09/28/2018

Student Shares Experience in Belize

 To the town of Dangriga, Belize:

 I must say my life hasn’t been the same since I visited you -- but in the absolute best way.   

 I’m not sure whether it was your sandy roads or hot weather...or maybe it was your unexpected rain and the   mosquitoes to match.   It actually may be the loud music that played until three in the morning right across the street   at the local bar because I keep replaying every day in my head as if they are the lyrics to my favorite song.

 There’s something about the way that the hot weather was overcome by a cool, strong breeze by about seven or eight   at night...so refreshing...so necessary...just like my entire experience.   When I begin to think about it, it actually may   have been the food -- never a bad meal just like there was never a bad moment -- which was so rich in taste and so different than the food that I’m used to eating. 

There’s also something about your culture, Dangriga, that makes me feel alive inside. It’s so raw and so genuine...so rich...your people are so rich in culture and were so willing to let us be a part of it.   I fall into a trance watching the young boys dance the Junkanoo...I could watch it forever and never get tired of it.  Are they aware, Dangriga?  Your young boys?  When they dance the Junkanoo? Are they aware of the history that they shared with us…. that they left with us? Are they aware of their ancestors’ anger, pride, and resiliency that they carry when they dance the Junkanoo? 

How I wish to be a part of your culture and to dance the Junkanoo. Your culture is so beautiful and precious...it shouldn’t be shown to anyone who isn’t aware of its value and beauty. 

And your beaches...the sound of your waves crashing into the sand soothes my mind.  Every night, I went to your beaches...just to clear my mind...to think about anything and everything and some nights to think about nothing...to get away from all the noise and stresses of my home in America.  Now that I am back, I can still hear your waves crashing into the sand...still serving their purpose of soothing my mind. 

I’m still amazed by your ability to make me feel the most comfortable as well as uncomfortable at the same time that I have ever felt in my entire life.  I felt like I fit right in with your people and I had the best time of my life even though I had none of the amenities that I enjoy back home...do I really enjoy them or do they just add to the noise? I haven’t looked at my phone the same since I’ve been back...my attachment to it is no longer. 

With all this being said Dangriga, I think I may finally may know what it is about you….it is your children. Your children are beautiful...so pure and amazing and intelligent and hilarious and outgoing, and independent and brave...so fearless. They are your future Dangriga...how lucky you are to have a future so bright that it has even burned a hole in my heart that I am absolutely grateful to have. 

Your children, Dangriga…. I could never forget them and how they made me feel and what they taught me. How funny that they taught me more than I could ever teach them...that they had a much grander effect on me than I could ever have on them. My love for them and for you, Dangriga, is irreplaceable...eternal...indescribable. 

My heart is full of the love that you and your people have shown me, Dangriga, yet it aches for the fact that I had to leave you. It’s missing a piece ya know...my heart that is...I left a piece of it there with you, Dangriga.

But I don’t want it back, no. It’s yours forever to keep.

____________________________

 Kaila Anthony is a member of Loyola’s Women’s Basketball team, and was one of eleven Loyola scholar-athletes from   eight different varsity teams who traveled to the town of Dangriga, Belize (July 16-August 7, 2018). The Wolf Pack   volunteers facilitated a two-week Summer Camp for local primary school children, teaching math/English/ arts&crafts   in the mornings and coaching basketball, soccer and volleyball in the afternoons. 

The program was led by Father Ted   Dziak, S.J., Vice-President for Mission and Identity with a staff of Loyola alumni,  Joseph Goddu (’08) and Madeleine   Janney (’17) and former LoyNO staff Edwin Madera.  

                                               
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