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Belize Business Service Learning Project

Ruins in Belize

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

  • 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 as shots for reduced prices http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/health/immunization_clinics.htm

    Some insurance companies will cover shots.

    Agenda

    The 2015 McCombs Global Service Trip to Belize will take place March 16 - March 22. 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

    Culture

    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

      Currency

      • Belize currency is fixed at a rate: 2 Belize dollars = 1 US dollar
      • You can use US dollars to pay for things in Belize (although it's hard to get change when using large bills of any currency in Belize).
      • Belizeans do not accept US coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies) and all change will be given in Belize dollars.
      • There are several banks in Orange Walk and you can use ATMs to take out Belizean money (if you use Bank of America, you can avoid fees by using Scotia Bank ATMs).
      • Several larger stores will accept credit cards (mainly Visa and MasterCard) with minimum purchase limits, but they are often not accepted among smaller vendors.
      • Money – If foreign currency, you should exchange some money at your local U.S. bank before you leave. That way you can avoid excessive rates at the airport. The cheapest way to withdraw money is using the ATM in the country. Call your bank before going to notify them that you are traveling outside of the U.S. because they will sometimes be suspicious of out-of-country transactions and might freeze your account. Travelers checks are not as popular anymore and most places accept credit cards. The best rates and prices are usually given when paying with cash.

      Required Forms

       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.

      Additional Information

      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.

      Study Abroad Office contact

      Helpful travel information from McCombs International Programs

      Helpful Travel and Resource Links 

      Media, news, shopping, weather: http://www.belizemall.com/

      Newspaper: http://www.amandala.com.bz/

      Hotel : http://www.hoteldelafuente.com/

      Travel health: http://www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu/travel/index.html