Today was our fifth day in the schools, and as I start this week, it truly began to feel like the beginning of the end. I got hit hard today with the realization that we will all soon be heading back to our air conditioned homes, where we always have access to cold water, electronics and any food we may want. Meanwhile, these children will be staying here in Belize sleeping on their dirt floors in their hot and humid huts. What really hits me about this is that these children here are some of the happiest children I have met in my entire life. I’m still going back and forth on whether this is making the transition of heading back home easier or harder for me. It makes me so sad to think that they are so happy with next to nothing besides their family. However, I am relieved that they are so happy because this is the life that they know.
After school let out today, I got to walk through the village where the majority of the children from Red Bank live. The huts that I saw had dirt floors, cloth for doors and no electricity. I was able to stop and talk to a woman outside standing with her baby who had just gotten a bath. She explained to us that she had just gotten home from the doctor because her baby has a fever and an ear infection. The baby’s ear was swollen and red, yet they were outside in the heat simply because that is all they were able to do. Suddenly any complaint that I had said or heard on this trip was irrelevant. We are often picky because we have so many options in our own lives on a daily basis. I have found myself feeling guilty about what I have and not really wanting these all these things anymore.
At the end of my class today I read the book “Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons.” Throughout this book is the line “Buttons come and buttons go,” and at the end it says, “Stuff will come and stuff will go.” I found myself fighting back tears when reading this to the children. They were not the ones who needed to hear this, I was. These kids and this experience have shown me what truly matters in life. All of the materialistic and extra “stuff” is going to come and go. I have been given a different view on what I need to be happy in life and it could not have come at a better time as I prepare for my life and career after I graduate on Saturday.
This experience has changed my life in so many ways. I have learned more this past week than anyone could ever imagine. It is amazing to me how much the students value education and how well respected their teachers are. They do so much with so little and it has opened my eyes to the things that really matter in the world. Never again will I complain about being too hot or gripe when something doesn’t go my way. On another note, this experience has made me thankful for America’s FREE education system and the opportunities we are blessed with day in and day out. Although I was aware that the students here paid for their high school education, it didn’t mean much to me until I arrived at Georgetown and started working with my third form classes. The first day, I did a Q&A with my students (who would be considered juniors in America) and they were in shock that I went to high school for free. They then went on to ask if my school had one big fan or if each room had its own - - my stomach turned when I had to respond that all of our schools were air conditioned and students actually complain about being “too cold.” All in all, this has been an eye-opening experience to me and I have learned so much about myself as well as the world outside of Louisville, Kentucky.