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February, 2014

WIN-WIN TRIP

Service learning trip rewarding to students and instructors
Gateway Horticulture instructor Courtney Pfad in Belize

Photo by: Chinedu Obowu

Gateway Horticulture instructor Courtney Pfad has the attention of youngsters in Belize. Pfad asked the kids to draw colorful pictures of a garden as part of a learning tool.

Gateway took 18 students and three instructors to Belize for a service learning project in Orange Walk, Belize, recently. Instructors and students came from Information Technology, Nursing, and Horticulture programs. The Gateway group partnered with “Peacework,” which handled the logistics and planning with the local community. 

Students led classes and worked with community members on several projects. For example, Information Technology students gave free computer diagnostics, analysis and repairs to the local community members and schools. They also educated elementary school students on computer safety.

The Nursing students partnered with the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council to coordinate a program at two of the area high schools. The Nursing students also coordinated a health fair in the Village of Santa Martha.

“The most valuable part of the trip was leaving the world that I was so familiar with and traveling across the world to a completely different country,” said Nursing student Krystal Mazulla. “I was immersed in the culture of Belize and its people and I was truly blown away by the similarities and differences when comparing Belize to the U.S. It was a truly eye-opening experience. I came home with a fresh new perspective on how blessed we truly are as Americans and with an amazing group of friends, some of whom I would consider family after our time in Belize together. My experience has made me a more well-rounded person and a more culturally sensitive nurse.”

Horticulture instructor Courtney Pfad took three  Horticulture students to Belize. Pfad had her students create lesson plans, so they themselves would become instructors. They improved on a garden which was erected on the previous year’s trip and worked with the Belize High School of Agriculture in implementing alternative growing methods.

“We got just as much out of it as we gave,” said Gateway student Tom Penzkowski,who joined fellow Horticulture students Sarah Russell and Amber Schweninger on the trip.

“We had to take a class in culture and in Spanish before going and that made the transition over there much easier,” added Schweninger.

Pfad said that the Gateway traveling party and the people they interacted with in Belize each had valuable experiences. “They are already looking forward to us coming back next year,” she said.

“My experience has made me a more well-rounded person and a more culturally sensitive nurse.”
Krystal Mazulla
Nursing student