Thursday, May 19, 2011

Belize!!!!!!

As anyone who actually reads this here blog knows, I, Chelsea Wright, am in the beautiful and amazing country of Belize. I am obsessed with this country. Absolutely obsessed. We arrived here on Saturday afternoon after a departure out of ATL at 10:00am, putting us in customs around 11 or 11:30 am. Customs was not bad at all, except for the fact that the airport had no AC. I repeat, no AC. Lack of AC has been the case in most of the buildings we are in but thankfully not our sleeping quarters!!! This girl loves a fan, but if it’s circulating warm air I find them to be rather pointless. Luckily we have both a fan and cool air during the times that we actually are at the cabin. It is HOT y’all. The humidity doesn’t make it any easier either. Humidity in ATL was around 30% before we left and here it is 75%ish percent. My only other complaint would be the early alarms, but at the end of the day I am well aware that they are worth it.

Sorry in advance for the lack of pictures post. It is bugging my OCD self that i'm not posting with any so hopefully I will add some later.

We are currently in a town called San Ignacio which is in the Cayo district. Belize is made up of districts and Cayo is on the western side of the country in the hills and forests/jungles. It is sooo beautiful. Unfortunately there are many fires throughout the area in the fields/hills/trees/etc. The smoke from the fires makes it incredibly smoky and hazy but luckily it is nothing unbearable. Today we drove out to the Progressive Mennonite community to explore and absorb some of their culture and on the way back we passed a palm tree that was up in flames. So sad.

So we got here Saturday and checked into our cabins and got settled in before dinner. Dinner was absolutely delicious. The place we are staying is called Log Cab Inns (clever, right?) and there are a bunch of small cabins scattered throughout the property. Everyone staying here eats on the patio next to the pool, kind of like a dining hall but prettier and outside. We had chicken fajitas, rice & beans. We have learned to love beans and rice (if we didn’t already) as they are a very common dish in Belize. All of our other meals have been incredibly good too.

Sunday we explored “downtown” San Ignacio which included stopping in a few touristy type shops (although they are very different from such a store in the US), watching a local get arrested, seeing a parrot and its owner on the street, eating lunch at a small restaurant and buying fresh produce at the open air market!! I bought a starfruit, limes, and a mango. I have only cut open one of the limes because two of the people with us had some uh, stomach issues after eating the mangoes they bought (without washing it. Duh.) I already have enough issues as it is so I am going to wait ‘til I have a decent knife to slice and wash the sucker up. We also went to see a local Mayan ruin, Xanatunich, but ended up deciding against it once it started monsooning. That is rescheduled for this weekend sometime, when we will also go so Cahal Pech, another Mayan ruin. When that didn’t work out and after the rain had stopped, we took a little detour to Clarissa Falls which is a “waterfall”, if that, and we hiked on the rocks and ended up jumping off the rocks into the river. It was such an awesome day despite not being able to see the Mayan ruins. When else do you have the chance to jump off a rock into a Belizean river? That night, after coming back and changing into some dry clothes, we went to dinner at Rolson, a Mexican restaurant down the road from our cabins. It was quite delicious and a fun experience to eat “real” Mexican food. The view was also amazing as it was situated at the top of a hill that looked out over San Ignacio and we also ate outside on the covered balcony. What trip would be complete without its unfortunate events though? Ours occurred before dinner when one of the vans got stuck in the mud. I have video of it, but wish that I had been in the van while my professor was repeatedly cussing as she slid sideways down a small hill. Quite a story to tell.
Monday was our first day at Bishop Martin. The students and teachers of Bishop Martin seemed a bit hesitant towards us at first as this is the first time they have had a group from the US here. Our host teacher immediately told us that she was at a loss for ideas for teaching material, which we quickly learned was definitely the case. The kids start in “Infant 1” (Kindergarten in the US) and immediately most of the teachers lecture for their lessons. One of the girls who is placed in an Infant 1 class here pulled out a book to read to her class for one of her lessons, and the kids were in shock. The teachers here are great teachers, they are just at such a loss for ideas and resources.

