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My Journey to Belize

Jake Catinella '18, Contributor

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This past June, I fulfilled my Junior Community Service requirements by participating in an immersion trip to Belize City, Belize. I worked with twelve BC High classmates, two BC High teachers, and local representatives of Hand in Hand ministries for a week. During this time, we worked alongside a local family and their neighbors to erect a 16 x 24 foot home structure without electricity or water. As we worked together, we endured first-hand challenges, such as nonstop rain while standing in knee-deep mud at the worksite. Another challenge we faced was the language barrier, but despite everyone’s differences we pulled together to provide a home for an impoverished couple and their three-year-old daughter. I got to use a circular saw to cut measurements of wood for siding as well as for the window frames. I also participated in nailing the walls, assembling shutters, and painting the home. Our group blessed the home with a local pastor and welcomed the family to their new beginning.

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Our BC High team also traveled to a Belizean outreach center that provided medical and daycare services to the community. We engaged in a group discussion led by the managing nursing staff that spoke about the severity of HIV/AIDS incidents and care. I enjoyed playing games with the children and sharing stories as we got to know each other. I watched the children show us their arts and crafts, I pretended to cook with the girls using their plastic microwaves, and I played soccer with the boys. My favorite activity was pretending to play a plastic guitar with the boys as we imagined ourselves in a rock band. Later in the week, we visited a newly constructed outreach center. I helped paint the interior top level and used paint rollers to reach the high ceilings. At this location, we also used pickaxes and shovels to dig a path for future plumbing.

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There were many other cultural experiences that we participated in such as attending mass at a local church, visiting the former Mayor of Belize who specialized in woodcarving, watching cultural dancers and dancing with the entertainers, seeing ancient Mayan ruins, and traveling with a local guide who showed us the North and South regions of Belize City and spoke of their struggles. Our next to last day, our group took a water ferry to Caye Caulker where we ate well, enjoyed snorkeling, and reflected together on our activities and service during the week. My journey to Belize is one that is special to me, and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

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The Eyes and Ears of BC High.
My Journey to Belize