Belize trip

Travel to Belize for an interesting combination of adventure, relaxing islands, the jungle, history and culture, competition, ecotourism and service as depicted in the 10 day itinerary. Belize is located south of Mexico and east of Guatemala. Unlike Mexico and the rest of Central America, English is the official language and there is a noticeable African influence as compared to the Spanish influence found elsewhere. The lively Creole dialect, wildlife, world’s second longest barrier reef, lovely Cayes and beaches and more relaxed atmosphere with a safer environment make Belize a popular Caribbean destination for many.


After a few nasty falls on a three hour trek from Chaing Rai, Thailand through the rain drenched narrow mud walking paths, we made it to the small Kaaren village. We were told to bring small gifts for the villagers as we would be spending the night in the village so I bought a box of pens. We were greeted by children who were moving their hands as if signing their name. The person next to me asked what they were doing and I told them they were asking for pens and pencils at which time I handed the students my pens. The students have to take the same mud walking paths to school as we did and then try to learn without some of the most basic school supplies including pencils and a notebook which they need to furnish but often financially cannot. It’s a problem that I often see in the 140 countries I have traveled to.


It’s a problem that can be partially addressed in a service project trip to Belize. The goal would be for students attending the service project to gather school supplies for the Belize students such as pens and paper but also items such as a projector which would help teachers in delivering lessons. AHA students would personally pack the supplies which would then be shipped to Belize. Students would arrive in Belize just after the supplies and thus could hand deliver the supplies to the students, an important part of the process. Often people are tentative to give because they are unsure if what they give is delivered. Also seeing the student receive the gift helps those that gave see the complete loop.


Dr. Jeff Schroeder and Joseph Koch are the organizers of this trip. Dr. Schroeder is currently a professor of international business and was previously a logistics manager based in Korea for three years and has been to Belize 10 times, leading groups of students. Jeff was the country manager in Korea for Fritz Companies (now a division of UPS).  He set up the operations in Korea and then set up operations in Northern China and the Russian Far East back to Uzbekistan.  He also was part of the senior management team in Asia so supported the director as required including reviewing acquisitions and agents from Russia back to the Middle East. 


Jeff’s first trip to Belize was leading a class from Iowa State University and later for DMACC where he is now a professor.  Jeff has been there over 10 times with the shortest trips being 2 weeks. Jeff’s view on this trip is, “Belize is a modestly successful developing state.  The students I have taken there have been transformed by the experience.  We will start in Placencia which is on the coast and developing fast. As we drive back into the mountains towards St. Margaret you will see the economy becoming plantation-oriented and meeting a people who gave up everything to get away from the civil war start over.  People may be poor in St. Margaret, but they will smile and teach all of us to learn how to live with less and to be thankful with how much we truly have.” 


Joseph Koch has travel extensively and has led many adult and student trips. He will be the main point person before the trip and the main tour guide during the trip. During the numerous excursions, local tour guides will lead the students with Joseph in a supervisory role. Airline tickets will be booked through Casa Travel, while the actual trip will be booked through Mr. Koch’s company, Pathinator. Luke Schroeder, who has been to Belize three times, will be the student coordinator. As Luke explains, “I think that it's important that people around my age start to get involved with overseas service because those are the best places to see the poverty and the appreciation that they have for things that many wouldn't consider to be a prized thing such as an extra pencil or a piece of paper or crayons. Those things are very important and I think that this trip can really offer that chance to experience and observe how people from other places other than Europe or the United States live.”


The school in Belize is St. Margaret’s School, located in St. Margaret, Cayo District. There are roughly 200 plus students in this K – 8 school. Students are mostly second and third generation descendants of Guatemalan refugees from the civil war, arriving in the 1980’s and 90’s.  Many of the kids have Mayan ancestry from Guatemala.  There are also kids who are Mayan whose ancestors came to Belize after the Caste Wars in Mexico in the 19th century. Economy is above subsistence.  Many parents work in the orange groves as laborers. If they improve their lot they tend to work in the tourism industry often travelling away from St. Margaret’s for the week or weeks at a time, with bus being the main form of transportation.   

 

In addition to the service aspect there aspect, there are additional adventure and cultural aspects as described in the itinerary. The trip has a competition aspect as well, including such competitions as races, fishing and karaoke. The winner gets 10% off their trip! Accommodations on this trip will be a combination of resorts, hotels, camping in the jungle and cabanas located in the jungle. The food is local dishes, including Creole dishes on the coast and Guatemalan food in the interior. The national dish is Belizean-spiced chicken, red beans and rice with a plantain. Total all inclusive costs is $1990 plus seasonal airfare (approximately $800 - $900)


 Any questions please contact Joseph at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.