From Duck-Duck-Goose to Blood Pressure Checks: Belize Trip Had It All

The Community Center was a building where we would meet to have presentations on Belize given by our two Global Public Service Academies guides on medical topics and generally important information. (Sophia Fruehauf/Sewickley Academy)

The Community Center was a building where we would meet to have presentations on Belize given by our two Global Public Service Academies guides on medical topics and generally important information. (Sophia Fruehauf/Sewickley Academy)

Sophia Fruehauf, Guest Contributer

The Belize trip was a mixture of learning about global medicine, experiencing cultural activities, and implementing our new medical knowledge (learned during the first trimester Global Health course in partnership with Duke University’s Global Public Service Academies) by taking local people’s vitals and giving them basic health advice. After getting settled and reviewing our skills, we started the service part of the trip by setting up shop in the city of San Antonio. Here, we took vitals, including the glucose levels, blood pressure, pulse, respiration, height, weight, and temperature of anyone who walked through. We only did this “medical fair” once during the trip; for the rest of the trip we walked around neighborhoods in the more remote areas of the city with our supplies, going house to house to take people’s vitals. The medical fair, though easier because our group and all of our supplies were stationary, was not as impactful to me as the home visits. During the home visits, people accepted us immediately and let us come onto their property or into their homes to quickly set up and take their vitals. Some people even gave us water and fresh fruit, chatting with us as we pricked their finger or measured their temperature. This service aspect of the trip was the most impactful because it was just about doing the job you were tasked with– not for grades, not for money– but for the person you were standing directly across from. After the home visits, our service switched to going to schools, teaching kids about hygiene and healthy habits and taking the teachers’ vitals. Though a lot of the kids already knew what we were talking about, playing germ tag and duck-duck goose with them was still a lot of fun. Of course, the service aspects of the trip were interspersed with many different cultural activities and sightseeing opportunities. We made pottery, hiked through the dense jungle, explored a medicinal garden, and toured Caricol, the extensive ruins of an ancient Mayan city.

We were located in an area around San Antonio in the Cayo District. We stayed in Bullet Tree and traveled in and around San Antonio and San Ignacio.
(https://rainforestrealty.com/beli)
The Metate is a set of stones traditional used by the Mayans for grinding up corn and cacao beans. We were shown how to use one on many different occasions. Early in the trip, we went to a restaurant where we were shown how to use it in the process of making corn tortillas. Later on in the trip, we visited a place that makes Mayan chocolate, and we were shown how to grind up the cacao beans with the Metate. In this picture, we were shown how to use the Metate to grind up coffee beans. (Sophia Fruehauf/Sewickey Academy)
Caricol is one of the largest known Mayan cities and is located in the Cayo District of Belize, so close to the border that you can see Guatemala from the top of the largest structure. We explored that structure, once home to the higher classes and royals of the Mayan Empire, featuring three temples and at least two tombs. We also explored a ball court, where the Mayan sport Pitz was played, and multiple other ancient structures. (Sophia Fruehauf/Sewickley Academy)