Monday, April 21, 2014

The History of ISLP

Learn about the history of the International Service Learning Program at the University of Louisville from the former Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Tom Jackson.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ISLP Belize 2014 Video

Want to learn about ISLP Belize and what it's like to be a member of the service team?

Check out their video!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Elementary School in Felicity

Working in a local school is one of the unique experiences when it comes to the ISLP program. On my first trip to Croatia this was the aspect that we were expected to focus on and was the center of the curriculum. Being that the Trinidad trip was university focused I knew the experience was going to be totally different. When we began to discuss the possibility of working in a Trinidad primary school I had no idea what to expect. During our planning process this was not something that we seemed to focus on because the plans were still being put into motion. We walked up to the tiny two story school in the middle of one of the “Trini” neighborhoods with a vague plan and a few materials knowing we had no real clue what we had gotten in to.

Our presence was instantly discovered as the “Trini” students began to crowd around the doorways to study their new visitors. This is when I became excited. I do not want to make a career out of working with children but there is something about the experience that I find rewarding and enriching. The excitement in their eyes and their incredible curiosity gives me energy. When we walked into the classroom you could tell the students did not know what to expect. Awkward is probably the best way to describe how the presentation started. Nine college age students in the front of a small classroom attempting to get 17 middle school-aged students to participate in a large group discussion was just not going to work, a quick change of tactics was needed. This move was a testament to how versatile this particular group is, the transition was smooth. We all split up and took a small group of students to talk to, mine (all boys) seemed confused as to the purpose of the visit. After a slow start they began to open up, and once they did all of my excitement about the school was reaffirmed.

We discussed sports, food and just life at a basic level. I was with these kids for only a short amount of time but by the end of our conversation I had made four new friends. I saw a distinct switch in their comfort level when they began to accept me as someone they approved of; when this happened I did not want to leave. The timing of our departure was interesting because my boys wanted to spend more time with me. The bell for recess rang and the four of them remained in the room trying to convince me to come play soccer with them.

The four boys and how easily they accepted me is a memory I will keep with me because for a short period of time I got to learn and interact with individuals who, hopefully, were affected in some way by my presence there. This is what ISLP is about; it is about being able to have an impact, however small, on someone else.  

My mom is an elementary school principal in Frankfort. It meant a lot to me to be able to take a small piece of her school to this school in Trinidad. 

Drew Lail
College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year
University of Louisville ISLP

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Experiencing the Culture

The 2014 ISLP Trinidad and Tobago trip was truly amazing! Leading up to our departure, we had several opportunities to reflect on the different events that took place each day. The moments when we were able to immerse ourselves into the culture stood out the most to me. On Tuesday, March 11th, Chandar Supersad, from the University of the West Indies (St.Augustine) took us on a tour and explained the history of the area. We visited the Temple in the Sea, saw the tallest statue of Hanuman outside of India, and even tried raw sugarcane. Everything was so colorful and beautiful!

Our next stop was to a restaurant called Fresh Foods, and Roti was on the menu. 

If you ask anyone what you should try if you visit Trinidad and Tobago, they will recommend this local item (including Doubles which we were able to try as well later on during our trip). It was delicious! It was awkward at first for us because we had to use our fingers to eat but we adapted quickly. This day was one of the many activities that exposed us to the country's culture. Overall, I had a wonderful time and created memories with everyone that will last a lifetime. Now that we are back in Louisville, I am very grateful for the experience and the people that accompanied us on the trip. A special thank you to Ms. Shirley, Ms. Pam, Alex, and Dr. Cuyjet! 

Kristia Worthy

College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 2nd Year
~University of Louisville International Service Learning Program 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Last night I was a taught a word by a lovely lady named Sarah-Petal. The word is "tabannca" (pronounced tah-bahn-cuh). According to Sarah-Petal this is a word that Trinidadians use to describe the feeling you get after a closure in your life.  The feeling that you need to go back to it, that you won't be the same without it. A longing for that part of your life that is now finished. She explained it in the context of a romantic relationship, but it really has become the only way to explain how I feel right now sitting in the Houston airport.


