Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hello Parents- it looks like the flight out of Miami is delayed! I just spoke with Elizabeth Keim and the group has boarded the plan, but may not be taking off for awhile yet. The most current update has them departing at 9:30 PM, arriving in Chicago at 11:44 PM. You can track the flight on American Airlines website. It's flight number 1361.

Program Coordinator, WLS
Hello Stanley Clark Parents!

I just spoke to George and the crew has safely arrived in Miami. As of now, the flight to Nashville is scheduled on time. If you would like to track it, they are on American Airlines flight number 1361 departing Miami at 7:20 PM and arriving in Chicago at 9:40 PM. Please call us with any questions.

Program Coordinator, World Leadership School

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Snorkeling Pictures

Day 6 - Tobacco Caye

Well, it’s our last day in Belize and I’m pretty sure the kids have mixed emotions about coming home.  While they all miss their families and the comforts of home they have really come to love the country of Belize.  Many of them have asked if we can leave them here!  It has been a fantastic trip and the group has really bonded together nicely. 
Today we woke up and prepared for a full day on the sea.  After breakfast we got into our suits and covered ourselves in sunscreen then it was off to the boat.  We took a 30 minute boat ride to our first snorkeling spot.  About 10 minutes into the snorkel we all saw a nurse shark so they were pretty excited to go searching for more sea life.  We snorkeled for about 45 minutes at the first spot along the reef then we loaded up for the next stop.  Our next stop was another part of the reef but the waves were definitely more intense.  The kids all did a great job not touching the coral or the sea life.  After our second snorkel we headed to South Water Caye to have lunch.  After lunch it was off to the Mangroves.  We walked through a small part of Mangroves before getting back in the boat.  We stopped at Man Of War Caye to see the birds before heading back to the Mangroves to snorkel.  As we were all getting ready to get out of the boat our captain spotted 2 Manatees!  Randall (our WLS guide) attempted to get in the water and photograph them but he didn’t have much luck.  Snorkeling the Mangroves was a different experience but the kids seemed to really enjoy it.  We also had time to just swim around and have a little fun. 
Tonight we will have our last snorkel.  We are going to night snorkel which should be a lot of fun.  Right now the kids have a little free time before dinner and before our last WLS activity.  
Since we are snorkeling tonight and we will have some time in the Tobacco Caye Marine Station with Donald we decided to not have the kids blog.  We know you all look forward to hearing from them but we wanted to let them enjoy their last evening on the Caye.  Know that everyone is doing well and staying safe!  Tomorrow is a big day of travel and we will see you in Chicago around 9:30!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A few pictures from Tobacco Caye

From Aidan

When I think back about what we’ve done/accomplished in the past few days the main thing that comes to mind is the fact that time really does fly. Sure the finishing of the library, or the snorkeling in crystal clear water, or the killing (well actually trembling in fear while our brave Mayan host did the dirty work) of a tarantula is fresh in my head, but what I’ve really come to notice is the joining of a group. We started our trip in the wee hours of a Monday morning as far apart from each other as complete strangers; even though we have been going to school with each other all for countless years. Nevertheless, along this trip we transformed from a group of nervous, but very distant, schoolmates into a group of trusting, diligent young men and women. The projects completed on this trip truly highlight the inner-capabilities of each one of us. We are something more than we were before, and closer than I ever thought possible. We’ve all come together to complete our work, find the leaders in ourselves, and of course, kill the occasional unwanted creature. Despite all of these accomplishments, and our group bonding moments, we are in fact, quite eager to come home. Our work has been completed, and I am ready for the comfort of my own bed.

From Rohit

Hello everyone, the last two days have been great fun. We finished the library and now are on the Caye. We are doing a lot of snorkeling.  I will show you pictures when I return.

From Garrick

Hi everyone, had a great first 3/4 of a day on the Caye! Haven't heard the mail yet so I guess I’ll close.
Proof of life, Garrick R. Meyers

A few more pictures...

Pictures, YEAH!!!

