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Student Reflection

Belize Student Reflection: Lydia Collier

Belize Student Reflection: Lydia CollierGlobal Field Program graduate student Lydia Collier shares her experiences and memories of the 2022 Earth Expeditions: Belize course. 

“On my flights to Belize, I was a wreck of nerves. Would I make friends with anyone? Would I be able to find everyone in the airport? Would the things I learned really resonate with me on a deep level? My thoughts on the way back, which I wrote about in my journal, were vastly different. Now, I was worried about how it would be getting back to real life. Would my new friends remain in my life? How would I begin to describe the experience I had with my friends and family back home? What helped me most was reflecting back on my journal entries and continuing to connect with my new friends over text. Knowing that I would have my memories forever through my journal and having people who were going through the same thing I was to support me helped me get through the first few weeks back.

The one most pivotal moment for me was speaking with Jessie Young, which I know is a critical moment for many of my peers as well. She was so willing to share all of her story and I found it especially inspiring that she worked a full-time job, raised children, and still managed to find time to run an entire sanctuary. Jessie Young is the definition of a role-model and someone I look up to as a woman in my local community. I hope to bring her level of passion and dedication for the environment and conservation to my community. 

I think one theme that stood out the most to me was community. Not only did we learn about the community of Belize and how to incorporate ideas that we learned from this experience into our individual communities at home, but we created a community amongst ourselves as an EE group. In the beginning, I was worried that I wasn't going to fit in with anyone since for the most part everyone is a teacher and I can be quiet when out of my comfort zone. However, we all bonded into one family and I felt like I had some kind of connection with everyone I met. I know that this experience would not have been the same without the people who were there, from late night games over drinks, to dancing the night away, to crying at the airport. I will truly never forget the community we built on this course. 

I think my comfort zone shifted over the duration of the 10 days. At first, I was comfortable when I was journaling or sitting quietly listening to discussions. Speaking in front of the group or even with individuals sometimes put me out of my comfort zone. In these moments, I would remind myself of the reason why I was here and remember that I do eventually come out of my shell. Once I found my group, being surrounded by these people gave me another layer of comfort zone. I felt like I could completely be myself, without any kind of judgment. When I was asked to step out of my comfort zone, I could now look to my friends for support.” 

Lastly, a poem. 

Belize, what a place.

Community meaning changed.

A warm, welcome space. 

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