 We have arrived back in the United States after a week that I can not adequately put into words. ISLP for me started as a way to experience a new culture and to finally do something over spring break.  As an undergraduate I lived in Florida, so a week at the beach for spring break has never meant much to me. This week was so much more than I expected. I was blown away by Trinidad and Tobago. From the beautiful sunsets, to the remarkable hospitality and attention to detail, and everything in between.

It's hard to decide which thing was my favorite. I think I have changed my answer to that question more times than I can count. I feel truly honored to have been a part of Dr. Cuyjet's final ISLP trip as a professor (check out the picture of Dr. Cuyjet with the steel drum we gifted to him in honor of his last trip). I was inspired by the children we met at Felicity Presbyterian School. I feel lucky to have met the future leaders of Trinidad and Tobago through the Symposium. I have laughed harder, stayed up later, and learned more than I could have ever imagined in just seven days.

I want to encourage anyone who is thinking of going on an ISLP trip to take advantage of it. As cheesy as this may sound, it really does change you for the better. The 13 men and women I have spent this week with are now people who I am bonded with for life. No matter where our careers take us, we will always have this experience with each other and I think that is priceless.

I have Trinidad tabannca right now, but I know that this will not be my last trip to the wonderful island.

Mandy Parente
College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year
University of Louisville ISLP

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Work & Play

On Wednesday, March 12th, we were able to have a mix of business and fun!  It was a great way to prepare for the symposium the next day. Many of us began the day by spending the morning sleeping in, lying by the pool, or shopping and experiencing downtown Port of Spain.

We went to NAPA, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) complex where the symposium will be held.  Some presenters from UTT and the University of the West Indies (UWI) were able to come and work with some of us on the presentations for tomorrow, and all groups were able to put last minute touches on their presentations and see the location and set up for the event.
The day wouldn't be complete without more pool time and a wonderful dinner. We were also able to share our experiences from the past two action-packed days through our reflection time and record our experiences through a group interview held after dinner. This is a unique way to let us understand our own experiences and share them with others who we might not even personally know. This makes our experience here even more impactful!

Olivia Feldkamp
College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year
University of Louisville ISLP

My Story

I was born and raised in Louisville and even attended a local school for my undergraduate career, and though I have loved every second of being a part of the city of Louisville, my stationary life has allowed me to get pretty comfortable in my own little box.  This trip has been important in helping me break out of that box.  As nervous as I was about the trip, I was excited about spending time in the Caribbean and getting a tan over spring break, but in the end this trip has proved to be much more than I ever could have imagined.  

I have been snorkeling, I have tasted shark, I have chewed on an actual sugar cane, I have created pottery out of clay and water and I have learned more about the culture in the last four days than I ever could have learned in a book.  I have had the opportunity to meet amazing individuals whom I never would have met if it had not been for this opportunity and I have been able to have conversations with professionals in the field that I am hoping to work in that I never would have had otherwise. 

My favorite experiences, thus far, could be narrowed down to the experience in the primary school and snorkeling in the ocean.  If you asked me last week if I would be getting in the ocean, I would have told you ‘no way’, but right there in that moment I decided I would never be able to do this at home, and I strapped on my life vest, put on a mask and jumped in.  The fish were huge and the coral was beautiful.  The water was rough but crystal clear and although I was terrified that something in the water would get me, I did it anyways and because of this, I can now say that I snorkeled in the ocean and, ultimately, no one can take that memory away from me. 

The opportunity to visit with a primary school also proved to be a memory that will not be easily forgotten.  After talking with the students about what they wanted to be when they grew up and how they planned on getting there, we began to create small talk with them.  After some encouragement we were able to get one of the young girls to sing for us after she told us that she enjoyed singing.  My jaw literally dropped when this young girl opened her mouth and began singing.  She was amazing!  Kristia and I just looked at each other in amazement and then we began singing along with her.  Not only were we able to enjoy a moment listening to such a talented girl, but we were also able to share in the moment and sing along with her.  In so many ways we were different than these children, whether we were talking about where we came from and how we talked and what we ate, but in that moment we were so similar.  I will never forget that moment and how I felt so connected to those young kids, and I will never forget the way that this trip pulled me out of my box and into the world.       

