Toucan Education Programs

Program Reviews

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Nia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Currently, a graduate student studying agribusiness and applied economics. This was not my first time abroad. But compared to my other trip, this was my favorite program. Spending two weeks in Belize was truly a beautiful, unique experience. (It was a trip of a lifetime.) The program and economics course truly shifted my perspective on sustainability and community development. Dr. Metzgen is an amazing teacher and a trailblazer in the Belizean community. I enjoyed the opportunity in doing a service-learning project along with planned site visits to Barton Creek, San Ignacio, and Xunantunich. Looking back on this adventure, the memories I created in Belize has opened doors for me. I was given the opportunity to participate in several workshops and events sharing my story and my experience in Belize.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Always enter a new experience with an open mind and heart....Have zero expectations. Try to get everything the program recommends on the list. I would recommend to future travelers to bring comfort snacks and items to help cope with the stress of being in a new country. I would also bring at least 2 button-down long sleeve shirts and a hat to cover your neck and face the weather in Belize is extremely hot.
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Alexea
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I truly enjoyed my experience in Belize this past summer, without a doubt the study abroad program left a huge impact on me. First, I feel as though I had a tremendous amount of support from the faculty( Ms. Abby, Ms. Rhondine and Mr. Roberto) and our professor, Dr. Metzgen. To have support is very important when traveling to another country for the first time. I loved the planned field trips that we took for example: the iguana conservation project, Barton Creek, San Ignacio market and the Mayan Temples just to name a few places. I can definitely say that when I came back home I was able to bring back memories that I will cherish forever and knowledge that is priceless. I would definitely recommend this program to any student. I hope to be able to come back to Belize soon !

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice for future travelers on this program is to make sure you bring the necessary clothes and items and to keep an open mind. I think many people don't keep an open mind when traveling to other countries and it can have a negative effect on your experience.
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William
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My overall experience was great since it was my first time learning outside the U.S. I enjoyed the planned activities that the program had to offer. I learned a lot from taking the course under Dr. Metzgen about the history of Belize and how Belize looks going into the future with AG and Tourism. We also had the opportunity to go on excursions outside of doing class work which helped us as a group to see how beautiful the country was. My favorite day's were going to Barton creek to go canoeing in a an ancient Mayan cave under mountain and also the day where we had the chance to work with the kids at the local school on teaching them about germs and hygiene. To conclude, I really enjoyed the program as a whole and I would recommend it to students interested in studying abroad.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would change the location where our group stayed at so that we would not have been so isolated.
Response from Toucan Education Programs

Thank you for taking the time to share your review of the program, Will. It was certainly a pleasure having you as a part of the pilot of this program this past summer.

Based on the feedback from yourself and the rest of the pilot group, we have made changes to next year's program regarding housing which will certainly address the concerns you mentioned in your review.

Thank you again. We wish you the best of luck and hope to see you in Belize again soon!

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Jessica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am a first-generation student so going to Belize was both exciting and also made me a bit nervous. From those who picked my group up from the airport, to the director of TEP, everyone ensured I had the necessary tools to have the safest and greatest experience possible. I interned at the Santa Elena Public Library and did presentations in surrounding schools. I was also able to visit South Belize and swim in the Carribean Sea! I made signature dishes alongside Mayan women and did the same with the Garifuna people on their home island. Reciprocity played a huge role in my experience because I gained so much personal and professional growth in return. I made lasting friendships and immersed myself into the beautiful culture of Belize. Thank you for the amazing experience TEP!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
My most nerve-wracking moment was to present in front of so many children in the surrounding schools of Santa Elena. I overcame my fear by giving it my all and going in prepared to teach the youth the information I was there to present. In the end, I was very proud of myself and felt that my fear of presenting in large crowds was a thing of the past.
Read my full story
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DeNari
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I enjoyed my Belize trip. I enjoyed the people that I went with and I made a couple of good friends, some that I still keep in touch with. I really enjoyed the internship and the people I networked with through the internship. I enjoyed the country as a whole. The only problem that I had was the lecture in the beginning from a director and feeling as if I was being treated like a child and I felt that whatever I had to say was deemed as unimportant. I understand that TEP cares about our safety, but there is a way you talk to people and that was not it. Other than that incident, everything else was great, especially the activities where we immersed ourselves within the Belizean culture, it helped improve the quality of my trip. The locals are really nice and welcoming and the food in Belize is amazing.

