Service project offers students chance to make a difference in Central America

Kate Clark

The second of three interest meetings will be held for the Belize service project at 7p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 in the Back Room of the University Center.The program’s tentative dates are Sunday, March 2 through Saturday, March 8, over spring break. It will cost around $2200 to participate.Kristi Evans, news director in NMU Communications Office, will be co-leading the trip. This will be her first time leading a program.

In 2011, students traveled to Belize to repaint El Progresso, a local school. (Photo courtesy of Jenna Talcott)
In 2011, students traveled to Belize to repaint El Progresso, a local school. ( Photo courtesy of Jenna Talcott)

According to Evans, studying abroad in college changed her life in many positive ways and she encourages students to do it.

“It’s incredibly valuable to travel outside one’s comfort zone and immerse yourself in another culture, even briefly,” Evans said.

The Belize trip takes place in the town of St. Ignacio where students will volunteer at the youth center. According the Evans student volunteers will tutor, mentor, teach health education and explore the arts.

Senior art education major Jenna Talcott went on the Belize service trip in 2011.

“I decided to do it because I had never been to another country before,” Talcott said. “It seemed like a great way to visit a whole other part of the world and explore a whole new culture.”

They stayed in a bunkhouse built for them by “American ex-pats” that overlooked a river in the jungle, she said.

After working in the morning, they spent afternoons hiking, horseback-riding, cliff-diving and visiting tourist sites. They even canoed under Barton Creek Cave, known as the “Mayan’s Gateway to the Underworld,” she said.

According to NMU’s volunteer abroad webpage, interested students must be involved in the Superior Edge program. While the program does not offer academic credit, it does give students the opportunity to travel and help others over their spring break.

“This is a general-interest opportunity, so students from any academic major are encouraged to participate,” Evans said. “We are looking for people who want a spring break that combines service to others, cultural exploration, self-discovery, group-building activities and some fun.”

The next meeting will take place Wednesday, Oct. 23. Interested students can download an application and find more information at