowed me down.
The moment I arrived to Belize, I started to lift out of that fog. The beautiful flowers and birds created my very own fairy tale. My guide, David, showed me how to bird watch as we were leaving the airport. Already, that one experience taught me how to patiently open my eyes to experience the world around me. I hadn't even made it the apartment yet.
I ate daily at Erva's Restaurant. I looked forward to getting off from my Internship just to hang out. Any time I felt homesick, I knew I could walk into Erva's and feel right at home.
I transitioned from taking a cab to walking. I thought about it for a long time, but wasn't brave enough to try it until one day one of my students walked passed me on her way to school dressed in her uniform. She waved, smiled, and said, "Mornin Miss!". So, I quit waiting for a taxi and walked with her. That morning, I saw how beautiful Belize was. As the people slowly hurried for work, walking to and fro. Neighbors, mothers, and sons were all dressed in their best and you got a sensation that made you ready to contribute to helping this town develop. I walked every morning after that. And every morning, I had time with myself, time with God, time with nature, and the best smiles and "Mornins" I could ask for. I was connected with the universe. I was at peace. The more I walked the more I felt at home because I would see the same faces everyday.
It was interesting working in Belize. I faced challenges that have made my job in the states a piece of cake. As a student teacher, I was faced with adjusting to not having technology, and working in the heat, plus keeping students engaged. I was so determined to be an effective educator, and impressed by the creativity of the culture, that I learned how to be creative and problem solve. This has been the most valuable skill that has helped me in my professional development. I became so in tune with nature and the universe. Through the excursions that took me on ancient reserves and through caves, I realized just how long civilization has existed. From this, I gained tranquility as I accepted that my journey is just that, a journey. I wanted to always feel that sense of tranquility and gratitude, so I practiced keeping it with me at all times.
St. Ignatius was also a huge part of my experience. My co-workers went out of their way to ensure that I enjoyed the land and culture the way they do everyday. I was spoiled with love, support, rich cultural knowledge and awakening history. They explained so much about their culture to me without taking any offense to my questions. I was sent off with a beautiful cake and a funny video of it being smashed in my face. I couldn’t ask for a better work experience.
Mrs. Rhondine Petrof, was the best support system I could have asked for during my first time abroad. She often took time out of her busy schedule just to ask how I was doing. She was an excellent listener and validated my emotions, always offering support and advice. Any turbulence I experienced, Mrs. Rhondine took initiative as if it was happening to her. I felt very safe. Her ultimate goal was for me to have a high value experience of the culture, I did just that. I have not once regretted this experience. I plan to visit the friends and family I made there as soon as possible. It really was a dream come true!