My first year in the Peace Corps has been a year of tremendous personal growth for me. Yes, it has been a year since I arrived in Belize. Our 2011 group of 35 Peace Corps Volunteers celebrated our one year anniversary on March 24. There were days during this past year when I felt that time was moving so slowly, that it had almost stopped; when I felt boredom or loneliness or homesickness that threatened to send me running back to the United States. But surviving those difficult times and immerging on the other side has made me stronger, and as I begin my second year here, I am beginning to feel that I am actually helping a few teachers and kids. Teachers are beginning to ask me for help and suggestions, and principals are requesting that I facilitate workshops for their teachers. It has taken a long time to establish rapport in the schools and I have enjoyed getting to know the teachers and the children in their classes. I find myself applying ideas and methods that I learned as a young teacher so many years ago, and adapting games and techniques that I used when teaching homeschoolers. It feels like so many of my previous experiences as a teacher, a mother and a human being are all coming together for me to draw upon for my work and my life here in Belize. I sometimes consider myself the luckiest Peace Corps Volunteer in the world.
Leading a workshop on teaching reading for the teachers of Stann Creek District
The past two weeks have been Easter Vacation and school has been closed. I feel refreshed and reinvigorated to begin my work again with teachers and students here in Belize. The first week of vacation I spent with two of my wonderful Peace Corps Volunteer friends, Kathryn O’Leary and Barbara Levy. They traveled from their sites to stay with me for a few days and we planned workshops together. We also took the opportunity to swim in the Sea and hike the trails of Cockscomb Nature Preserve. It was marvelous to share ideas and inspiration with two experienced teachers who work in the same area of literacy as I do.
During the second week of Easter Vacation my sister-in-law, Lynn Bryant, came to enjoy her own Belize adventure here with me. As soon as she arrived, we took a water taxi out to Caye Caulker, and spent Easter weekend there with many other Belizeans escaping the heat and enjoying the sea breezes. We feasted on fresh grilled fish and snorkeled in the Barrier Reef.
Lynn and I ate grilled hogfish
Lynn experienced the real Belize while bouncing along the Western and Hummingbird Highways in the hot, crowded bus for three hours on our way from Belize City to Dangriga. We spent a few days in my little town and swam in the Sea at the Pelican.
Relaxing at the Pelican
Then we ventured to the Cayo District to an Eco Lodge so that Lynn could experience the jungle of Belize. We went on a night-time nature walk and saw scorpions, tarantulas, a fox, opossum and a bird called the blue-crowned mot mot. We took an early morning bird-watching walk and saw two kinds of toucans, woodpeckers, owls and many other birds indigenous to Belize. We also visited a butterfly farm and saw all the stages of the Blue Morpho butterfly, the national butterfly of Belize.
The Blue Morpho butterfly
These past two weeks with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and my beloved sister-in-law have renewed my energy and inspired me to continue my work here in Belize.