During the first two weeks of July I participated in an Agribusiness Summer Program in Belize through NC A&T State University and Toucan Education Programs of Belize. The program is designed for graduate students to travel to Belize to promote cultural awareness amongst students and assist farmers in a developing country.
We were immersed in several different cultures and learned about agriculture in Belize. When we arrived, we met David Hernandez (Our right hand man) and Ramone (our driver for the entire two weeks) at the airport. Throughout this program, our entire group became attached to these two wonderful men who are full of life, talents, and have some the best personalities I’ve ever encountered. Once we arrived in San Ignacio we had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Rhondine, the Creator and CEO of Toucan Education Programs of Belize and Elissa, the program director. Words can’t express how professional, inspiring, and hard working these two women were. I’m so blessed to have met and developed relationships with them.
The first day there we went to the zoo and learned about the different animals that are found in Belize. Then the next day, we went on a boat tour of the Macal River. Our guide, Mr. Lewis was amazing, comical, and pushed us to hike a couple of miles until we reached the Frio Rio Waterfall, which was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen. I used to call individuals that would go through such heights to see things like a waterfall crazy. Now, I’m one of those crazy people! Later that week, myself and the other students had the opportunity to meet with some local Mayan farmers in San Antonio, Belize. We helped them in their daily activities and were able to give them supplies that they needed for their farms. However, one thing that really bothered me was the fact that one bag of seeds is approximately $150 when we can go to our local Walmart store and purchase those same seeds for $3. Isn’t that ridiculous? These farmers get little to no help and the policies on seed in Belize are very strict. In addition, any seed that comes through Belize has to be tested before they use them on their land. Later, we visited the Mayan ruins and toured a chocolate farm where we learned how to make chocolate bars from scratch.
I cherished every moment, obstacle, and person I encountered during my time there. Honestly, I didn’t want to come back to the USA for a while because as soon as you get off of that plane reality smacks you in the face. But, I came back home with an open mind and determined to complete this internship, finish my last semester of graduate school, and obtain a job by the end of the year. Being abroad taught me that I need to believe in myself, leave negativity where it’s at, and to continue being open-minded because it will take me far in life. Through this experience I learned a lot about myself that was hidden underneath fear this whole time. Now I see that there’s nothing to fear when you have a positive mindset and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Belize is a great place to travel because everyone there speaks English in addition to their native languages. Some of the other languages spoken in Belize are Creole, Spanish, Mayan, and Garifuna. I would greet Ramone everyday in Spanish and instantly I became sad because I felt like I should have taken Spanish courses in undergrad because I was so good at Spanish in high school. But, I was surprised at how easily the Spanish I knew came back when I would engage in conversation with Ramone. However, I became very good at speaking creole which is broken English. Also, the food is amazing! I can’t tell you how many times the crew and I went to CRAVE because of the hummus and bread. Also, I’m addicted to Sorrel Juice which comes from a hibiscus plant that you have to boil in order to get the juice out of it. There are so many great things I could say about Belize but I’ll stop here.
This is my first week back on the job after being in Belize. When I arrived to the office I was pleased to see Mr. Ron Joines from the Leasing Department. I met him earlier this summer when the departmental overview day was held at the Statesville Administration Office. We chatted about school, career opportunities, and how to overcome procrastination. Well, at least try to anyway! My time here at Carolina Farm Credit is slowly coming to an end. I’m so appreciative of Ms. Sarah and Mr. Fred for allowing me to travel to Belize for the experience of a life time and still allowing me to have my internship when I returned. I’m surrounded by great individuals that motivate and support me every day. I’m proud to say that this was a great way to spend my summer!
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