San Ignacio, Belize, February 05, 2012 -- During the "winter" break for colleges and universities in North America, the Institute of Sustainable International Studies hosted a group of students from Belize, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United States. The students took one of three courses: The Business of Eco-tourism, Bones and Stones: The Peoples and Archaeology of Belize or Wildlife of Belize: Biology and Conservation.
This diverse group of students came from Ohio State University, Mississippi State, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Florida, University of Illinois, Penn State University, Christopher Newport University, Memphis State University, Columbia and Shenandoah University.
Their activities included visits to the Belize Zoo, the Community Baboon Sanctuary, Belize Bird Rescue, Cahal Pech, Caracol and Xuanantunich Maya archaeological sites, and government agencies such as Beltraide, the Belize Tourism Board and the Protected Areas Conservation Trust.
One of the results of their study abroad was a SWOT analysis for the Village of San Jose Succotz, which outlined issues, related to the development of eco-tourism projects for the village. The students' analysis was presented to Village Council and other leaders from Succotz, and sparked a lively debate of how to move forward. An intern working with Friends of Conservation and Development (FCD) on solid waste management issues also made a presentation to the village leaders.
The work of students and interns who visit Belize, benefit Belizean organizations and communities in several ways: through the generation of new ideas, by providing time and effort to carry out locally defined projects and by the donation from ISIS of part of their tuition to support the organizations they visited and worked with.
This cultural exchange of perspectives on wildlife, biology, conservation and history allows for both the students and the residents of Belize to collaborate and provide solutions to issues in such a way where both parties come away with answers that might not have been found otherwise. This goes to show that solutions to social issues are best found through multicultural teamwork, which is the ethos of the Institute of Sustainable International Studies in Belize.