Watch the SLC film Kāēyas Mesek Oskēken at the link below.
Kāēyas Mesek Oskēken
If Belize had to be described in one word, that word would have to be adventure. We learned so much from the moment we arrived, and that lasted to the moment we left. Everything we learned will continue to last forever because every experience was very memorable. The entire SLC group grew very close from learning and experiencing so much together. We had many chances to meet and get to know the natives of Belize by spending time as a group and one-on-one time with people of all ages. One thing that everyone agrees with is that the people of Belize are amazing because of their kindness and openness to sharing their lives and culture with anyone willing to learn and appreciate it.
The land of Belize is the perfect comparison for the people. Much of it is untouched and grows openly and freely. There is so much variety in color and uses for all living things. One of these things is medicinal use. Everything is used for something, and many of the uses are known by the native people of Belize. There is always more to learn though, and I have no doubt the uses will be discovered and used properly if the land is preserved.
Watch SLC News Trailer Here! See you on Thursday, Nov. 19th for the premiere and a chance to speak with the high school Sustainability Leadership Cohort members about their experience.
Save-the-date! The Youth Speaks Event will be held on November 19th at the College of Menominee Nation Cultural Learning Center from 6-8pm.
This event is to showcase the work of the Sustainability Leadership Cohort (SLC) during the summer. We will be showing the latest video, SLC News! We hope everyone can make it and represent the 2015 cohort!
Belize in one word would be an adventure. We have been back from Belize for a little over two weeks, and they say soon it will all be a distant memory, but for me it is something that will never fade away, or be too far away. From Belize I learned more than I could ever learn from just a textbook or reading about it. I experienced it, day-by-day life, immersed in their culture, and was accepted by the people. It is a culture down there that is unlike any I have ever seen. It made me feel things that I might have never have unlocked if it wasn’t for Belize and the people I went with. It reminded me of one person in peculiar somebody who came from such a different background, lifestyle, and culture, but how even though we have differences, we can still come together and be friends and a family. This person was my foreign exchange student who I got the chance to spend two years of my life with. A friendship and connection that is forever life changing. Belize was a lot like this special year. It in a way brought me back to my roots and in a sense reconnected me with parts I haven’t been connected with in what seems like forever. It was a really amazing feeling to be connected once again. Belize is so beautiful, and it’s also a place that is full of beautiful people. Some of my most favorite things from Belize were the aspiring friendships, the embracement of the people, and everything tied together. I could go on and on for hours about Belize, but instead I’ll just leave you with this. “Adventure is out there,” It was experience that will be with me forever.
My experience in Belize was absolutely amazing. I learned so much and it helped me grow as a person. I loved being able to interact and communicate with the people from Belize. They have so much knowledge and so many things they could teach us. I also enjoyed learning about their culture and being able to participate in their communal dances. It was a lot of fun. When I was there I felt great. The people there were so happy and it made me happy; you could really tell how close the community is and how important family is to them. I recall a girl I met there, Maritza, saying how important the children were to them and how they always play with them and teach them games that are brain stimulating. I thought that was so cool. It made me wish that more parents would value their children like that here on the reservation. I loved how sustainable they were there too, how they used rainwater for their sinks and showers and although I didn’t really enjoy not being able to flush the toilet, I thought that was cool too. I also enjoyed all the activities we did throughout the trip. They were very fun and educational. Over all I loved the country. It was truly a beautiful place and I definitely want to go back one day and vacation. I forgot to mention I loved all the fruit trees and fresh fruit we got to eat. It was delicious.
My favorite thing we did on the trip was probably canoeing and swimming in the Macow river, I believe that’s how you spell it. I really liked this because we finally got to swim and the river felt amazing (because it was so incredibly humid) and canoeing was very calming and the scenery was beautiful.
Travel to Belize with the SLC group was my first overseas travel experience and “wow” it met all my expectations plus. Each day was as inspirational as the one before. My first impressions were the heat and the trash along the streets of Belize City, but as we traveled to the Cayo District the natural beauty of the place began to shine through. As the days progressed the beauty of the people began to shine just as bright.