What would you improve about this program?
Don’t treat the students like children. Talk to the students about the value of their safety, but don’t come off too strong. It felt as if our experiences were being restricted in the beginning because of the way things were said.
Response from Toucan Education Programs

Thanks for your review, DeNari. You certainly made an impact on the Belizean community and we are happy to hear that it made an impact on you.

We also thank you for sharing your feelings on the issue that arose in the beginning regarding the safety of you and your colleagues while on the program.

TEP is dedicated to giving all participants the tools and information needed to have a safe experience on their program. We apologize if you felt the advice we provided came across as too strong.

However, when we have students on our programs, we consider them as part of our family and we never want to have to share bad news with their families back home. We want to ensure that you return home to them in the same way you arrived.

We consider health, safety and security of all participants, our staff and our partners of the utmost importance to us.

Thank you again. We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors and know you are now and will always be a part of the TEP family.

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Elizabeth
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a wonderful experience interning with a domestic violence non-profit organization, Mary Open Doors, in San Ignacio, Belize through Toucan Education Programs. Toucan Education program provided great support to me throughout the extent of my stay, including providing amazing assistance during a conflict involving my living situation (which was completely out of their control). I gained a lot from this experience, including leadership skills, teamwork skills, and an enhanced global perspective. Rhondine from Toucan Education Programs is one of the most dedicated and hard working yet kind and considerate people I've been lucky enough to meet. She runs TEP and puts her heart and soul into making sure the program is a success for students. It is obvious that she puts students before profit. Although I wish the program would have done more activities or trips to the ocean, I would recommend this program to anyone interested in Belize or completing an internship in a really cool country full of nice people, rich culture, and delicious food.

What would you improve about this program?
This program could be improved by TEP making more solid weekend excursions or trips for students. I suggest this because we only went to a few places and the coast of Belize is absolutely amazing and I wish we could've experienced it more. They left it up to us to make our own plans and, due to the unfamiliarity with the region, it was hard to do. This could be resolved if I had looked into the country/fun destinations or activities prior to arriving. Other than that, I have no suggestions for improvement.
ChrisTindle
Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

While the service learning was not academically challenging; that was not the point of this experience. Instead, the time in Belize revolved around experience, cultural identity, and a celebration of others cultural identities. Throughout my stay we visited the San Ignacio Marketplace, we visited Xunatunich, an ancient Mayan Temple, we cooked with Garifuna and Kriol people some of their traditional foods and it was incredible. This, in addition to, we painted classrooms for some of the most joyous kids I've ever seen. They were so full of life and curiosity; very indicative of the Belizean people as a whole. Everywhere we went we were asked as many questions about where we were from as we asked the locals. Overall it was an incredible experience and we did so much more than can be mentioned in a single review.

What would you improve about this program?
I would love to see more of a focus on the Garifuna and Kriol people that inhabit Belize. As a black man; it was very important to see cultural representation outside of the United States. It was very important for me to see people of color outside of the normal standards of the United States. I think it would have been nice to delve deeper into the differences of our black culture versus the Belizean black culture.
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Marquis
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying abroad with TEP was my first time out if the country. My FIRST TIME ON A PLANE. I have always been afraid to fly but I am so glad I tackled that fear this past summer (2018) because the experience was amazing. The diversity of the cultures, the tropical environment, and let us not forget about the FOOD all was great. I cannot wait to go back to Belize. Our endeavors while there gave us real-life experience with people who are different but, everyone there accepted us with one arms. I learned so much more about the world because of this eye opening experience. Ms. Rhondine, Ms. Abbiola, Mr. Roberto, and Ms. Elissa treated our cohort so well. Thank you soooooo much for the opportunity.

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Katie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went as college staff with a group of students and I could not have been more impressed with the support we received and the people that we met. Our students did not want to leave! We made so many connections and memories, and I saw a lot of individual growth in our students-- some of whom had never even traveled on a plane! Wonderful food, top-notch service, and really wonderful people met along every step of the way, from the program providers themselves to the people we were put in contact with. There was something for everyone in this experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has never traveled internationally before as a first experience (though I would recommend it to veteran travelers as well!)

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Kiara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
My experience was of such high value and personalized. I have no suggestions for improvements.