Elizabeth Alexander ’14 travels to Belize to work at Ocean Academy

Posted by Centre News in CentreTerm, Internships, News, Study Abroad 22 Jan 2014

Teaching is a passion many Centre College students pursue, and this CentreTerm, Elizabeth Alexander ’14 is doing just that—though for different reasons than one might expect. The international studies major will travel to one of the world’s newest countries to get a firsthand look at how educational infrastructure is established and maintained.

CentreTerm is the College’s three-week January term that allows students and faculty the opportunity to explore a single subject intensively, often through travel abroad. The short term works particularly well for unique internships like Alexander’s.

caye_caulkerOcean Academy, located off the coast of Belize, was her first choice as she was searching for a suitable internship.

“The island where Ocean Academy is located, Caye Caulker, is a few miles off the mainland and takes an hour to get to via ferry,” Alexander (above, center) explains. “Before Ocean Academy was founded, there wasn’t a high school on the island, so students had a lot of difficulty accessing education after the eighth grade.

“The school is only five years old,” she adds, “so it struck me as an opportunity to help build something new and contribute to the early structuring of a really important operation.”

Alexander’s contribution includes serving as a teacher’s assistant, helping with math and English classes, and running an after-school art club that plans to complete a mural on the school building.

“My favorite experiences so far have been the student-led introductory activities,” Alexander says. “We had a student take the volunteers on a kayak tour of the island, and we were invited to dinner at another student’s home. Getting a look at the community from their perspective has been really interesting and fun.”

All of Alexander’s work is part of helping the new school grow and prosper, an endeavor that will not only perform immediate good for the students and families of Caye Caulker but also help Alexander forge ahead towards a possible career.

“My ideal future career field would be in development,” she says. “For me, working directly with education, which, infrastructurally, is very new in Belize (the government is just in the early stages of subsidizing and advancing early education), is an experience that will give me important insights. Seeing the way privately founded schools operate in a developing nation is a perspective I’m excited to gain.”

Learn more about internships at Centre.

By Mariel Smith

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