Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Edison Community College studies abroad in Belize

Edison Community College’s first eco study abroad tour takes travelers to Belize.
Recently, travelers taking part in Edison Community College’s first eco study abroad tour left the then still frigid weather and farm country of the Miami Valley and within hours were riding on dirt roads in vans through the jungles of Belize where temperatures were in the mid eighties.

Tour leaders, Edison’s Eileen Thompson, Associate Professor of English, and Steve Sykes, Professor of Manufacturing and Industry Management, had prepared the group for the March adventure with seminars where participants learned about Belize history, literature, architecture, and wildlife.

At the Cotton Tree Lodge, Edison students, faculty members and area community members were treated to three-course dinners of local cultural foods prepared with attention to the preferences of travelers.

Travelers slept under mosquito netting, and Thompson reports, “The first night I thought I heard the roar of lions. Thankfully, I learned it was howler monkeys.” On a more serious note, Thompson says, “Our Edison group now has a foundation for learning more about the mysteries and treasures of the Mayans who ruled for over 1,000 years in Central America.”

Trips to Mayan ruins with a Mapo Mayan guide, scuba diving, snorkeling, tortilla-and chocolate-making classes, caving at the Blue Creek Wet Cave, and a sunset bird watching ride on the Moho River were some of the highlights of the tour.

Joan Heidelberg, Director Emeritus of the Brukner Nature Center, indicates with excitement, “We saw 73 species of birds during our stay. With two excellent birdwatchers as our guides, I enjoyed seeing some in our group who had never been too interested in watching birds get very excited with every new one pointed out by them.”

Kelli Watercutter, a recent graduate of Edison’s registered nursing program traveled with the group to Belize. “The tour was more survival than I had expected. We are so accustomed to cell phones, the Internet, and fast food. Although I enjoyed the cuisine of nothing deep-fried, fresh fruits, chicken, rice and beans, I found myself craving pizza and Taco Bell.” The favorite part of the tour for her son, A.J., age 9, was cooling off from the heat and the sun at the end of each day in the Moho River. Wattercutter says that, “he, and most on the tour, loved swimming in the river at night.”

The next Edison study abroad tour will travel to France in March of 2016. College credit is available and students, faculty and community members who are interested in traveling should check Edison’s web site for information as it becomes available. Age requirement is 18 or older; adults must accompany children age 17 and younger. The tours work well for multi-generational families and flights can be arranged from various U.S. cities to Paris.

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