Speaking Creole with the Stone Lady

How does one leMEI International Academy Study Abroad Pineapplesarn about another culture? From a book? The internet? From various stereotypes perpetuated by the media? Mon…ya tryin’ be funny? If you want to feel the pulse of a city, you need to talk to the locals!

Yesterday the crew truly experienced the world as their classroom when they were tasked with a San
Ignacio Scavenger Hunt: take 10 creative pictures each featuring a letter of the alphabet, ask locals to teach you a few phrases in Creole, and record yourself saying them. The prize? A highly coveted sleep in card.

Talking to locals is an interesting exercise in politeness, sensitivity, and observation. The crew did a great job respecting the locals and learning from them. Lynn, Jonah, Christian and Mia (who won the scavenger hunt!) received an unexpected history lesson from a local security guard who explained the slave origins of Creole. Many students came across a beautiful mural of a sun setting on a mango tree in which some mangos contained babies. Belizeans: The Mango Born. You better Belize we all had our fair share of fruit from the market!

In the late afterMEI International Academy Study Abroad Temple Morning Notenoon the crew learned about genetic mutation, something they’re all familiar with given how many students are still recovering from snorkeling burns! During English the crew received their first piece of literature since we arrived – George Orwell’s anti-colonialism classic, “Shooting an Elephant”. Do we feel sympathy for the weakness of the main character, or do we loathe him the way he loathes himself? It was a fantastic conversation!

MEI International Academy Study Abroad Temple ViewAre you a hero? Today, sitting amongst the Mayan ruins, avocado trees, and butterflies of Xunantunich (Shoonantoonitch), the crew reflected on that question for their Morning Note. It’s natural to shy away from that kind of title, but Joseph Campbell argues that we are all on our own Hero’s Journey. As individuals, within our own cultures, and as a species! We pondered this while dangling our feet over the edge of El Castillo, an ancient stone pyramid 120 feet above ground, where Mayan kings and spiritual leaders performed sacrifices. Hard not to feel the lingering power and responsibility those leaders carried as herMEI International Academy Study Abroad iPhone Riveroes of their people.

And we definitely all felt more powerful when we busted out into the Mayan Challenge at the feet of the ruins. What’s the Mayan Challenge you ask?! Only 100 sit ups, lunges, squats, push ups, and 5 minutes of plank in addition to morning workout, every day. Most of the crew has joined the challenge, including all the teachers. We get some funny looks from locals when we break out into squats, but it’s been keeping our spirits high and our quads sore (my quads anyway!).

Switching gears, this afternoon’s Biology lesson focused on Bio-Ethics & Technology! Is it okay to muscle up cows, and genetically modify foods? Both Bryn and Liz were impressed by how passionately students are already arguing over these interesting ethical conundrums. On Friday they will be debating the famous case of Nathaniel Woo – let the rebuttals begin!
Tonight’s creative writing workshop was a great success, the short stories are really coming along! And the crew is making major improvements in offering valuable, constructive feedback to one another. Can’t wait for Podcast day!
Tomorrow we continue our hero’s journey to the ATM Caves where we’ll be hiking, and swimming through caves. The adventure continues!

(A special shout out to Clark who has been taking some great photos for us! Unfortunately, it’s been challenging to get photos up to the blog. Check the Yearbook, they’ll be up once the internet starts behaving!)

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