‘We became like family’
A 14-day trip to a rural village in Belize left a lasting impression on two dozen Langley Secondary Grade 11 and 12 students, who chose to spend their spring break fixing up a school and interacting with kids there.
The LSS group, which included three teachers, were greeted by students of Double Head Cabbage School in Belize with an assembly and a skit. The skit was put on by the students there who speak and write Creole, but are able to speak some English.
“We had no idea what they were saying but it was funny,” said Grade 12 LSS student Jacquelyn McComb.
“They were really shy at first but pretty quickly we all got along. They talk so fast though.”
Within the first two days, the group of LSS students had painted the entire interior of the school and two murals on the outside of the high school.
The LSS students then went on to begin pouring concrete beams and build trusses for the roof of an outdoor eating area.
The school has four grades, and all Belize children pay to attend class and bus up to three hours each way to get there.
“They have to pay a lot to go to school,” said McComb.
The LSS students gave workshops on leadership, recycling and communication, giving them an opportunity to really interact with the kids.
“It was interesting because we think of leadership in terms of good organizational skills and they were focused on being loving and brave,” said Grade 12 student Ellen Banackhio.
The Langley students slept on the concrete floor of the school every night and were greeted by rats, tarantulas, praying mantises and cockroaches. Not to mention the mosquitoes, which munched on the new blood day and night.
“I have at least 50 bites,” said Grade 12 student Heather Littlejohn.
All the students had to take malaria pills.
But despite the more raw living conditions than they are used to, the group wouldn’t have changed anything about their experiences.
“After sleeping with 20 girls in a room together for 14 nights and coming home to a room by myself, it was kind of lonely,” remarked Littlejohn.
“We became like family,” said McComb.
If they could sum up what they took away from their experience in Belize and seeing how people from a poorer part of the world live, it is the remarks of student Cassidy Northway, they said.
“You don’t really need a lot as long as you are surrounded by great people,” said Northway.
Teacher Michael Carlyle organizes the trip to Belize every two years.
“These students have set the bar pretty high. They worked so hard,” he said.