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Veterinary Practices Study Abroad Program in Belize by Holly Diamond, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Major

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Posted: November 26, 2018

"Prior to enrolling in college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad either for a semester or during my summer break. For my first study abroad trip, I decided to choose a short-term program that would be held over summer break."
my group and I on a ferry crossing a river after spending the day at Xunantunich Archaeological Reserve.

my group and I on a ferry crossing a river after spending the day at Xunantunich Archaeological Reserve.

My name is Holly Diamond and I am a sophomore at The Pennsylvania State University- University Park, Pennsylvania. I am majoring in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. Prior to enrolling in college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad either for a semester or during my summer break. For my first study abroad trip, I decided to choose a short-term program that would be held over summer break. After hours of personal online research, I came across the Center for Engaged Learned Abroad (C.E.L.A) Large Animal Veterinary Practices in the Tropics: A two-week study abroad program. The program held in Central America seemed to be just what I was looking for; there would be many hands-on experiences not available to me in the United States. I traveled from my home in Pennsylvania to Belize on May 12, 2018.  It was my first time traveling abroad alone and I did not know anyone else participating in this program. Within my first couple of days I was involved in surgeries on live cats and dogs for spays and neuters that were held at Paws Animal Clinic founded by Dr. Tesecum.

Throughout my two-week experience, my group and I learned about Belize and the species we would be working on including cats, dogs, cattle, swine, horses, and sheep. Each day was packed with many experiences that I will never forget. One of my favorite experiences was castrating a sheep. The students teamed up into pairs to castrate each sheep with the help of Dr. Tesecum and his brother Ruben. This is an example of an experience that I would not be able to find in the United States where an undergraduate student performs surgeries on live animals.

Another one of my favorite experiences was volunteering at the Placencia Humane Society. Our group traveled three hours by van from San Ignacio to Placencia. Local residents were invited to bring their dogs and cats in to be spayed or neutered and to be given physical examinations. We also drove around the area in the back of a truck to bring local dogs to the humane society. There are many stray dogs in Belize. 

It was nice to spend the weekend in Placencia so that we could take a break from the hard work we were doing and go into the ocean.  We traveled by boat to the Laughing Bird Caye, where we swam in the ocean and went on a guided snorkeling tour in the Belize Barrier Reef.

I met wonderful friendly people from all across the United States during my study abroad trip. We are still in communication through social media. Studying abroad in a developing country has exposed me to a different culture than the United States and different techniques necessary in a country with very limited resources.  It was a wonderful opportunity and I hope to participate in more study abroad programs in the future.