Fieldtrips & Travel
Fieldtrips are an important part of the CCSP Belize experience. Being the only English-speaking country in Central America, students are able to engage both inside and outside of class with local people and places without the handicap of a language barrier. The freedom to engage in English with both Caribbean and Central American cultures is unique to Belize, and as such CCSP takes full advantage of this opportunity through fieldtrip and travel experiences throughout the semester.
Fieldtrips Throughout Belize:
At CCSP we recognize that learning does not just come from being in a classroom, but through experience and reflection. Thus we are intentional about making our courses as field based as possible and then taking those experiences and integrating them with concepts and theories learned through lecture time.
Every course has some field component that enhances the class. For instance, in our forest ecology class students spend their time in the jungles of Cockscomb Wildlife Preserve in the Maya Forest, the second largest contiguous rainforest in the New World. For Marine ecology the week is spent snorkeling off the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, and exploring one of the only atolls in the Atlantic. Students visit a variety of places during their Sustainable Community Development course, including Mayan, Mennonite, Kriol and Mestizo villages, women’s co-ops, and ecotourism sites. Even for our humanities courses in Environmental Literature and God and Nature time is spent outside of the traditional classroom or lecture context allowing for a more full and robust exploration of these topics.
Sunset Snorkeling on the Marine Ecology Fieldtrip (Photo: Jonathan Schelander-Pugh)
Students participate in several homestays during the semester. Most of these experiences related to classes are short-term stays, however during Internships, they are two weeks in length. Homestays are for both cultural immersion and pedagogical purposes related to our classes. Locations include the homes of local Belizean families, Old Order Mennonites, families in a northern sugar cane village, and a home close to internship locations.
Local Village Boy (Photo: Joel Vermillion)
Mid-Semester Break begins following a trip to Tikal, one of the largest Mayan ruins in Central America. Campus is closed during the break, which makes this a great time to head to locations not visited by the program in the region. Students often choose to continue their travels in Guatemala, taking buses down to the once capital of colonial Central America – Antigua, or to the black sand beaches of Monterrico on the Pacific coast. Some students have even headed into Honduras to the south or Mexico to the north. Students have also taken this opportunity to travel out to the Caribbean islands and coral reefs off the coast of Belize where English pirates once hid from Spanish galleons. Students interested in working on their Spanish have also chosen to use this week to do some intensive and fairly inexpensive Spanish school in Flores, Guatemala accompanied by a homestay experience.
Visiting Tikal in Guatemala, the "New York" of Maya Civilization. (Photo: Joel Vermillion)
CCSP does not permit students to travel alone during weekend trips or semester break – travel must always be with at least one other person.