Sunday, March 18, 2012

Students are leaving Miami

Hello parents and friends! I just talked to Kelley and all of the students have boarded the flight to Boston. They all had a wonderful trip and are excited. to see everyone The students are on AA 1724 and are scheduled to arrive at Logan at 9:30pm. Please don't hesitate to call the office with any questions 303.679.3413. Thank you for your support of this program!

Erin Lasky
Director of Operations

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 7: Snorkel Extravaganza (Leaders: Katherine & Brian)

            Yesterdaywas the last full day in Tobacco Caye. In the morning we woke up to a nice breakfast.  We had scrambled eggs, hot dogs (sausage),and fresh baked bread.  We then metDonnie at the picnic tables and headed over to the boat where we would spend upto 5 hours on looking at the sea life. We headed over 12 miles to         where we snorkeled out to the barrier reef and found some awesome marinelife.  Peter got a jellyfish stuck on hishair from one of the tour guides and he couldn’t get it off.  We saw many Parrotfish, barracudas, blueheads, and a couple different schools of fish. After we finished the snorkeling we headed over to the Smithsonianscience station where our guide met us, Bonnie, and she took us around theisland.  We saw where the scientists comeand study.  We saw rooms like the wetlab, dry lab, and the aquarium room. 
            When wewere done with the Smithsonian, we ate some lunch. Then we headed over to TwinCay Island where Donnie took us on a walk on the boardwalk to see Mangroves.  We saw white mangroves, black mangroves, andred mangroves.  After we had the mangrovetour we headed over to Man-o-war Caye where we saw Frigate birds, and brownboobies.  We learned that the male Frigatebird has a red pouch and when the males want to attract females they sticktheir red pouches out.  From the Man-o-warheading to the Mangrove Island were we snorkeled in and out of the Mangrovetrees.  On the way we saw 2 dolphins. Atthis site we saw Needlefish, the upside down jellyfish, and the blue tailedsnappers. After that we headed back to the Tobacco Cay where we had two hoursof free time and the joy of buying snacks from the snack bar. Then we played agame to find out what type of person from the options of being a: idealist,guardian, realist, and an artisan. Then we enjoyed a home-cooked dinner meal bythe chef of Tobacco Caye.
            At 7:10pmwe headed to the dock for night snorkeling with Donnie.  We then broke up into 3 groups who each got10-20 minutes in the water depending on how scared or excited you were.  We saw spotted eels, tiger sea cucumbers anda spotted one.  After we finished thesnorkel we headed over to the marine center were we had anchor and activities.  We ended the day as a close knit group.

-Katherine & Brian

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 6: Travel to Tobacco Caye and Snorkeling (Leaders: Ethan and Harry)

Today was our last day in the Mayan community. We had to say good-bye to  all of the friends that we had made in the village. It was most hard to leave Marroquin who we had all got to know very well. All of us took the bus to the school to say our final good byes to the students and to play soccer with them one last time. Everyone got time to visit the children we had taught in the classrooms. Then we got on the bus after saying our final good byes and left the community.
          On the bus we played a crazy game of mafia and ate ice cream. Upon arrival in Dangriga, we boarded a small water taxi to Tobacco Caye where we will be spending the next couple of days. On the water taxi, we met our snorkeling instructor, Donnie. The boat went very fast and some people were convinced that we were going to die on the bumps. When we arrived on the island, we were told which room we would be staying in so we put our bags away and then we were given a quick tour of the island which barely lasted five minutes due to the small size of the island.
          Afterwards, we were given a briefing on how to use all of our equipment. We then went out to the dock and jumped off in to some very shallow water. Even though many of us had never snorkeled before, we still did a good job swimming out about fifty feet to a shallower place where we got the chance to practice more in a safer environment. After swimming around for about thirty minutes we headed back to the dock.
          We arrived land and got a quick break to get some water and go to the bathroom. We then walked across the island and went off a dock on the other side so that we could reach a corral reef. We spent about an hour swimming around and seeing some amazing fish. We got a chance to see some lionfish on the reef as well as an octopus. Everybody improved greatly and had a great time in the water.
          When we got back from the reef we all went back to our rooms to change out of the wet clothes. Then we started a huge volleyball game and some of the local people amazed us with their skills. Before dinner we collected different shells for an experiment that we would be doing with Donnie. After dinner we learned about water acidification and to test the effects of it we put some shells in seawater and some in vinegar, which has a high acidity. After a few days we will check back on our experiment to see the results.

