You Better

Stephanie - Davis, California
Entered on May 7, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that bettering the world in the little way that we can, will lead us to more fulfilling and rewarding lives. We could start with something as small as giving our spare change to a homeless person. Perhaps you become the next Brad and Angelina, who donate millions of dollars to various programs and have several adopted children from less fortunate countries. I become fulfilled by donating a small bit of my paycheck or allowance towards an organization that donates to the country of Belize. This began shortly after 2003, when charity was all the rage. After attending a conference about developing countries I learned a lot specifically about Belize. I immediately became drawn to this country for its beauty and culture and yet it is so poor. I instantly felt this desire to help and make a difference. I never imagined how it would affect me or the person I am today.

When I was given the opportunity to travel to Belize on a service trip, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Just as I imagined, Belize was beautiful. The waters alone were so clear and blue. Traveling from island to island by boat, I felt the brisk wind run through my hair as we glided across the sparkling waters; I gained me a new appreciation for nature.

The year of preparation for this trip gave me the opportunity to truly give up my time and my self. The group that accompanied me on this trip did lots to prepare. From fundraising to preparing our lesson plans for the school we would be teaching at, full commitment was necessary. Through the preparation and journey of this trip, I had to be selfless and spend my time very wisely. The time before we arrived in Belize seemed endless. Belize City was where I got the opportunity to teach the students. We taught at the school Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Ladyville, Belize.

It gave me gratification to see the smiles on the children’s faces every day we drove up to school. Our group was able to spoil them with candy and school supplies, but we enjoyed one another’s company much more. We were only there for a week, yet we bonded quite quickly. Although I’m not supposed to say this, I had a favorite student. Dijahn would walk into class every day and plant herself in the desk right in front of me. She would enthusiastically say, “Blue, blue, blue. God loves you.” Dijahn’s mom was in jail and Dijahn had nothing to look forward to. Yet, she always came in to class and brightened up my day. The students impacted me greatly, and I will never forget them.

I have benefitted in ways I never would have imagined. I was able to experience the actual culture and loveliness of Belize. The opportunity to interact with the children was enjoyable, and I was also able to communicate with the people of the villages. Even with their entire financial and economic struggle, they provided me with comfort and joy. I felt so loved and welcome. Already, I feel that I have received my reward. I have been granted this experience so that I could help them and to continue to help them in the future. I could not receive a greater gift.