We also worked with the special needs children there at the primary school. Recently they have been discussing the concepts of perseverance and diligence. We had a group brainstorming session and came up with the idea to illustrate these concepts using salmon. We explained to the students that salmon swim hundreds of miles upstream to have babies in the exact same place they were born in, so that they can raise a healthy and happy family. They were able to make their own fish from the supplies we brought, and I think this really helped solidify the ideas in their minds.
Our trip to the primary school was so much fun! The children loved it, and I think they really caught on to what we were saying because of the interaction we provided. I wrote down my address for several of them, and they claim to be mailing me something soon for coming and helping them out at school. So awesome!
After leaving the primary school, we headed over to ITVET for some final preparation before the students' big presentations. Before they presented in front of the Youth Business Trust Belize, we conducted a small awards ceremony and gave certificates to the students because of their participation in the program. Not only did this mean a lot to them, but it also helped calm their nerves before the presentation. They are competing for loans to start their own business, and all of their preparation this week has led up to this. Even though only 3 of the 8 groups will receive loans, all of them did amazing and far exceeded our expectations. The feedback we received from the business trust was: "Normally we have our loan applicants take a 6 week course covering business plan formulation and gathering financials. You guys did this in 3.5 days." We found out who the winners were, but it will be officially announced to the students tomorrow, so we weren't supposed to say anything really. It was so hard to keep this silence! To have something to remember the students by, I had them sign my ITVET bag:
After the presentations we said what we thought were our last goodbyes and headed to our farewell dinner. This event was held on some land that Mr. Orlando de la Fuente owns down by the river (he owns the hotel we are staying at as well). He plans to develop it soon, and for good reason, because it is absolutely beautiful out there. We had a great time eating barbecue and socializing around the campfire.
The highlight of the day by far was pulling back up to the hotel after dinner and seeing a handful of our ITVET students waiting outside for us. They were not ready to say bye. Talk about a flood of emotions. Saying goodbye was hard enough once! That is how we know we made a lasting impact on these students. There was no reason to meet us out there to say bye one last time. In fact, they didn't even know what time our dinner was supposed to be over, but they waited out there for us anyway. They also brought us gifts as gratitude for everything we have done for them this week. We walked down to the river bank and visited with our students until 2 in the morning. And the thing is, I don't think they have any idea how much that gesture meant to us. I cannot think of a better way we could have ended our service project here in Belize!