The list of things I enjoyed is long. The things I learned along the way longer. As a science teacher I was excited to explore the biodiversity of the region. To see wild monkeys move through the trees, to see an endangered Toucan in flight, to see iguanas in their natural environment, to see leaf-cutter ants busily moving their bounty along their rainforest highways were all signs that we weren’t in the north woods anymore. Our visit to the Belize Botanical Gardens allowed me to experience the rich diversity of the rainforest, as did explorations around our home base of the Trek Station. Standing below the ginormous Ceiba tree, the sacred tree of the Mayan peoples, at Arenal, was a reminder the role of the “Elder Trees” as they support the plant communities they overshadow. As we learned about the drink of the Mayan rulers, Cacao, I was further reminded of the interdependence of all life on our mother Earth. The cacao needs the shade provided by the Elder Trees to flourish. A tee shirt slogan “Cacoa will save the rainforest” seems both a promise and a prayer.
The most unexpected experience of the trip was a dip in the Macal River. Yes, I was in that canoe, the one that capsized 100 feet from the launch site beginning our 7 mile trip down the river. Though the dip was unexpected, and embarrassing, it was also quite refreshing. It was as if the Creator was reminding me that regardless of age we are gifted each day to live to our fullest. The people of Belize that we encountered seemed to have internalized this lesson. They greeted us with open arms, welcomed us to their homes, gifted us with fresh fruits of many varieties, answered our many questions, and shared openly their cultures and challenges.
I will remember the trip with fondness, and hope as I return to my life of plenty I do not forget the commitments I made to seek ways to make a difference in the lives of those I met as they made a difference in mine.
Oneida Nation High School Science Teacher
The Belize trip was a very…emotional journey for me. This entire experience in the Sustainable Leadership Cohort has been an emotional experience because in order for me to do everything, I have to take myself out of my comfort zone; I’m very protective and touchy about my comfort zone too. But I’m glad that I have been able to do that, stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new things…talking to new people…just getting out is something huge for me. I know how much of a privilege it is to be able to do such a thing, and I thought about that the entire time in Belize – how lucky we were to be able to go to another country and interact with some of the local communities. I thought about how weird it was that such a diverse group of people were able to get along so well, and how we were all able to make connections and grow together. This trip is something that I’ll be talking about for years, years and years until I can vaguely remember how the first time I felt the heat stepping off the plane and how the different faces were looking at us as we drove past them in our van. One of the things that I don’t think I’ll ever forget is how the kids of Arenal looked at us when we first arrived, and how the opening ceremony was just so open. It was like the words personal space weren’t even apart of their dictionaries. The way they embraced our presence was heartwarming because I have never felt so much comfort and appreciation and just overall love in one room – a room full of strangers!
The happiness I felt when I was around everyone, when we were sitting around eating and playing cards, when we were in the talking circle, when we were just laughing and making jokes… is an indescribable happiness that I’ve never felt. In fact, I have never felt happier when I was around everyone. And when I wasn’t involved in any of the activities (which was rarely), I felt happy just hearing the laughter and I felt happy hearing everyone having the time of their lives. The happiness that was radiating off was something you couldn’t ignore, you just couldn’t. Everywhere you went that happiness trailed behind you. I don’t think I could find another word to describe the bliss and contentedness that I felt in Belize. I hope that I won’t forget this feeling, or loose this happiness that took me forever to gain back. That’s also another thing that I will forever thank this great country, was helping me become more…happy. Sure, it might not have been the country itself, but the experience made me happy. The people made me happy.