Whitney Edwards
College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year
University of Louisville ISLP

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Art of Being Flexible

Hello from Belize!

I'm Monali and I'm a junior and traveling to Belize with the Justice Administration program and the ever so vibrant Dr. Foster. Well today was interesting day, I loved my time in the dental clinic this morning. I assisted a Dental Student and helped with a few extractions. As an aspiring dentist I was so appreciate of Drew and all of the explaining he was doing during the entire process. I find myself meeting new people every day and I'm sure by the end of tonight I can list something off about everyone on this trip. Honestly, the different people on this trip are keeping things interesting and making the heat (a steady 90° in khakis and polos) bearable.

After the usual lunch of peanut butter & jelly (and corn flakes) sandwiches, a group of us headed back to Maya Mopan to help with teacher training. As Dean Mardis says, we need to be flexible and if our experience this afternoon wasn't the finest showing of flexibility then I don't know what is. As the teachers in the afternoon were going through teacher training, six of us were in charge of entertaining and keeping track of 70 young students in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders from 4 to 7 years old. Lucky for us we got the shift during the prime heat and right after their lunch break. We arrived around 1pm and when 2:30pm rolled around, we were Oh so ready to get back in the big white van. The children were rampant, with their teachers gone and occupied with their training, we were not prepared for the onslaught of 70 energetic, inquisitive, and rambunctious primary school kids. We read to them, colored with them, (tried to) make sure that they didn't leave the school yard, and Katie and I even made up a ball game for them to play. We quickly ran out of paper, pencils, balls, patience, and our ability to keep these kids under control. We played outside in the blistering heat for what felt like hours and everyone ended up covered in sweat. What was supposed to be us teaching in classrooms quickly turned into a very inexperienced babysitting cohort, again staying very flexible. We soon after jumped in the van, headed back on the bumpy road, waved by to the clinic and were thankfully back on our way to the hotel to take showers and relax...until tomorrow. While I hope the teachers learned a lot during the training, I'm in awe of how much they have to deal with and the ability they have to keep these excited children focused and learning. The respect I have for those teachers is incredible and even if we offered them a bit of respite I'm glad we could provide the that for them! I'm looking forward to rest of the trip and I'm so happy to be where I am experiencing what I'm experiencing with the people I'm experiencing all of this with.

Go Cards!

Enjoy the Moment

Hey y'all! This is Casey Cornett with the Justice Administration program. I am an anthropology major with a JA minor. I want to go into forensics! Well, that is the plan for now anyway. So far this trip has been AMAZING. I have met so many wonderful people. On the first day of our school/dental clinic adventures I got to wander around Maya Mopan and I met a man who told me a story that hit really close to home. His son was shot in the heart and his wife had her foot amputated. He was stuck at home caring for her. I went through a similar experience with losing a three immediate family members violently and unexpectedly. Still, I could not imagine going through what he has been through yet keep such a great outlook on life. Although his life sounds really rough, I am jealous. He is satisfied at home sitting with his wife. When we walked in his home to tell him about the dental clinic, he was laying in his hammock just relaxing. His wife was in the other room within shouting distance of him, laying in her hammock. They have had a hard life with losing their son and having to undergo the stress of the wife's surgical recovery in a rural setting. The husband was running a store out of his home, yet never tried pushing a purchase on any of us. He wanted to hear what we had to say and he wanted to tell his story. It was truly magical! Day two went a little differently. I had a long, rough day at the Georgetown Middle School. I taught an anti-bullying workshop, a positive thinking workshop and then a first-aid workshop. It was such a long day. Directly after the workshops I thought I was finally done. My instructors thought differently. They took us to the dental clinic and I met some wonderful children. I played, played and played with them. I listened to their stories and swung them around in my arms like a helicopter. I am so sore tonight but it was so rewarding. Those kids thought I was just as awesome as I thought of them. At one point they tackled me to the ground! It was wonderful until I remembered that I tend to break out in a rash when I roll in the grass! Once I told them that I needed to get up one of them stood behind me and two more grabbed my arms and helped pull me up! It showed me that although we were strangers we could still love each other and enjoy the moment. I must say that this trip is a once in a lifetime experience and I am taking so many positive memories back to the USA with me!

