I am here as a part of an international field experience where I will complete my last five weeks of my Secondary Education internship. Although I miss my kids at Hoggard High School dearly, I am learning a lot about the Belizean culture and education. My partnership teacher at San Pedro High School is Mrs. Giselle, and she teaches forms 3 & 4 (11th & 12th grade). For the past couple days I have observed and taken part in her lessons; in doing this, I have discovered several differences in public schools in America and San Pedro High School.
At Hoggard, the students are allowed to dress casually as long as it’s appropriate. No tanks, no undergarments showing, and shorts/skirts long enough for girls. In Belize, they have a very strict dress code. Boys are to dress in all white pants and collared shirt with the high school’s badge on the breast. Their pants have to be pocket less, so they can’t hold their cell phones, and they also have to wear white socks with black shoes and a black belt. Girls are to wear white dresses with a colored tie that symbolizes which form (grade) they are in: green-1st form, yellow-2nd form, blue-3rd form, red-4th form. Their dresses cannot be too tight and must be 1’’ before the knee. They have to wear black, closed shoes with white socks and they must wear a small pair of studded earrings. Girls are not allowed to wear make up at school and I actually witnesses a student receive a demerit today and was forced to wash it off.
Cell Phone Policy
At Hoggard, if I were to see a student with their cell phone, I usually gave them one warning and took it away if I saw it again. I would give it back to them at the end of the day, and that would be the end of it. In Belize, students are never allowed to have a cell phone while on school grounds. If caught, their first offense is for the teacher to take it and give it to the office to hold for one week. After the week is up, their parents can come retrieve the phone. For a second offense, the student would receive out of school suspension. Although this may seem harsh, I have yet to see a student with their cell phone out and it’s nice to avoid that distraction while trying to teach.
This is a very controversial subject. In America, these diseases are mentioned but hardly ever dealt with because it’s not an issue at high schools. In Belize, it is a grave problem that requires all schools and administrators to discuss about prevention and treatment methods. Since the diseases are only contracted through the transfer of fluids, students are education with preventative methods. If a person is infected while they are enrolled in classes or teaching at the school, they will be allowed to continue classes or teaching without any type of discrimination. If that person if already infected, the others at the school will be notified due to the possible risk of infecting others through physical activities that includes coming in contact with body fluids. I observe in a classroom where a hand-drawn posted illustrated a boy and a girl kissing with the words ‘I am HIV +’. I asked my teacher what the picture referred to and she stated that even people with HIV deserve to be loved. This was very humbling because in America, if someone is diagnosed with such a disease, everyone is very cautious to avoid them and treats them like it’s contagious through breathing.
I have learned a lot at San Pedro already academically and emotionally and it has changed my perspective on teaching as well as life. I hope to soak up everything I can out of this experience and bring my findings back to America to share.