Posted: September 14, 2020

“Always be willing to try something new and if it fails all is well at least you tried”-Belizean Farmer

Mother and daughter are making fresh tortillas in the Maya village we lived in.

Mother and daughter are making fresh tortillas in the Maya village we lived in.

Eight days.  Eight incredible days with seven other amazing students in beautiful Belize.  My classmates and I took part in the AEE 499: Indigenous Knowledge and Agricultural Education class to gain knowledge on the importance of indigenous knowledge and its role in agricultural education.  A few of the highlights of the trip were touring several different farms, teaching a lesson plan while touring one the schools, and spending a few days in a Mayan village.  Eight life changing days!

While exploring Belize we had the opportunity to visit a variety of farms.  We toured traditional Mayan farms, Mennonite farms, a banana plantation, and a chocolate farm.  Each one of these different tours shined a new light on what we viewed agriculture as.  The owners were extremely proud of what they were growing and were over the moon excited to share their knowledge with us.  Going into the trip my classmates and I never expected to have seen all the amazing systems that we did in Belize. We definitely didn’t expect to drink straight from a coconut! One of the lessons that I learned while in Belize was spoken by a Mennonite farmer. He said, “Always try something new and if you fail all is well at least you tried.”  This lesson is one that I will carry with me for a very long time and will always try something new because at least I tried!

Another highlight of the trip was presenting a lesson to a group of students while in Belize.  Before traveling my classmates and I prepared a rock star lesson plan titled, “Telling Our Story of Agriculture.”  Our goal was to share with the students a model that would allow them to more effectively share their knowledge that they gained in school.  The model that we used was the “SUCCES-S” model which stands for Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotion Striking, Story, and a modification of Strong.  While teaching the lesson we asked students to be interactive in a question and answer format.  However, unknown to us most of the students struggled to communicate in English.  We quickly had to employ our problem-solving skills and come up with a creative way to overcome the language barrier.  We had decided to split students up into smaller groups to encourage teamwork among themselves to share their ideas with us.  Our plan worked!  This experience helped to further develop my soft skills of effective communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. 

The last major section of the trip was spending three days living in a Mayan village.  To say this experience pushed us outside of our comfort zones may be an understatement.  Common things like light switches, running water, etc. were brand new to the Mayan people.  However, none of that matter to them; they were proud. Proud of their village, crops, and culture.  This sense of pride carried over into their hospitality.  Every morning and evening some of the children would come to the guest house and take us back to their homes and we would all share a meal together.  The sense of warmth and comfort that was felt by all was a beautiful feeling to have.  The Mayan people reminded us that you can live very simply and still have exactly what you need.

Eight days in Belize has changed my life forever and for the better.  I learned to appreciate the small things, that communication comes in many forms, and never be afraid to try something new.  I was able to build upon my soft skills and gain experience teaching.  The experiences I have gained by interacting with a very diverse group of students will help me in the future become a better teacher.  It reminded me that each and every person has a story that is ready to be heard and valued.  I wish I could have stayed in Belize longer.  I will forever appreciate the people, the food, the culture, and the country! You better Belize I will be back!

International Programs

Address

106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

International Programs

Address

106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802