Day five out at Tobacco Caye

This is our fifth day in Belize and what a day it has been.  We had a wonderful breakfast with our hosts, we said our good byes and departed Maya Center.  On our way out of town, we stopped by St. Jude School one last time to say good buy to all the kids and sign our work.  What a magnificent building the library will be once it is finished by the village volunteers.  We boarded the bus and headed off to Dangriga, where we caught our water taxi to Tobacco Caye.  
The ride was a little wet, as the water was choppy but we made it safe and sound.  Once we got settled in, we took a tour of the island with our guide Donald, who works for Tobacco Caye Marine Station. A short while after our lunch, we dawned our snorkeling gear and went around the island, looking at different grasses and the coral reef around Tobacco Caye.  Tomorrow we will take a boat to various islands and explore our snorkeling technique even more!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Hannah

Hannah - Hi everyone. I miss you all and on my legs I got eaten alive and they itch but thats okay because I am enjoying the trip so much and this trip is changing my life! We finished the walls on the library and one part of the roof. I miss you all so much and great wishes to you all.
P.S- Can you tell Donovan that he can blog and give him the address for the website and can you tell him I miss him! Bye.

From Fiona

Fiona - This is your daughter/ sister Fiona. I am writing this from Belize where it is hot, humid, buggy, but extremely lovable. Today I made friends with about fifty cute Belizian children. Also, we gave them toys and toothbrushes and they loved them. I really am not good at nailing so father we should make some small houses. Also dad, I am good or “bien” to your como esta frijole. I am having a great time and hope you are without me! BYE

From Emily

Emily - Hi Family! Thank you all for your comments on my post. It made me happy to hear from all of you. A lot has happened since I last blogged, so I’ll tell you briefly because I’m waiting in line for a shower. On Wednesday we worked on the library and got all of the four walls up. After work for the day we went tubing in a river. It was so much fun and the water was nice and cool. I have over one hundred bug bites. It’s painful and itchy but it’s alright because I’m having a lot of fun! I wear knee-high socks to protect my legs. Today we put in frames for the windows on the library and handed out toys to the kids. It was a wonderful experience and I loved making them happy:) We played duck duck goose at recess and it was SO MUCH FUN. I had no idea that game could be so awesome. After work we toured a cocoa farm and ate cocoa fruit. It doesn’t taste like chocolate AT ALL. It’s fruity and delicious. We also got a chance to grind beans to make chocolate and that was really fun. I love it here and everything is going very well! 

From Julia

Julia - Hi everyone!!! The past few days have been a blast. Today is our last day here in Maya Center. We gave the kids gifts, and they LOVED it! They’re all super sweet and act as if they’ve known us for a long time. At recess, we played duck duck goose with them. It was SO fun!!! After lunch, we went to a cocoa farm and it was so fun. I’ll show you pictures when I see you guys. We learned how to make chocolate the Mayan way! We made all four walls on the library and started on the roof. Yesterday, we went tubing. Tubing here means that you’re in an inner tube floating down a river in the middle of a jungle. My bug bites are very annoying, but the lady here made a home-made remedy that gets rid of bug bites right before your eyes!  One boy (who is the son of the people who own this place) is named Marraquin. he’s SUPER cute and funny! He’s my favorite kid in Belize. Dad- there are a lot of bids here. One is big with a long tail, and is the color of a starling. They’re like a mocking bird. Another type of bird is small and gray on the top, and a vibrant color on the bottom like red or yellow. The most common bird here is: believe it or not, the chicken. You’ll see them wherever you go, along with lots of dogs. Some are even stranger looking than our chicken! Their breed is missing feathers all over. Our group has had a scary+ fun= exciting critter experience. We’ve seen HUGE tarantulas, cockroaches as big as my hand, and other scary weird stuff. One tarantula was on Mr. Phillip’s leg! It was pretty exciting. I’ve bought lots of gifts for everyone except for Dad. What would you like me to bring you? I can’t wait to see you! Tell Daniel to read this, and when we get to Tobacco Caye, I’ll get you the sand that you wanted. Tell Emily to visit the blog! Bye! Love you guys
Love, Julia <3

