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Monday, September 25, 2017

Global Cultural Experience: Belize

SDSU students in Belize
Gud maanin! And Weh yuh naym?

That’s what a group of San Diego State University students likely heard when Belizeans wished them good morning and ask them their name in Kriol, one of the languages spoken in Belize.

Nineteen SDSU students chose the Central American country, where English is the official language but bilingualism is common, to fulfill their Liberal Studies International Experience Requirement.

During their 10-day visit, the group of students had the unique opportunity to learn about the Belizean education system and how science and math are taught in Belize. Students also got to work with local teachers to plan and facilitate a two-day math and science camp for Belizean children.

“From volunteering at local elementary schools to cave tubing, the Belize trip was an adventure I would truly like to experience again,” said Marisa Balanon, who is in her third year of study as a Liberal Studies major.

Balanon said she decided to go to Belize because of her love for travel and the rich Mayan history.

“Out of all our journeys, the most exciting was being able to explore the ruins of Xunantunich, a Mayan site a short drive away from the village we stayed at,” said Balanon, adding that following graduation, I hope to take the global mindset that I have been developing since Belize into the classroom in order to create a learning environment that appreciates diversity and tolerance.”

The Liberal Studies in Belize program, takes place every Spring Break and is based in the small Mayan Village of San Jose Succotz and includes excursions to various locations. Students stayed with local host families for most of the program. The program is only open to Liberal Studies students at SDSU.

“Having gone to Belize, I feel very comfortable telling Liberal Studies students to go abroad,” said Dr. Virginia Loh-Hagan, who led the trip and is the Coordinator of Liberal Studies in the College of Education’s School of Teacher Education.  “I think the international experience is life changing. It's a great way for our students to get out of their comfort zones, learn about other cultures, and develop a global mindset.”