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Loyola students run summer camp in Belize

September 3, 2010

Arlene Imendia with her students at the Belize Summer Camp 2010.

Fourteen Loyola University New Orleans students participating in the Ignacio Volunteer program recently returned from facilitating a two-week summer camp in Belize. The Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, led the service immersion trip, along with staff Andrew Ryan, Jesuit Center fellow, and student Eric Walsh,’10.

More than 250 primary school students participated in the camp, which was held in the rural Caribbean coastal town of Dangriga. Each class had a local Belizean and a Loyola student co-teaching. Classes were held in arts and crafts, English and math each morning while basketball, soccer and volleyball were held on the school’s playing fields each afternoon.

The volunteers spent the spring semester preparing for the trip intellectually, financially and spiritually, learning about Belizean culture and the people they would serve, fundraising for travel and participating in local community service. This is the 17th year Fr. Dziak has facilitated this summer camp in Dangriga, Belize.

The goal of the program is to provide an international volunteer service opportunity for Loyola students while exposing them to pressing economic and sociological issues in the Caribbean and the developing world.

“Six months ago, I was aware that a small country called Belize existed. I was aware that there were people who lived there. I was aware that there was a town called Dangriga. I was aware that poverty existed in this town and that the people there led a very different life than I did. I was aware of all these things, but it was not until I actually experienced these places and cultures that I actually gained knowledge of them,” said James McBride, one of the student volunteers.

During their time in Belize, the Ignacio Volunteers were able to immerse themselves in the Belizean culture, visiting the Mayan ruins and the rain forest, swimming in local rivers and jumping off waterfalls and visiting local caves off the coast.

Further trips to Jamaica and Belize and other locations are planned for 2010 and 2011. Recruitment for next summer’s Belize camp will begin in November.

For more information on the Ignacio Volunteers Program, visit the website http://mm.loyno.edu/volunteer-service/ignacio-volunteer-programs or email igvols@loyno.edu.

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