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Belize Service Trip 2005by David McDonald '05
On the 2nd of January, the men of Society of '91 assembled in the parking lot of Blake A and prepared to embark on an experience that would ultimately bring them together and teach lessons on leadership and good hard work. Originally brought together several years ago by Dean of Students David Klein '79 and Ben Mathes, head of the international aid organization Rivers of the World, this Society of '91 and Rivers of the World sponsored trip focused on helping the Presbyterian Church in and around the town of Orange Walk. Past groups have helped build Rivers of the World buildings and others have assisted in the construction of churches. The 2005 Society of '91 trip to Belize was charged with laying the foundation for a church in the town of Saint Estevan. Assistant Deans of Admissions and ROW (Rivers of the World) enthusiasts Nicholas Beazley '03 and Wes Lawson '04 headed up the intrepid group of men that included James Miller '05, Matt Zaytoun 06, Jason Bart '07, Dave McDonald '05, Dustin Reynolds '05, Scott Dalton ''06, Will Powers ''05, Kieran Kobell '07, and Steven Crossland '06.
After a long drive through the night to Dulles, a connecting flight to Miami, and a flight over the Caribbean, the group landed in Belize and traveled to the town of Orange Walk - home of Sing Wong and the mighty Big Chicken. One of the delightful things about visiting a developing nation such as Belize is that processed, prepackaged food is rare and far between. Given three hours of prep time, Sing Wong and his wife made some of the best fried chicken you ever had. After a glorious night of Big Chicken, the group rested up for the next day's river tour and Mayan ruin excursion.
Following a sometimes frighteningly fast (Scott Dalton nearly met his end by a near miss with a passing tree branch) speedboat trip up country, the group explored the ancient Mayan ruins at Lamani. After making an Everest-esq. ascent, co-leader Wes Lawson required oxygen and words of encouragement mid-way to the top of one ruin. The entire group nearly perished on the way down due to treacherous footing and Dave McDonald's new found fear of heights.
After an exciting introduction to the ancient culture and history of Belize, it was time to get to work on the project the Society of '91 group was charged with: laying the foundation for a church in St. Estevan. After settling into Honey Camp, a small clearing on a very large and strikingly beautiful natural freshwater lagoon, the H-SC men got to work on the foundation.
By the end of the day almost half of the foundation was filled with fresh concrete. However, righteous intestinal tragedy was just around the corner...
After a day of hard work, the entire group of H-SC men was laid low by a treacherous intestinal bug that gave a new definition to "Technicolor Yawn." However, rather than being disheartened by this unfortunate turn of events, the H-SC men rallied, and a number of them went to the Presbyterian school in Orange Walk to play with little kids and watch Nick Beazley's ROW presentation. With all of the members hale and hearty after loosing several pounds of water weight to the intestinal nasty, the H-SC men left Honey Camp to spend several days in Cay Caulker.
Cay Caulker is a dot of an island off the coast of Belize that plays host to all sorts of Jimmy Buffet wanna-be's who enjoy snorkeling, diving, and living with no worries. Here the H-SC men stuffed themselves with conch fritters and snorkeled with a variety of sea animals that could have caused them serious bodily harm.
As a member of the trip, I believe that even with the setback of sickness, the entire group came together under the leadership of Nick Beazley and Wes Lawson and found the objective of the entire endeavor, learning how to lead under different and pressuring circumstances. Make sure you vigorously shake the hand of any one of these intrepid young men on campus.