Belize Business Service Learning Project
You will choose one of two tracks: entrepreneurial or job skills. We will work with the Orange Walk Institute of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ITVET). ITVET opened its doors in March of 2006, and has grown into a prominent center for vocational instruction. The school offers training in mechanical engineering, masonry, carpentry, electrical work, English language, mathematics, technical drawing and information technology. We will create a curriculum that covers business plan creation, goal setting and presentation skills. We will work with 30-40 ITVET students, helping to train and facilitate entrepreneurship discussions and a student presentation to the Belize Youth Business Trust. The curriculum will include at least four hours of instruction each day.
Day Trips/Activities: Lamanai Archaeological Site/River Tour; Banquitas House of Culture
Accommodations are at the Hotel Del Fuente in Orange Walk
Safety and Health
Safety and Health
Awareness is key! Always be aware of personal and group possessions and your surroundings.
- Pickpockets – zippers and buttons on side and back pockets vs. front pockets
- Day pack and backpacks – place valuables in deep interior pockets vs. external pockets
- Never leave bags unattended.
- Spread your money out and know where it is.
- Maintain physical contact with possessions when seated and standing.
- “TYV!” (Touch Your Valuables – a command you’ll hear in crowded places).
- Don’t drink the water (varies by country).
- Only eat fruit with thick rinds or vegetables served steaming hot (varies by country).
- Blend into the local population and try to dispel the negative American stereotypes. There’s no reason to stand out more as a target for pickpockets. Avoid as much as possible the U.S. “uniform” of baseball caps, t-shirts, shorts, tennis shoes, and white socks
- The three biggest risks abroad are alcohol, petty theft and minor illness
- Alcohol is the cause of most problems!
- Pickpockets are everywhere and VERY professional. Secure your documents, have multiple copies of passport and credit card info including a set stateside. Never leave bags unattended or easily accessible, especially in dense tourist areas.
- Be careful in traffic, observe rules, patterns and even traffic flow, which may be different from U.S. practices.
- It’s best to travel with someone and never alone, especially for women at night.
Nurse Katzin recommends: Hepatitis A, flu shot, tetanus (if you haven’t had one in 10 years), maybe typhoid and possibly malaria. Cipro fluoxacin antibiotic (need a prescription) for travelers diarrhea, $25 clinic fee plus cost of shots. To get the complete recommendations for you as an individual, contact the Allergy and Immunization Clinic to make an appointment 475-8301. Big Shots is a clinic run by Travis County, which has shots for reduced prices.
Some insurance companies will cover shots.
The McCombs Global Service Trip to Belize will take place during UT's Spring Break. Specific dates TBD. During the trip the following experiences will occur:
- Work with ITVET students teaching business curriculum 4 hours each day
- Experience a Belize excursion
- Visit local businesses and industries
- Dine at local restaurants
- Participate in Orange Walk, Belize community service
Food for Thought
- Don’t expect things to be like they are here; you’re going to a new country for a reason so appreciate the diversity in culture, customs and way of life.
- Culture shock is normal and will pass.
- Think about stereotypes about Americans. What you do will dispel or reinforce these attitudes when you go abroad. You are an ambassador for your school and country at all times, and people will judge you based on your behavior.
- Keep your parents updated on how you are doing and if you are experience culture shock, assure them it will pass so they don’t worry for a prolonged amount of time.
- Observe local rules, be courteous and respectful and realize that things will not work the way you think they should. Most other countries are more formal in their interpersonal communication that in the U.S.
- Take the initiative to interact with the locals instead of sticking with your U.S. friends only.
- The Golden Rule: Respect and Sensitivity.
- Please and Thank Yous.
- Quiet conversations.
- Don’t block doorways and passages (especially with a large group).
- No littering.
- Always clean up after yourself.
Students attending the trip will be required to complete the following forms:
- UT International Office Emergency Medical Form
- UT International Office Release and Indemnification Form
- UT International Office Travel Insurance Form
- McCombs Medical Release Form
- Peaceworks Medical Release Form
In addition to the above forms, students will also be required to secure a valid passport with at least 6 months left before expiration.
What do students have to say about the Belize Trip? Read Robert Caldwell's reflection after attending the Belize trip in 2016. Robert graduated LP in 2016.
Participating in the Peaceworks Belize program was one of the defining moments of my college career, in terms of the things I learned about myself, working and communicating with others as a team, and the relationships I built during my time there. All of these things contributed in helping me realize not only the blessings I was born into compared to other countries and cultures in the world, but also the potential I have in helping others globally. I was a blank slate before the Belize trip; I was aware there were cultures and living conditions outside of my own, and that those conditions can play a role in someone’s dreams and priorities, and I knew the buzzwords associated with making a change in the world, but I didn’t have much experience with putting these free-flowing thoughts in my mind into action. From the moment we arrived at the Belize City airport, I noticed the lack of the infrastructure I’m used to. From listening to the mayor of Orange Walk and Orlando de la Fuente, I got a better idea of how the economic environment of Belize, and the barriers preventing business growth, effected the lives of Belizeans. And when I conversed with the ITVET students, whom all want to develop their trade skills to repair and build upon their communities, I realized how circular their lives are tied to their country and their people, and conversely, how much our lives in the states are tied to the companies we work for. Seeing how the environment the students and leaders of Belize lived in shaped their passions brought a lot of insight into how I saw their culture, as well as my own for the first time, but more importantly, it showed the potential that I have in shaping and helping their lives. Talking with the students we were teaching showed me the value the skills I’ve acquired at McCombs have in their goals and aspirations, which inspired me to become a better teacher, and created a feedback loop. As the days went on, I noticed all of my group having the same energy to help the students to the best of our ability. And seeing the confidence and the knowledge that the students showed on the final day made it all worth it. While I have often heard the phrase ‘citizen of the world’ throughout high school and college, the Belize trip was the first time I really understood what it meant to be one, which is an invaluable thing to discover, and something that won’t be easily forgotten.
Below are some helpful tips and resources to aid in your travel to Orange Walk, Belize.
- When traveling, leave a detailed itinerary with your resident director, advisor, parent, or responsible party. This will be useful if something happens and you need to be found.
- Have a photocopy of all important documents (passport, traveler’s checks, credit cards, prescriptions) in case these items are lost or stolen.
- Register your travel plans with the U.S. Department of State before you go! Your Information will be available to embassy personnel in-country if you were to be in need of their assistance.
- Belize currency is fixed at a rate: 2 Belize dollars = 1 US dollar. You can use US dollars to pay for things in Belize. There are several banks in Orange Walk and you can use ATMs to take out Belizean money. Several larger stores will accept credit cards (mainly Visa and MasterCard) with minimum purchase limits, but they are often not accepted among smaller vendors.
Study Abroad Office contact
- SAO Emergency Line (24 hours): 512-669-8488
- SAO Front Desk (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., US Central Time): 512-471-6490
- SAO email(answered 24/7 by SAO staff)