Day 4 in Belize

Day four in Belize was another amazing day!!  The kids have all done very well this entire trip.  Everyone is getting along and they are all working together really well.  Our time in Maya Center is coming to an end.  Tomorrow after breakfast we will begin the journey to Tobacco Caye.  We are sad to leave the friends we have made in the village but we are excited to get to the island as well.  The last few days are going to go very quickly and we are going to enjoy the time that we have left.  
Don’t worry parents - everyone is wearing lots of sunscreen and lots of bug spray!!  Everyone has stayed very well hydrated and so far we have had no illness.  We are planning on staying that way the rest of the trip.  Thank you all for your wonderful comments and encouraging words on the blog.  The children really enjoyed hearing words from home last night.  
We are sorry about the lack of pictures on the blog.  We have internet at the “hotel” but it is incredibly slow.  It literally took us an hour to upload 4 pictures!!  Once we get to the Caye and we can plug into the internet instead of using wireless we will try to upload more photos.  We know that is what you really want to see and we are very sorry that we have not been able to post more.    

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From Bradley

Hey Genna and Clayton! I guess you aren’t actually reading this, so mom, force them to. It is really really really hot here in Belize, so we always work in the morning and even then it is really hot. There is a small kid here named Marroquin, and he is always around, asking for toys before we hand them out and generally being cute. The wind here on mainland Belize is almost nil and I can’t fly kites. No snakes or scorpions yet, but there have been plenty of tarantulas and they always hang out near our paths and doors making walking at night a little dangerous. Been looking at some of the things Marroquin’s mother sells. There are a lot of herbal remedies for insect bites and sunburn but the best is 100%, homemade cacao bean powder. 
We also went tubing today in some small river. The water was barely 3 inches deep sometimes and gravel soon populated my pockets. Well, gotta wrap this up. Mom, MAKE THEM READ THIS.
Miss you guys.

From Garrick

Hey guys (and girls)!  I’m really enjoying the trip, but I haven’t heard much from you all.  How’s Mary doing?  Mom, Robin’s trip to California?  News on ND?  Tell me everything!
Proof of life no. 1 Garrick R. Meyers
PS: Haha Mom!

From Rohit

This trip has been great. When we first saw the school the library was just a concrete foundation with some cinder blocks along the sides, we first cut about fifty planks, then nailed them together, and eventually made the whole framework for the walls around the school. Tomorrow, our last building day, we will make all the rafters. After we made the walls the school kids came out for recess. We played soccer with them and got thrashed, but it was still fun. We then went to the Jaguar Preserve and went tubing along the river. Overall this trip is turning out to be great.

From Aidan

OH. MY. GOSH. Best tubing experience of my life!!!!! I can’t decide what my favorite part was, the four inch bug in my shirt, the rocks rubbing against my butt, the constant shivering, or the time I flipped out of my tube. It was an interesting experience to say the least. All sarcasm aside, however, I was very proud of the group effort in putting up the framework for the library in one and half work days. We cut over 48 pieces of wood(we being the kids, not the grownups) and nailed countless nails into them. After that we put it all together and we now have the framework up for our four walls. All in all, with the help of the various people here at the Maya Center our experience has been very enjoyable. And although I miss you all dearly, I don’t miss home itself in the slightest. 