Have a great day!
Casey Cornett

P.S. A huge shout out to my momma, family and boyfriend. I love you! #TeamTaylor

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Good Evening from Belize!

My name is Taylor Forns, and I am a senior double major in biology and Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies. I am here in Belize as a member of the nursing group. Part of the reason why I chose to spend my final spring break in college before starting the arduous journey through medical school next year was due to the volunteering I have done since 2012 at the Kentucky Racing Health Services Center, where I serve as a translator for Spanish-speaking patients that work at Churchill Downs. One of the providers at the clinic, Dr. Whitney Nash, is in charge of the nursing cohort for the ISLP trip to Belize and convinced me that it would be the single best spring break I could have ever imagined. Oh how right she was! Today, I worked in the dental clinic during the afternoon, where I was able to assist the dental students in their work. One gentleman from Honduras made his way to the clinic after his wife suggested he should be seen by the dentist. Unable to speak English (only Spanish), he showed up, but luckily I was there to translate for him and the dental student that worked on him. His graciousness for not only my help, but the dental student's work, was incredible and refreshing. The people I work with at the racetrack clinic in Louisville are always thankful as well, but they have the opportunity to be seen by a healthcare provider every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; my friend from Honduras only had this opportunity once a year if his job on the banana plantation allowed for it. The field of global healthcare, be it medicine or dentistry, is such a gratifying practice, one that I hope to continue as a physician. My experience today will be one that I can reflect on daily as a healthcare professional and know that when I am able to help others, be it by giving them medicine or providing an avenue for them to communicate with somebody else through translation, my service can profoundly affect a person's life and his or her community.

Kayaking in Tobago

While in Tobago at the Grafton Beach Resort Hotel I had the opportunity to go kayaking off the shores of the Caribbean ocean. I had never been kayaking before, but have always wanted to try it. Although Drew and Sara had kayaked before, they were more than willing to accompany me on this adventure. The weather was beautiful and the water was so clear and blue it looked as though it belonged on a postcard. 

We started out by following the shoreline until we reached a rock point. When we rounded the bend we could see the island curve around and the mountains rising up in the distance. We decided to cut across the ocean to the other side of the beach, but kayaking requires more work than I expected. The wind created a great breeze on our faces, however, it made the ocean choppy which made it harder to paddle and keep up our momentum. In the end Sara and I decided to turn back and head towards the shore while Drew continued on to the other side of the beach. On the way back Sara and I saw flying fish jump out of the water in front of us. I had never seen flying fish up close before and it was amazing to be able to see their fins rapidly keeping them aloft. Right before we pulled up onto the beach we passed a boat that had been moored out in the ocean for Pelicans to rest and relax. I was nervous to pass by too close because I was afraid that they would attack us; they were so big! Thankfully they just ignored us and we passed by without incident. Overall it was an amazing experience and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to experience kayaking while in Tobago.

Sarah Exner 
College Student Personnel Master's Program, 1st Year
University of Louisville ISLP

One of a Kind

On Saturday we went on a Glass Bottom Boat Tour.  At first I thought it was going to be an adventure were we just looked down through the glass to see what was under the sea.  However, when the captain introduced himself as, Captain Jack, I knew we were in for a real adventure.  We got everybody to go out on the boat, even though some of us were apprehensive at first.  Once we were out on the water in the boat, our first stop was the opportunity to go snorkeling and most of us got out in the water to experience the coral and fish.  The next stop was “The Fountain of Youth”; it was a sand bar or shallow area.  We got everybody out in the water even if they were scared. Our team encouraged and helped overcome any fears any of us had about getting in the water.  It was a true bonding experience. We came together as a team and I realized that this is the group that I will have this experience with.  Even those who have been on this trip before had a different experience.  Our team of a kind.