Tuesday was a bit of a shock for us. By us I mean myself & my "co-teacher" I am paired with a girl  who is in the Early Childhood program who is also on the trip. We are in the same classroom together, plan lessons & implement them together. I LOVE it!! It has been such a great experience for teacher collaboration which makes me excited to actually have a job and hopefully be in an inclusion classroom. The REASON it was such a shock was because we literally taught all day long. And since then, we have taught all. day. long. Dont get me wrong, we are loving it but at the end of the day it is absolutely exhausting. But also so satisfying. It makes me so excited and it is so encouraging after the rough semester I had this past spring. So far Meg and I have taught division and multiplication of decimals (mostly Megan because I embarrassed the heck out of myself by completely forgetting how to do all that. Awful) Luckily Megan has headed the Math lessons and we have team taught Language Arts and I have pretty much done Science lessons. Today we made instruments out of recyclable materials that the kids brought it and they LOVED it. It is so encouraging to see the kids loving what we and what they are doing. The principal of the school told us today that attendance has been up since we have been here this week. They have already done all of their Belize mandated testing, after which attendance for the last month-ish goes way down, so it was awesome to hear that attendance is up a noticeable amount since we have been here.

As much as I want to keep writing, I am plum tuckered out. I am trying sooo hard to remember as many details as I can, but it is hard because there is so much to absorb!! I now realize why any friends that have gone abroad and blogged havent been able to keep up with them because no one wants to waste time online. SO. With that said, I will try and post again soon, hopefully this weekend since we will finally have some down time after visiting the Mayan Ruins and going Caving and maybe to the Belize Zoo!

Mom & Dad, can you believe that I am functioning with about 7 hours of sleep a night with no naps? Me either.

Adios from San Ignacio, Belize!
Peace & Love,
Chels

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!


On this BEAUTIFUL, yet incredibly warm even for the Southern states, I am loving the fact that I leave in THREE DAYS!!!!!

I am loving the Braves for almost pulling off a W last night, making a game of it for the 9th inning thanks to Dan Uggla! Its games like those that you cant help but love, despite the loss.


Sophie loves the Braves too!

I am also loving that I am going to the game tomorrow night! We are planning a fun little shin dig with all the people in my freshman year dorm whom we spent every waking moment (pretty much) with, wether it was trips to the dining hall, late night trips to walmart, walks from downtown, or getting in trouble for who knows what.


SBXI - so happy the three of us got to spend it together.

Where it all began :)

I tried to find some more pictures with the boys in it...but unfortunately they are not very appropriate. Typical.

I am loving the group that is going to Belize!! I only knew a few people, but we have all gotten to know each other this week during class and it is going to be a fabulous rest of the month!

I am loving that I get to see my family for a day (ish), especially my sweet Sophie bear.

Finally, I am loving that I start to nanny for a family close to my house in ATL the week after I get back. I am flat broke. Like, less than $5 broke. If anyone were to steal my card, they wouldnt get very far. The joys of college life.

Hope everyone's Wednesday is filled with lots of things to love!

Peace & Love,
Chels

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm Leavin on a Jet Plane...

Oh the title of this post brings back so many memories of Camp Glisson. So many nights spent singin' on the stone porch of the ooooolllllddd dining hall worshiping and laughing. If they ever tear that dining hall down, I will cry.

So in case you forgot, I am studying abroad in BELIZE this month. SO. FREAKIN. EXCITED. We have class this week until Thursday, after which I will travel (and pray that I dont hit traffic) up to ATL. For anyone who hasn't had the INCREDIBLE privilege of driving in Atlanta traffic...well, let me just tell you that you are missing out on what might be the greatest new driver learning experience in the US. Breaking would be the key lesson in this experience.

Okay, beside the point, IM GOING TO BELIZE!!! I am just so excited. I find myself in little spurts of excitement throughout the day. I'm sure these will increase as Saturday (departure day) approaches.

We will be staying in the town of San Ignacio for the first ten days, then heading to San Pedro, located on the beautiful island of Ambergris Caye (pronounced Amber-gree Key.) San Ignacio is much more inland and basically in the Belize forest. I dont want to say rainforest, which is a very likely possibility, but I'm not sure if it is in the ACTUAL rainforest. Cant wait to see on Saturday :)



We will be student teaching/learning about how the teachers and students there get by with a much smaller amount of resources than teachers here do. The goal of the trip is to learn to "make-do" with what you have to teach with, and being resourceful in lesson plans. We ARE taking art supplies with us to incorporate the arts (actual "art", writing, drama, etc) into lessons, since the class that is associated with the study abroad will satisfy the arts portion of my transcript. I am SO SO excited to get to know the kids and my host teacher(s). I am in a 5th grade classroom which will be such a nice change from my 3 year olds I just had. Kids that can go stand in front of the toilet without wetting themselves before pulling down their pants to put it in the toilet? Yes please.

