Monday, May 21, 2012

Workshops and Travels in Belize

This has been a month of working with kids and conducting workshops with teachers.  I had developed a routine of sorts, working specific days with my four schools, but that routine was rearranged because of invitations to conduct workshops in numerous schools to which I had not previously been assigned.  Over the last nine months I have gathered ideas and materials from various sources, mostly from Belizean teachers who are very creative in developing materials for use in their classrooms with limited teaching resources.  “Making Literacy Come Alive” was the title of one of my workshops, a make-it-take-it session in which teachers brought paper, cardboard, glue, markers and scissors and made interactive materials for use in their classrooms.  We focused on reading instruction theory for half of the workshop, and then developed handmade materials during the remainder of the session.
 Make-it-take-it workshops

I have also continued with the family literacy workshops at Bella Vista, working with mostly monolingual Spanish-speaking parents to increase their knowledge of early child development and preparation for school.  Some of the mothers are Maya, but they are all fluent in English.   In one of the women’s favorite sessions, we made sock puppets for them to use with their children.

Since my last blog post I have had opportunities to spend two weekends at a couple of areas in Belize that were new to me.  In April I stayed with friends at Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.  We floated along on a canoe tour down the Sibun River with a guide who spotted more birds, iguanas and mammals than I would have ever managed to see on my own. 

 Katrin O'Leary, Barbara Levy, me and Linda Manning swimming in the Sibun River
Spiny iguana
The Great Kiskadee, Belize's Flycatcher

On May 18 I traveled to the southern-most district in Belize, Toledo, for the annual Cacao Fest.  This region is fast becoming a major cacao growing region and many of the cacao growers and chocolate business owners used this occasion to showcase their products.  On the evening of the 18th a number of us Peace Corps Volunteers lent our services as waiters and waitresses and food preparers at a Wine and Chocolate dinner at Coral House Inn.  Fortunately, the hours we worked paid off with tastes of luscious chocolate, wine and Belizean food.  As you can see from the photos, we were amply rewarded.

Peace Corps Volunteers serving at the Wine and Chocolate Night
Maya women make corn tortillas on the comal for the Wine and Chocolate Night
Roasted cacao seeds on the left, cacao pods on the right
Peace Corps Volunteer Melissa Ng showing her project helping to establish a cacao museum in Punta Gorda
Peace Corps Volunteer, Megan Wiseman, who works with Belize Rural Finance Programme training young entrepeneurs
Maya musicians playing the marimba
Creole singer
Barbara, me and Katrin in Punta Gorda
The following day we were treated to a lovely day strolling around the town, enjoying the Cacao Fest, a kind of fair on the streets of Punta Gorda.  We wandered through booths with Maya handicrafts, jewelry, chocolate concoctions, advertisements for NGOs that assist with rural development, and even a booth sponsored by Belikin, the national beer of Belize, that sold chocolate stout just for the occasion. We listened to music from various cultural groups in Belize:  Maya marimba music, Garifuna  and Creole drums, Belizean punta rock.  We visited Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory and learned about the manufacturing of chocolate.   It was a delicious weekend!
My favorite tree in Belize:  the flamboyant
My favorite sunrise in Belize


  1. Gorgeous! Also, I love the sock puppets. You always make learning fun.

  2. It’s never too early to think about the Third Goal. Check out Peace Corps Experience: Write & Publish Your Memoir. Oh! If you want a good laugh about what PC service was like in neighboring Honduras back in the 1970’s, read South of the Frontera: A Peace Corps Memoir.