Saturday, May 30, 2009

Week One in Belize

This past week has been a week of firsts for sure. I traveled to a foreign country further than Mexico, experienced an earthquake, learned the importance of an electric fan, and how much nature and the environment means to Belizeans.

I arrived in Belize in the early afternoon and was met by Rafael, my supervisor, Kristi and Charles, two people who really encouraged me to take this opportunity. We discussed some of the logistics of FCD while driving towards San Jose Succotz, my home for the next two months. We stopped at the Belize Zoo to see some its National Treasures, such as the Scarlet McCaw and the Tapir. I was amazed by how the zoo was designed to replicate the animal’s natural habitat. I thought it was pretty awesome that Rafael has his roots for Environment from working at the Belize Zoo. After our short stop I made it to Succotz, where I met my host family. Ms. Olivia, her daughter Tanya, and son Emile will be my family for this summer. I live in a house across from the Catholic primary school in the village.

The next day I went with Kristi and Charles to see the area a little bit. We made a special trip to Clarissa Falls for a swim. The river seems to be the only escape from the heat, plus a frozen ideal. (an ideal is similar to an otter-pop, just jumbo sized)I was also able to try ceviche for the first time while there, it was very tasty. Following the visit to Clarissa Falls we made a special trip to see Xunantunich. I help crank the car-ferry across the river. I was amazed at how extraordinary the ruins are. Unfortunately I realized that I have a fear of heights once I was at the top. The view was definitely worth it though.

After playing for my first three days and getting accustomed to the way things work, I began work on Wednesday. I attended a workshop, Wednesday and Thursday, which was held to strengthen the bond between Belizean's and Guatemalans. The Chiquibul runs on both sides of the border and it takes dual effort in order for its preservation to take place. The workshop went quite well, as we learned techniques a community facilitator should use and different ways to run a program such as FCD.

Thursday began early in the morning after being shaken awake by the earthquake from Honduras. I’ve been teased for barely noticing what was going on and just going back to sleep. After work on Thursday I went to see Miss Olivia’s Library, The Succotz Learning Center. It is piled high with books with a wide variety of subjects. Students can be found there working on their projects for school in the early evening.

Friday brought to light another aspect of FCD, the environmental education side. I shadowed Pedro Chan as he made a trip to Tea Kettle village to promote the Green Wave Project. This month FCD is completing a promotional event called Re-Greening Belize. FCD is planting trees at area schools and teaching the importance that they hold. The students at Tea Kettle were very receptive and excited to assist in the planting of the trees. That evening I was asked to assist with the 2009-2010 Miss Succotz pageant. It was a lot of fun and all the proceeds for the event go toward fixing up the school.

My first week in Belize has been both insightful and exciting. I really enjoy the people of Belize; they are very kind and extremely generous. They are also some of the happiest people I have met. I look forward to the weekend as I prepare to enjoy some downtime in front of my fan. I pray that everyone back home is doing well and staying busy. Thank you so much for your continued support.I am having some difficulty uploading pictures from my first week so I will be emailing them to my mom, Dr. Seevers and Morgan Nelson. If you wish to see them please contact one of them or check my facebook. I hope to have this problem resolved by Tuesday of next week.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Whats the Deal?

For everyone following my journey this summer, I have prepared a brief description of the organization I will be working with this summer. I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received regarding my internship and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you along the way.

This summer I am embarking on an internship in the heart of Belize where I will be working directly with the organization “Friends for Conservation and Development” or “FCD”. According to their website “FCD is a non-profit, non-governmental organization in Belize, dedicated to motivate the public to protect the environment through conservation awareness while enhancing the development of the human resource.”

The FCD headquarters reside in San Jose Succotz, a community located not far from the Guatemalan-Belize border. The organization has been in existence since 1989 and conducting environmental conservation activities. They also strive to promote civic pride among Belizeans.

In addition, FCD is part of a co-management program with the Forest Department for the protection of the Chiquibul National Park. The Chiquibul National Park is comprised of 264,003 acres of tropical rainforest. They are also responsible for the co-management of the Chiquibul Cave system, the longest cave system in Central America. FCD also plays a large role in the integration and comprehensive management program of the Chiquibul-Maya Mountain Massif which is comprised of 14 protected areas.

The motto FCD follows is Promoting Core Conservation.

The Main Objectives of FCD include:
• To foster environmental conservation action
• To promote civic pride and respect for our natural heritage
• To promote an understanding of the natural world
• To improve management of protected areas
• To develop the human potential through conservation work
• To integrate local community participation
• To develop collaborative networking

To find out more about Friends for Conservation Development click on the link below.