Mar 072007
Authors: Emily Lance

Belize is often advertised for its beautiful environment and tourist appeal, but it’s also poverty stricken.

To help alleviate the suffering, CSU students will be traveling to Belize to tutor school children in English literacy skills, lead arts, crafts and recreation for Spring Break.

The group will also be helping to construct a playground in Corozal, a town along the northern coastline of the country.

“The government and school system has asked for help with literacy,” said Peggy Christiansen, pastor at the Geller Center, which is a Christian ministry on campus. “We will be helping in an area with the poorest children and the least amount of resources.”

Christiansen will be leading 13 people, 11 CSU students and a high school student and community member to Belize. Christiansen is excited about the diverse group of people traveling together, predominately freshmen and sophomores, compared to the past group of upper classmen.

Maria Torres, sophomore natural resources major, said she’s looking forward to interacting with children in another country.

“We will learn more than we are going to teach,” she said. “The group will also be going through a lot together, learning to laugh together.”

Belize, a country on the southeast corner of Mexico, contains a hot and humid climate, covered with heavily forested swampy costal plains.

Torres had to take malaria pills and hepatitis shots to prepare for the trip, but is anticipating the atmosphere nevertheless.

“I am looking forward to the plants and animals more than anything,” she said. “There is an untouched rainforest there.”

Spencer Heinemann, sophomore computer engineering major, has only been out of the country once but has been doing research to prepare for the culture shock.

“I am expecting a completely different melting pot than here,” Heinemann said. “It is something worthwhile and more beneficial than sitting on a beach drinking beer.”

Heinemann and Torres have been participating in the weekly “Food for Thought” group at the Geller Center, a Wednesday night gathering and discussion about current issues. The two decided to go on the trip after their involvement in the group.

“I will be broadening my worldview,” Heinemann said. “We will see things on the news but now we will see first hand the most important things the world is facing.”

Staff writer Emily Lance can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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