St. Catharine College has made some opening moves in what could well become ongoing opportunities with partners in the Caribbean nation of Belize. In 2012, Candace Littlejohn, a teacher candidate in the elementary school program, did field teaching and her senior capstone project at St. Joseph Primary School in Belize City (www.stjoseph.edu.bz) . From the faculty, Sr. Angela Shaughnessy, dean of the Graduate School and director of the Education Law Institute, provides professional training to principals from the nation’s Catholic schools. It may well be the case that these contacts are growing; at least that is the hope of Sr. Angie and Dr. David Arnold, dean of the School for Professional Studies.
This March, Sr. Angie returned to Belize City to offer another professional development session and this time Dr. Arnold went along on the trip to explore possible academic partnerships. While there, Arnold met with several key people. In four crowded days he met with the manager of the national Catholic School system, the dean and assistant academic dean of St. John’s College, an associate-level college, and the director for secondary education from the Ministry of Education and then traveled to meet with the director of the University of Belize Research Farm. Possibilities explored in wide-ranging discussions included future teacher education placements, a partnership with St. John’s College for work on bachelor-level teacher education and partnerships between SCC’s new farming and ecological agrarianism degree and the University of Belize research farm.
St. John’s College, Belize City
The possibility of developing and funding short-term student course and internship exchanges in education, agriculture, and community leadership is exciting.
“It is a marvelous country for this. There is so much to be done and also so much to be learned there,” Arnold said.
“My teaching residency in Belize was a life-changing experience. It will have a profound effect on my career in education,” she said.
“And some of the barriers you worry about in foreign partnerships are low,” Arnold pointed out. “Belize isn’t that far away. It’s a beautiful place, it’s relatively inexpensive, the major language is English and the people – the people—they are just so amazingly open and cheerful.”
Located on the Caribbean Coast of Central America, Belize, the former British Honduras, gained independence in 1981 and is a member of the British Commonwealth. The country is noted for not only the diversity of its landscape and beautiful sea coast, but also for its progressive concern with environmental quality and sustainability. So, maybe a trip to the Caribbean to do some teaching, get hands-on with a sustainable organic farm, or maybe explore the ecology of tropical jungles or the second-largest coral barrier reef system in the world could be on the horizon for SCC students. Stand by.