Day 3 in Belize

Today was another great day!  The students were able to finish constructing the walls of the library.  The library now has all four walls up!  Tomorrow, the students will finish bracing the walls and get the rafters assembled.  Then the adults will put the rafters up.  The students are doing great with setting goals and achieving them everyday.  After the walls were set up, the kids had a chance to interact with the students at St. Jude School.  The kids either played soccer, tag, or tried to fly a kite.  Believe it or not, their has been a breeze and clouds while we have been here.  This has made the weather more bearable than in years past.  
After lunch, we went to the Jaguar Preserve to go tubing down the river.  One of our guides, Peter, was able to tell us all about the wildlife along the river and along our hike to the river.  While on the river, the students also worked in groups to rescue Peter and myself.  All in all, the kids had fun and learned a lot about leadership.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pictures from our first two days

From Emily

Hi family! We made it to Belize and it’s REALLY fun here! It’s also hot but it’s okay because I am drinking a lot of water. Yesterday we got to the hotel at a late hour and got our rooms. The girls have a room with two bunk beds and it’s very cozy. We had a really good dinner and the owners of the hotel talked to us about themselves. They have a son named Marquin and he is very funny and cool. He is in second grade. Today we went to the school here and started to work on the library. It was fun to be able to build something, even though I messed a lot of things up. (We got them fixed.) Pineapple is very good here. Everything is going very well. I love you guys!!! ~Emily

From Fiona

Hello my family this is Fiona. I am having fun in Belize. I might miss you but i probably don’t. I can’t really tell because I am having loads of fun. We put up our first wall thingy foundation thingy and i hope you are proud daddy! I did it with help but i did it! I am eating food that tastes good along with airport jelly bellys!( Juicy Pear!) No worries mother i am wearing sunscreen!=D I will see you Sunday in the night time dad. see everyone else in Florida! I think! If you need to know any other information read someone else’s blog thingy. P.S. some people just saw a snake. Thank you for reading brothers... Haha just kidding they probably didn’t read it. BYEEEEEEEEE!

From Julia

Hi guys, here in Belize, it’s so beautiful!!! The birds are singing all day long, there are huge palm trees which are bigger than any other trees at home, and it isn’t as hot as I expected. We are all at the Maya Center right now. At the school, we are building a library from the ground up. We had to measure and cut 48 boards. Also, we made one wall so far! I’m so excited for the rest of the week and to see you guys! Later on, we’ll go snorkeling at Tobacco Key. See you soon!!!!!!!

From Hannah

Hey family, how’s life in the United States because it is awesome here is Belize. I miss you guys so much and hope that you are all doing great. In Belize today we built the first wall on the library! I am so excited to finish the library and I am looking forward to going snorkeling on the Island. Miss you guys and love you all so much. See you soon! 

We made it!

We made it to Belize!  After one long day of travel we all arrived safely in Belize.  The kids were very excited to finally be in the country and get things started.  After we cleared customs (without any problems) we met up with Peter, one of our guides for the trip.  We loaded up our luggage and we were on our way to Maya Center.  The drive to Maya Center is about 3 hours so we had plenty of time to relax in the bus.  We arrived in Maya Center, got settled in our rooms and headed to the dining hall for dinner.  Even though it was only 6:30 in Belize, the kids were pretty wiped out.  We had a brief introduction from Ernesto and Aurora, the owners of the hotel we are staying at.  We de-briefed as a group and talked about some of the fears that we were facing this week.  We talked about safety and expectations then it was off to our rooms.  Lights out was at 9:00 and everyone was ready for some much needed rest. 
This morning we were up bright and early to get ready before breakfast.  After breakfast we met Jen and Mac who are leading the service project at the St. Jude’s School.  We covered ourselves in bugspray and sunscreen and headed over to the school.  Once we were there the kids pulled all of the supplies we needed out of the building and we began working on the library.  The group that was here two weeks ago laid the foundation for the building so we could start framing right away.  Everyone worked to cut down 48 two by fours to use for the frame.  Before we left for the morning we managed to get one wall completed framed and up.  The kids were excited to see progress and they all wanted to come back after lunch to finish.  Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to finish framing the walls. 
This afternoon we are headed to the Mayan Museum to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Mayan people.  It should be a great experience for everyone.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hello Parents,

This is Ross Wehner from World Leadership School writing to say I just spoke with Elizabeth Keim and the group is on the bus traveling to Maya Centre. The adventure has begun! If you have any questions, please call (303) 679-3412.

Thanks, Ross Wehenr