Belize: Day 4


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Monday was not my day to present so my roommate and I decided to explore the town and volunteer at the local public library.  Let me preface this by saying - I have not ridden a bike in 28 years.  They say that once you learn to ride a bike that you never forget.  I don't know who the they is, but they should have clarified a bit more.

I did get my bike today and ride into town with it.  I ran into a fence or two, almost fell on passersby, and yelled out a few times.  The thing is, bike riders ride alongside cars and golf carts.  The roads quickly change from dirt to gravel to stones.  You know I'm not a quitter.  I wasn't raised that way.  So, I made it with the encouragement of my roommate and an accompanying professor.  I have the bumps and bruises to prove it.  But you know what fascinated me is that the passersby were very helpful.  At one point, a man yelled, "kickstand, kickstand" because my kickstand had fallen down and was dragging the road as I rode.  I love the hospitality here!

At the public library, of course I was fascinated by the collections of donated books and the activities that the children completed, but what stood out to me most was the passion for books expressed by the assistant librarian.  When she recounted various books that she had read, you could see the light in her eyes.  You could sense her thirst for more literature.  I could only imagine what more she could do for herself and her community if she only had access to more resources.  Here, although there are students who are voracious readers, most ELA teachers that I know have to beg their students to read.  Administrators even offer prizes for those who meet their AR goal each quarter.  And on the other side of the world, there is this deep appreciation for what many in the U.S. take for granted.  While the assistant librarian was speaking, I started brainstorming activities that my students can participant in to become more globally aware and to find ways to look beyond the walls of their own circumstances to help others.

I gained a different level of appreciation today.  Every time I've eaten with a group, the waiters have put all the orders on the same tab.  Some were paying in Belize dollars while others paid in US dollars.  It seemed that we spent more time trying to figure out how to properly convert our funds than actually ordering and eating.  I remember at one point slowly handing the clerk a $5 US dollar while trying to see if that would cover the bill that was given to me in Belize dollars and cents.  The clerk was very helpful.  At that point I became even more empathetic towards immigrants in the US who get confused while trying to pay for groceries.  Many times I've seen adults and children handing over their money, not knowing how to properly determine if they had enough or needed more.  It's those times when you can feel vulnerable in another country; needing help, but hoping that no one is trying to take advantage of you.  I believe now I will be a bit more attentive and be more assertive in helping others.

Learning something new each day,

3 comments:

  1. You are having quite the adventure there! I'm glad you survived the bike riding. I haven't been on one in years myself and would probably be a bit of a mess too. :) It must be neat to volunteer in a library in another country. That does sound a little complicated when paying the restaurant bills!

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  2. It's so neat to read about your adventure in Belize! And getting on a bike after all that time. You are one tough cookie. : ) Do I see a bike in your future when you get home? Keep on enjoying your trip!

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  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful adventure on the trip.

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