Sara Clifton College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year University of Louisville ISLP 

Melinda's Story

My name is Melinda Dolack and I am a Family Nurse Practitioner student in my last semester at        U of L  I will graduate in May. Belize is my 2nd study abroad opportunity since I have been at          U of L Masters. I am quite blessed to be surrounded by such a diverse crowd of students and faculty. Although we are all from the many disciplines at U of L (Justice Administration, Communications, Dental and Nursing), we all interact like we are the best of friends. We have already traveled countless miles sightseeing the Belize countryside, explored the 5000 year old Mayan ruins, spent the day on a private island, snorkeled the beautiful reefs, and hours of laughing and card playing. Our mission in Belize is to teach the children--health, first aid, communication skills, an anti-bullying campaign while the dentals students assist with extractions and fillings.
 As diverse all of our backgrounds are, we have all come together for the kids of Belize. I know this will be a week I will never forget.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Best is Yet to Come

My name is Jessica Crawford, a 5th year senior at UofL and I am here in Belize with the Justice Administration Department but most importantly with an awesome group of students and faculty alike. I came into this trip not knowing what to expect other than what Dr. Foster told me and what I learned from our weekly orientation on Tuesday nights. Going into the trip I wasn't friends with anyone who was attending, but through the weekly meetings I slowly started recognizing faces and became more excited for the people who I would spend a whole week with in Belize. It was a bit awkward at first because I was simply feeling out what I would be experiencing in Belize, but I learned fairly quickly that it would be just fine. As we traveled to South Water Caye today, I met a lot of new people who were in our group and loved every moment of it. It truly was paradise on the island and I experienced things I never knew I would get the chance to: snorkeling around the reef, feeding fish insides to pelicans, and sitting in crystal clear water as I got the worst sunburn I've ever obtained. The most exciting part of today was realizing that it's only Monday. We have the next three days to do what we really came here to do, hopefully impact the lives of the communities in Maya Mopan and Georgetown as we also get to hang out with the children in the villages. The best truly is yet to come... I'm excited to grow closer to the people around me as I soak in the Belizian culture and appreciate the world around me even more.

An ISLP Birthday to remember!

Hi everyone! My name is Alayna S. and I'm in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing program at UofL. Today's adventure took us to a private beach on South Water Caye, about a 30 minute boat ride from our resort in Dangriga. This place was incredible - secluded with clear blue water, tons of palm trees, hammocks on the water's edge, and plenty of ocean life to check out. It was a day made even more special because I was lucky enough to turn 30 years old on the Caye. The group spent the day snorkeling in the reef (nurse sharks, sting rays, and schools of fish were some of the more exciting sea life spotted today), playing beach volleyball, lounging in hammocks, swimming, feeding barracuda innards to pelicans and frigates, taking loads of photos, and soaking in the warm Caribbean sun (becoming the Red Birds that we are). Pelican Beach Resort provided a delicious lunch of shrimp pasta and the staff was so hospitable, explaining about the Belizean way of life and taking good care of the group. Once we came back to our resort everyone dispersed to clean up and chill out before dinner, which ended with a sweet birthday cake and a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday'. All in all, today was an amazing day and a pretty perfect birthday.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Best Spring Break Yet!!

Hey this is Roxanne Smith and I am with the Communications department at the University of Louisville. When I found out I was chosen to travel to Belize this semester with my school I was very thrilled! Traveling was easy and our experience thus far has been outstanding. After plane rides and drives we first arrived in San Ignacio where we were amazed by a beautiful view! Our hotel was much more than what we expected! We got to stay in really cool cabanas and the view was outstanding over looking the city. The meals they served were a lot better than I had expected as well! We ate everything from beef, beans, eggs, to pasta! Going into Xunantunich was interesting as well. I was not expecting the Mayan Ruins to be so pretty! Even being afraid of heights I still climbed to the top afraid of missing out on the experience. Climbing down was interesting and I had to scoot on my bottom in order to get down. It was a wonderful day filled with learning, beautiful sights, and shopping! I even picked up a tshirt, bag, and bracelet. Another long car ride to Dangriga though but I found myself taking a quite needed nap. Once we arrived we were again blessed with an amazing view of the ocean and sounds of the festival next door. Our accommodations have been much more pleasing than expected and I believe our entire group is having a wonderful time!  More to come!


