First, let me start off by saying that this was this is by far my favorite course that I have ever taken in Law School. Belize really gave Contracts and Torts a run for their money, however, Belize still came out on top. But in all seriousness, I learned so much from this course. Not limiting myself to academic material such as Empowerment, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver, but about the Belizean culture, language, geography, attractions, spirituality and how to manage a high school and elementary school classroom.
Beginning with the Communications material, I learned more than I ever thought I would ever know about empowerment and self-esteem. I was able to discover how to get youth of both elementary and high school students to interact and participate in class by asking certain questions and having them engage in certain activities during the classroom presentation. During this presentation I FINALLY learned the CARDS cheer which I have somehow failed to learn in the four years that I have been a student at the University of Louisville. I learned it so well I was actually able to teach it to the students!
Although not as interesting as the Belizean culture, I learned the Heimlich maneuver and CPR from the nursing students. As a nursing student explained to me, “the Heimlich maneuver is an emergency technique for preventing suffocation when a person's airway becomes blocked by a piece of food or other object.” I also learned how to perform Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on both infants and adults. The interesting aspect of inter-disciplinary work is that you have to learn the material well enough to teach it to students of all ages. This means answer any questions that the students might have and get it right the first time so as to not confuse the students.
At the dental clinic I learned how to take a manual blood pressure as well as a blood pressure using the machine. Sometimes, a person’s arm would be too big for the cuff to fit on for the automated blood pressure machine and a nursing student showed me how to use the cuff to take a forearm blood pressure. I participated in sterilizing dental equipment and learned about the different sterilization machines. I like to think that I learned how to extract a tooth since I watched so many being extracted but…I’m not quite there yet!
Nevertheless, I was able to get to know Belizeans throughout Belize from Independence to Belize City to Dangriga. I had the opportunity to experience different cultures of people located within Belize from the Maya Mopans to Georgetown and Independence who were located not too far away from one another.
One of my most interesting learning experiences while in Belize was how to open a coconut with a machete. While walking down the road, Erika, Mahnoor and I came across a coconut while the Maya Mopan students had gone home for lunch. Erika decided that she was going to walk up to someone’s home and ask them to open it. I thought this was funny because I honestly didn’t believe that anyone would open the coconut for her. However, to my surprise, a man handed Erika a machete and told her to open it while laughing hysterically. Seconds later he offered to open the machete and I saw the proper technique how to open a freshly fallen coconut. In this experience, I learned so much about the Belizean people as a whole. Their sense of community, helpfulness and friendliness surpasses anything that I have ever seen before in my life. People that live in shacks and have the clothes on their back and walk miles and miles to work today appear to be happier, friendlier, and more fulfilled than people I have met in the United States with every type of material item that you could imagine.
This trip made me think twice about what is really important in life and the type of life that I want to lead and how I would like to be remembered. It’s amazing how far a little kindness can go and the impact that it can have on someone. That man probably will forget my name, face, and everything we discussed, but I will never forget his kindness at a time when he had absolutely nothing to gain from helping three-young girls from Kentucky.
Thank you for the opportunity to go on this trip. It was life-changing and an experience that I will never forget.
Brandeis School of Law