Saturday, 2 September 2017
When something comes full-circle it means that it has completed its cycle, and returned to where it first began. As I write this blog post, I am coming up on the end of my 90-day cycle here in Belize. It’s been over 80-days since I first arrived in Belize and I have just under a week left in the country; even less than that, I have only 3 days left in Punta Gorda Town, the place I have come to call home over the past nearly 3 months.
I am in Belize on an internship coordinated through CELA, the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad; I have been working with the Maya Leaders
I remember my first time being driven into PG with my CELA supervisor, Dr. Filiberto Penados – it had been a long 4-hour drive from the Cayo District where I had my orientation into Belize, and my attempts to orient myself on the winding roads were too easily lost with each speedbump and pothole we hit on our way into town. When we arrived in town, we parked at a local snack shop for lunch before Dr. Penados took us to MLAs office where we would be spending most of our time over the next 12 weeks.
A few days later, after only a couple more short drives through town and a quick introduction to the layout of the town on a map, I had convinced myself that I could find my way around and I was ready to start exploring, my first mission: to find my way back to the snack shop we had stopped at on our first day. My internship partner and I readied ourselves to walk into town and do some discovering in our new home before stopping for lunch again. Our first mistake: it was noon, and while that means “lunchtime” what it also means in Belize is “stay indoors and out of the sun at ALL costs”.
If I’ve done a good enough job of foreshadowing my lack of directional skills it should be obvious that we never did find that lunch shop that day. Not only that, but we got ourselves lost in the height – rather, the HEAT – of the day. That day was the first that I learned how easy it is to sweat through your shirt in 35 degrees and 90% humidity (something which I have since become very accustomed to). We had been walking for nearly 45 minutes when I realized that we had walked a circle, in fact, we had literally come full-circle and had ended up just a few blocks from our office where we had begun.
Today, after nearly 90 days living in PG, I always think back on this story with a smile, especially while I stroll past that same snack shop on my way to the market for some fresh fruit or to my favorite local café for a cold juice. Just days from now, when my time in PG comes to an end, I have the opportunity to go full-circle again, though in a very different way.
It is these connections which make my internship experience special. No matter how long I spend away, I know that I built connections with the people I met here and that when I return those connections will still exist; no matter how long I spend away, I know that when I return, I will still know how to navigate that winding road and all the potholes on the way into PG; most importantly, I know that my impact as an intern and volunteer will live on in these connections and in the work that the Maya people of Southern Belize continue to engage in every day.