Howdy y'all, Claire Lewis here from the JA department. Our first 24 hours in Belize have been incredible. This is my first trip outside of the U.S. and I am completely fascinated by the people and culture. Today we visited the Mayan ruins and met some very loud howler monkeys. We left San Ignacio around 1 and drove two hours to the beautiful Dangriga, where we will spend most of the trip. I am currently sitting in the Pelican Beach Resort, enjoying the gentle breeze and festive music - the locals are celebrating Baron Bliss day with a party on the beach. In my short time here, I have been completely taken aback by the beauty of both the people and the land. Locals smiled and waved at us as our bus caravan entered the city, and a young boy on a bike proudly showed us an iguana he had caught. What I love most about Belize so far is that the main form of entertainment seems to be the company of others - not iPhones and SnapChat and Facebook, but the company of other people, which is something I think we take for granted back at home. This is the first time I've been on the internet since my arrival, and honestly...I'm excited to finish and go back to the party on the beach. I think as a group, we Americans need to spend less time looking at each other's Facebooks and more time looking at each other's faces. Food for thought.

Alas, the beach is calling! Toodles.

-Claire (who sends her love to Janelle and Kevin back home)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sixteen Years

This year will be the sixteenth international service learning trip to Belize.  Forty-five faculty, staff and students representing Dentistry, Nursing, Justice Administration and Communications will travel to Belize through the International Service Learning Program.

This blog will document our experiences with daily posts.

While in Belize, the students will break into groups and implement a number of service projects, including operating a dental clinic, first aid training, presenting workshops on bullying, teacher training, and community canvasing.  Integration of academic course content with these service experiences are designed to increase students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.  The weeklong trip won't be all work, though. While in Belize, the students will have the chance to visit such sites as the Mayan ruins, Belize Zoo and the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan.

To find out more information about the ISL program please visit the website:

Michael Mardis, Dean of Students

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ready to Depart!

Hi y'all. My name is Kelly and I am one of nine UofL College Student Personnel Students that is about to have an experience of a lifetime in Trinidad and Tobago. These past few months we have been working really hard in the classroom learning about the culture of Trinidad and Tobago, the tertiary educational system, and the primary and secondary school system. We have also been working diligently on our presentations for the 4th Annual Symposium on Student Engagement. This year our theme is Community Engagement: Impact on Self, School, and Community. And we are getting really anxious and excited to meet the students that we will be co-presenting with in less than a week!
 With the weather being so cold here in Kentucky, we are all really looking forward to landing in Tobago on Saturday and spending the day in the beautiful sunshine! We are excited to see the ocean and start exploring the culture that we have learned so much about.
 It is hard to believe that in a little over 24 hours we will be boarding a plane and on our way! I personally am looking forward to the the experience of presenting at an international symposium, meeting new people, learning about the culture, and of course to "lime" (which is a Trinidadian term for 'relax') on the beach.

Kelly Stark
College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year
~University of Louisville International Service Learnin Progam

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2 Weeks Away

The University of Louisville International Service Learning Program is getting ready to depart for the Trinidad and Tobago trip. Some of our College Student Personnel graduate students will collaborate with colleagues and other students from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine and University of Trinidad and Tobago at the now 4th Annual Symposium on Community Engagement. Since the first trip to Trinidad and Tobago, almost 3 years ago, our students have presented to nearly 300 faculty, staff and students in Trinidad on various topics related to community engagement. Although the main focus on this trip is the Community Engagement Symposium, our students will also get the chance to see some of the beautiful sites on the islands and interact with the native people to learn firsthand about their culture and history. We are excited and looking forward to our upcoming trip!