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Belize Student Reflection: Charles Ruff

Belize Student Reflection: Charles Ruff

Belize Student Reflection: Charles RuffGlobal Field Program student Charles Ruff shares his experiences and memories of the 2022 Earth Expeditions: Belize course. 


“I honestly feel like I talk about Belize all the time! Just this weekend I printed a few more pictures to hang up in my classroom and with every picture comes a new story that I can share with my students. There are so many memories that it would take days to list them but here are a few of my favorites along with some of my favorite people.

Top 10 Expedition Memories

Top 10 Fun Memories

10. Seeing the leaf cutter ants every single night. (Just something small that you take for granted )

10. Learning that Kevin and Dave already had the conversation of who is Dad and who is Mom.

9. Learning about the Mayan culture and exploring Altun-Ha

9. Jamming with everyone on the bus only to take a sudden trip to the Shire.

8. Looking for Manatees with Jamal and learning his story. 

8. If you ever need a moment to just laugh. Talk to Val. She will find something funny out of nowhere and you’ll spend the next hour laughing about it!

7. Experiencing all the Belizean dishes with Marie Sharp. Honestly the food should be #1 compared to any EE.

7. Playing the drums and watching everyone dance on the last night. It was hot as all get out! Kevin tore up the dance floor. 

6. Zoo tours! Especially the night zoo tour and getting to see the tapirs. Nightlife at the zoo is so active!

6. Sprinting up the ruins with Travis after eating tamales and not drinking enough water. Realizing that it was a bad decision two steps up..

5. Learning about Creole culture and dancing with everyone to traditional Creole music

5. Becoming best buds with Kat, talking sports and planning trips with Steph, and making eye contact with Carl after something awkward happens just to burst out laughing! 

4. Runaway Creek Trail and seeing the wild monkeys. Exploring the caves was epic!

4. Breaking and entering with your professors because your air conditioner is broken. 

3. Community Baboon Sanctuary and listening to Conway and Jesse Young talk about community conservation.

3. Lydia falling through the chair and everyone just sitting there sweating. Glad you’re ok Lyd!

2.  Learning about Belize from different folks not directly hands on with the EE.

2. Playing games! When you play two truths and a lie you start to learn a LOT about people. Travis has got some stories!

1. Night Snorkeling in the Tobacco Caye with Peter seeing all the different species.

1. Connecting with a close group of friends and sharing our experience together on the last night with lots of laughs and tears.


Community continued to be a common theme with every experience. Of course I was amazed by the diverse landscape but I think what inspired me more was the amount of people involved in conservation. Everywhere we went it seemed that there were people in all walks of life giving their all to promote ecotourism and conservation. Each person we met was also so knowledgeable of their local plants and animals. I feel like that knowledge is missing from many of our community members in different parts of the US. How much do we know about our landscape? Is there still this stereotype of a scientist as a man in a lab coat? One thing I would like to take back is the wholeness of the community and apply it to my area. Regardless of age, sex, degree, job, or anything, I want people to see the value in community conservation no matter your background. I loved being able to hear from everyone on our EE but I also loved talking with folks that weren't necessarily a part of the trip and seeing what conservation looks like through their eyes. 

What is a comfort zone? Surely it has nothing to do with used toilet paper sitting in a trash can or asking a stranger to rub sunscreen all over your back right? I think it is safe to say we all came out of our comfort zone even if it was not by choice. I think I was first challenged when I was the last to arrive! Waiting in the customs line drove me insane but I was able to hold my composure! When I finally made it out I was so relieved and genuinely happy to see all of these excited and exhausted faces. It didn't take long to make friends and it was honestly pretty easy! The hardest part was making it through the week missing my son. Luckily technology has advanced so I was able to FaceTime him! There were times that I felt homesick but as I got closer to different members of my group Belize started to feel like home and I wouldn't trade that community for anything.

There is no doubt in my mind that if I could go back and do it all over again then I would! I wouldn't change anything about it. This is my last year participating in EE as I will graduate in December and I think I could not have ended in a better way. This experience only changed the way that I viewed the world. I found myself promoting more conservation based education in my classroom and I am finding that my students are having more success when they are a part of the big picture instead of just looking through a lens! I would encourage anyone to go to Belize as well as connect with Celso when you get back home! There are so many opportunities for people anywhere to connect with!”



I wish I could go back to Belize every year

Meet all my friends from far and near.

Bugs on my neck. SMACK!

Eat all the fry jacks

And end each night with a cheer


Learn more about our Earth Expeditions course: Belize: Approaches to Environmental Stewardship.