Brendan Kergin, News Editor Ω
Belize is, odds are, not a country the students at TRU know a lot about.
That can be changed.
The small Central American country is the regular destination of a field course run by Dr. Karl Larsen.
The unique feature of this course is that, while designated as part of the department of natural resource sciences, it is open to essentially all students at TRU.
“It’s a multi-discipline course, so students from any discipline can take it,” said Larsen.
“As long as they can say why this is important to [them].”
While it’s common for biology majors to go, past participants have included a math student, economists and tourism majors.
“I’ve got students from different disciplines and they actually teach other. During the courses they are all looking at things from different directions,” said Larsen.
He actually learns a lot as well, even though he’s been doing this for five years.
At the end of the trip the students create presentations to share with the class, and with some of the Belizeans they meet.
The cross-cultural exchange is aided by the fact that while almost all of the nations bordering Belize speak Spanish, Belize is part of the British Commonwealth and officially speaks English.
It shares a bit of history with Canada, and even more with its Caribbean neighbours.
The tiny nation is tucked in on the western side of Mexico and Guatemala.
With a population of about 300,000, it’s a small, vibrant nation with about a half dozen notable cultures going through some major transitions.
Larsen believes the microcosm in a small area going through major changes is an excellent space to study multiple academic areas.
This exchange of culture and ideas is expanded on in many ways.
There is always an event with the University of Belize and when the Canadians come home again, they bring a student from the U of B back with them for a two-week trip of their own.
Past participant Melany Rosberg, who’s studying Animal Biology at TRU, said the trip opened up her eyes to how conservation works in another country with a different culture.
“Some of the highlights of the trip for me were the exposure to new wildlife and all the Mayan culture in the area,” she said.
“It really is quite different from home and the trip is unforgettable, catching crocodiles in a dark lagoon, spending a night with a Mayan family, hunting for jaguars!”
There are some essential things to know about the trip. It will cost about $3000 all included. Applications are being taken now until Oct. 21 for the course – which takes place in the spring 2012.
The course takes two weeks and counts for full course credits.