Belize trip leaves lasting impressions

Many colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to experience working abroad in schools. Fredonia State University College of Education offers such a program, “Friends Across Borders.”

I had the opportunity of joining this group as a community member. Two professors, 15 students and myself flew to Belize and worked for two weeks in the heart of Belize City in two schools.

The Belize we experienced is not the Belize you see advertised by Realtors to prospective buyers of homes in this country. I had the privilege of observing and working in various classrooms in Stella Maris School. It was not necessary for me to prepare lessons or be assigned to a particular class as did the Fredonia students.

What inspired me most about this particular school was, it is an All Inclusive School. Children with all types of disabilities, mild to severe, worked, played, and learned according to their abilities, helping each other.

What impressed me greatly about our future teachers, Fredonia students, was the selfless giving of their time and talents, bonding with students and teachers. Before the students left the States they collected suitcases filled with shoes for the children. I watched as the youngsters small and tall were fitted with gently used and some new sneakers and shoes. Three other suitcases filled with school supplies were presented to the school at a Closing Assembly.

This experience opened my eyes to realize how fortunate we are in this Country to have the opportunities afforded our young people to be anything they aspire to be and to succeed in any field they choose.

My congratulations to Fredonia State for offering so many diversified experiences for students. To Dr. Janeil Rey and Dr. Michael Jabot for the organization, preparation, implementation and caring for all the details needed for a successful experience, thank you. Thank you especially to all the students who conducted themselves as young professionals and who worked so hard for the children of Belize.

Finally to all the teachers and students at Stella Maris and St. Mary’s, thank you for welcoming all of us into your schools and being gracious hosts to all of us.

At the final Assembly our group had the opportunity of singing our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” before all the teachers and students. The teachers and students in return sang their National Anthem. It was a fitting farewell to an awe-inspiring experience.

Dr. Estelle Wade-Crino is a Silver Creek resident.