Aside from all of the AWESOME excursions we will be doing (Mayan Ruin's, Caving, Snorkeling), I am so excited to implement the lessons that my cohort-student-partner and I came up with today in class. If ANYONE (since so many people read my blog) has any ideas for 5th graders (games, lessons, etc) let me know! Belize has their own set of standards, but they are pretty much the same thing as ours in in Georgia and the US.

Also, does anyone else see the grey background of my posts? I have tried to fix it with no such luck. Any suggestions? Or maybe its just me and/or my computer...

Is it bad that it is 7:45pm and I want to go to go to bed? Don't answer that.

The next time you hear from me I will likely be in Belize!!!

Peace & Love, friends!
Chels


Friday, May 6, 2011

What I'm Loving Right Now (previously WILW)

This post was originally titled What I'm Loving Wednesday...but clearly lack of time left me unable to finish it hence why it is now What I'm Loving Right Now.


-This week, I am loving all of the HILARIOUS and profound quotes/facebook statuses that appeared on my news feed follwing the breaking news that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been eliminated...AND please, let me say, that while I agree with not taking joy in another's death, I also very much believe in justice being served for the death of 3,000+ people in NYC on that beautiful-turned-horrific-day of 9/11.


*If one of these quotes is yours and you just cannot imagine not being credited for the geniusness behind it, let me know.


"Osama bin GOTT’EM"
"America, winning. Again."
"Bag em & tag em."
"The ban on Sunday alcohol sales should be lifted for this historical occasion. Osama bin Laden is dead, God Bless America"
"I heard George W Bush started the man hunt for Osama bin Laden. Just sayin…
"It may have taken ten years but as our last president said, we will get him dead or alive. USA USA USA!!!!"
"Ding dong the witch is dead"
"So do we get fireworks and stuff for May 1 now?"
"Annnddd BOOM goes the dynamite!"
“It’s a party in the USA!!”
“Welp, that just got him reelected” (referring to Barack Obama)
"Osama BEEN Laden"
"One nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and JUSTICE for all."
“Im filled with red white and blue. I want to gun a beer, listen to Bruce Springstein and eat apple pie”
“I want to go to a Braves game tomorrow and eat a hot dog and wash it down with a cold beer. The American Dream”
"Really wish we would have found Osama alive. He would have played Jafar so well in an Aladdin Broadway show. Saddened" <--This one was my absolute favorite. Freakin hilarious, Phil Lutz.
"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight, America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done." George W. Bush
Last December, December '09 to be exact, Mom took my sister and I to NYC in celebration of our birthdays (mine 21, Catherine's 18) We went to Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial Museum that they had just up the street from it.
 
Excuse the blurry quality...this is One World Trade Center going up!
This is sister's picture. I love it despite the story behind it. This was taken in a deli down the street from Ground Zero that was miraculously not damaged. I think it explains it all.
For anyone interested, the NY Times has an incredible article on how everything played out. I am thinking it is movie material. Great things are happening, my friends. Great things.

-I am loving that I leave for Belize in 10  SEVEN days :)
-I am LOVING that this semester is almost over. As of 9:30ish tomorrow, I will officially have completed my first year of the Special Education Cohort, as well as what could quite possibly be described as the worst semester of my life.  I AM DONE!!!!!!!!
-I am loving my fabulous Mother, even if from a hundred miles away, on this Mother's Day Weekend. To say she has put up with a lot from me would be the biggest understatement of my life. No exaggerations.
Sadly this is probably one of the most recent pictures of just me and Mom...my senior prom. Crazy what four years in college will do to someone...or me. Luckily Jules loves me no matter what, as do I :)

-I am not loving that fact that my roomate of all 4 years of college is graduating tomorrow morning. The lack of words I have for this pretty much sums it up. I am having some serious issues with this fact.
Our personal photographer, Tyrez Armstead, so kindly took the above photo of us freshman year. Oh, memories.


Last month at Karebear's Second Annual 21st Birthday. I am embarrassed to even have pictures from 4 years ago and now on the same post. Note to self (for the 739847th time): Get on a treadmill.
CONGRATS Karebear on getting through four years of Math!!!
Peace & Love,
Chels