SLU Offers New Study Abroad Opportunity: The Casa Belize Program

Photo+Courtesy+of+Saint+Louis+University

Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis University

The Casa Belize Study Abroad Program is a new program that will be brought to SLU in the fall of 2020. While the program is considered a study abroad program, it differs from other abroad opportunities in the unique ways it is structured to assist in the growth and flourishing of young social activists. Among many ways, there is a community aspect that is hard to find elsewhere. Students live in on-campus residence halls with fellow students, and are consistently immersed with the people and environment of Belize. This leads to conversation of shared experiences through different perspectives, strengthening each students’ ability to see the world through a more inclusive lens.

There is also an immersion into not only the Belizean culture, but to its ecosystem and history, as well. Students have an exciting opportunity to explore the ancient Maya ruins, as well as experience the diverse ecosystem of the Caribean islands. Jessica Trout, an Advocacy Program Coordinator at SLU and planning committee member for Casa Belize, discusses her experience with the program, “As an alumni of both SLU and a former Casa program in El Salvador, I genuinely believe in this program.  My experience both at SLU and through Casa shaped me into the person I am today. The close time spent in communities and the opportunity to live in another country create a place where students can deepen their understanding of the world and themselves.”

 

Finally, the program is spirit-orientatedinclusive to all faith traditionsand has opportunities for students to reflect and retreat on experiences in relation to one’s spirituality. 

Tom Hare, another member of the Casa Belize planning committee elaborates on this point mentioning that, “More specifically, there is an experiential learning component of the program where students spend two full days per week over the entire semester at a ‘praxis’ site aligned with their academic interests.  Students enter these sites as learners and community partners to educate them on the realities of their community or group. We have several sites that would appeal to students, including a clinic, mobile hospice care program, youth and women’s detention facilities and several communities that face challenges of domestic violence, poverty and mental health.” This holistic experience and implementation gives students a realistic understanding into the underprivileged and marginalized people of the Belize community. 

 

Casa Belize is more than just a study abroad experience, though, it is in immersion into a culture unlike one’s own, a chance to change lens and step into another person’s shoes. It is an opportunity to grow in spirit and in communitytruly, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. 

If you would like to apply or learn more about the Casa Belize Program you can apply to the fall 2020 class at https://www.slu.edu/study-abroad/casa-belize.php or email [email protected] for more information.

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