          -Ethan and Harry

Day 5: Full update (Leaders: Athena & Jessica)

After we woke up and ate breakfast we headed down to the school for the third time.  Once there, we split up. One group shoveled dirt, another finished up work in the library, and the last worked in the classrooms with students. The dirt was to make the foundation of the building and, with Louie constantly yelling at us to push and dump (the dirt), managed to finish the foundation. The library group finished labeling books and sorted them into their proper shelves, cleaning up the giant mess we had made while trying to organize them. In the classrooms some people helped out with Spanish tests, reviewing fractions, and other simple math, during which we learned how much we rely on calculators, especially when dividing fractions.
 We took a short break from the work, during which a few of us played hand games with the kids and others played soccer. At one point while we were working it started to pour but we didn’t let that stop us. By the end of the work time most of us were soaked and covered in mud, except for Kofi and Jessica who were in the library the entire time…reading.
After working we went back to the guesthouse to change and eat lunch. We were planning to go tubing that afternoon but due to the rain the river was overflowing and tubing was possibly disastrous , don’t worry we only lost five people…jk .
Instead, Julio took us to a national park where we hiked up treacherous terrain to a waterfall and swam in the “shark-infested” pool beneath. : D Some people even went into the cave behind the waterfall. On the hike there Julio pointed out several “deadly” plants and “vicious” animals, once again demonstrating his wide range of knowledge.
Once we got back we got changed and headed out to a soccer game with some of the village kids for the last time. This time, everybody participated and touched the ball at least once.
When we returned we ate dinner and listened to some songs on Marroquin’s iPad. After dinner we did a leadership activity where we tried to prioritize issues of the world. Then we packed our bags and went to bed nice and early… Well, the boys did.

-       Athena and Jessica

P.S. Don’t worry, about 20`% of this is exaggerated :3

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 5 brief update

Super busy fun day today.  In fact, it was so jam packed we didn't have time to write a full blog post.  Check back tomorrow to get the full run down from our leaders of the day, Athena and Jessica.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 4: Community Service & Cacao Bean Farm (Leaders: Nate & Phoebe)

Half of us woke up five minutes before breakfast. During our scrumptious first meal of the day it started to pour. Our work day was almost cancelled, but in the end it ceased raining, which allowed us to head out for our second day of constructing the library. Most of the morning was spent making mortar (with a mixture of sifted sand and concrete), which we used to hold the cinder blocks to the foundation that would serve as reliable support. Unfortunately, we had to skip the scheduled afternoon soccer game because of the muddy field, though the pizza served for lunch definitely made up for it.

After the pizza, we left for the chocolate-making tour, which involved exploring a cocoa bean plantation, observing the process of bean fermentation and drying, and grinding said beans to make our own chocolate. We saw a litter of absolutely adorable puppies and were understandably very distracted by their cuteness. Everyone enjoyed the trip. Later, we joined a fun evening soccer game (which we, thankfully, did not lose horribly and managed to tie at). We then returned to the cottages to end the day by eating dinner with four of the community leaders, whom we had wonderful conversations with. We look forward to the final day of work tomorrow and hope to successfully finish our library for the children in the Mayan Center.

~ Nate and Phoebe

Day 3: Community Service (Leaders: Peter & Matt)

We woke up today and had breakfast. After breakfast we went to the school and started building our library. The foundation is finished and is ready to enforce. Books in the library are slowly being sorted. Once we finished the work at the school we went for a scavenger hunt to find out more about the community. During this we walked up to members of the community and asked many questions. We went to the Mayan Museum afterword and learned about traditional culture of the Mayans. We learned how to ground coffee, make tortillas, play the marimba, and learned a lot of traditional daily life. At the end of the day, as we walked home, we stopped to play soccer with the locals. It was intense . . . we lost. Brian being the most offensive and Nate being an amazing goalie, we worked extremely hard till the last minute. Losing 2-1, we still had a lot of fun and hope to play again tomorrow. Finally getting home we end the day with a delicious dinner and putting medicine on our bug bites. We are now having a group meeting, looking forward to more exciting explorations tomorrow.

-Peter & Matt