I canoed for the first time, yes for the first time, down a tropical river. I swam in a tropical river! I’m not sure how many have the ability to say something like that, to say that the first time they canoed was in a tropical river is amazing. Really. I can still remember the day so well, how hot it was and how warm and great the water felt after canoeing for seven miles and how relieved to finally dunk their heads under the water to cool down..it was amazing. Everything we’ve done was amazing, and I think canoeing was probably one of my favorites. Although I’d feel a bit guilty for rating all the things we’ve done I think that I’d give this event a solid nine – and that includes visiting the botanical gardens. It’s funny now, as I’m typing this because looking back on what we’ve all done made me realize again, that we are so privileged to experience something like this. Literally, a once in a lifetime experience and I, along with ten other students were chosen to go on this trip. It just blows me away whenever I hear how lucky we were to be picked. And I’m so happy, so happy because each one of us had a personality trait that contributed to the fact that our trip was so easy and fun. Like everyday I laughed for a solid half hour, I giggled at the little things I’ve overheard and I was dying of laughter with all the mad jokes that were being exchanged.
I also keep reminding myself about how much this trip helped shape my mentality and helped me with breaking the big barriers I had, how different I see the world now. In a way, I feel a little sad. Because I can’t help but think that the group we went with, I might not come across that again. And I’m trying hard not to think like that, I know that when one door closes, another door will open and more opportunities will arise as I get older and as I get into my college studies but this trip…it made me have high expectations for my next abroad trip. My future trips probably won’t compare to this one, especially because this is my first study abroad trip. They will all have to meet the expectations I have set in my mind now, all thanks to this amazing journey with these amazing group of people. I opened up so much to a group of strangers, and it felt great. It felt great too because for once someone listened and we were all so supportive of each other and we listened. Man, that is one thing that I appreciated so much, was all the listening and the attention that was given when someone was presenting. I’ve never had that attention, and to finally experience that is so great – indescribable. Overall, this trip was so amazing. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this journey, and the people that we have met, and the people in our group have made a special place in my heart. I became more proud of myself, gaining back my confidence that I’ve lost makes me so proud and happy. So much has been discovered and accomplished in one week, and I’m so happy. Happy. Happy. Happy.
The first thing I noticed about Belize when I got off the plane was that it was sweltering hot. You could feel the humidity in the air. The good thing was that that was the only bad thing about our trip to Belize, other than the beetles that were the size of mice. Eventually I adapted to it, (the heat, not the beetles) and the trip was very enjoyable. Everyday was a new experience. One memorable thing was when we had a meeting with a group of student from Guatemala in a town that was cut down the center and split between Belize and Guatemala. Another was going to the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich (Za-Nan-Too-Nitch). Also, I can’t leave out visiting the local towns and villages, eating at the local restaurants and visiting the local shops. The one thing that was the most fun was playing with the baby iguanas. We also got to see many exotic animals and experience Belize from the water when we canoed down the Macal River.
My favorite memory that I had from the trip was probably when my brother and I played our instruments with the Marimba group. Jacob banged on the drums that were provided to him, the founder of the Marimba group struck every piece of wood with his mallets to get a rich, vibrant sound from the wooden instrument, and I played my saxophone, reaching every new note giving it the smooth, alto sound. Together, all three of us blended together perfectly as we played a version on Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk. I enjoyed it because it was a great cultural exchange, to share and blend music with people from a whole different world. It was especially amazing since the Marimba Leader just learned how to play the piece in 1 minute.
The overall trip was a great experience, from learning Mayan Traditions to explaining ours to the locals, it was very memorable. It was very sad to say goodbye.
With the August POSOH Tribal School Educators Institute in the recent past, I cannot help but think of the similarities between the high school youth I was fortunate enough to work with and some of their educators. Fresh off of working with the youth I was lucky enough to aid in a similar process with many of their teachers. Science and Art teachers from local indigenous school who were able to attend the POSOH professional development made three to five minute videos for their students.
Walking into the computer lab I had expected things to be very different with the teachers. In reality, the teachers asked many of the same questions the students asked, had many of the same complaints the students had, and enjoyed many of the same facets to video production as the students enjoyed. They even looked the same, slouched over their computers with just the tops of their head visible during their editing process. READ MORE…