I was out of the country on a Norwegian Sun cruise with my friend Barb (also a widow) from Tampa to Roatan (Honduras), Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, then back to Tampa. Barb and I were absolutely aghast at the poverty we witnessed.
In Belize, we signed up for a 7 hour shore excursion to go on an hour long bus ride that would take us to a river boat ride through the jungle to a little town for lunch, then back on the boat through the jungle, then back on the bus to the ship. Two brothers were the tour guides, Roy and Edgar, ages 31 and 33, and I have never seen any two people happier in their jobs. Their enthusiasm for their country and for making sure that everyone had a great time was over the top. Although they worked really hard with their presentations and helping everyone on and off the boat, it was when Barb and I had some quiet time to talk with them that we found out why they were so happy in their positions as tour guides. We also had some time with them as they walked us through the Mayan ruins, and they seemed to know just about everything about those ruins, because their mother is a Mayan!
You see, when the big ships came into port, Roy and Edgar did not have to work at their regular jobs in the sugar cane fields. Their hands were scarred and calloused, their muscles hard, and their bodies lean from the harsh and punishing work of the growing and reaping of the cane. First, they said they must burn the cane, to get rid of the snakes. Next comes the back-breaking work of cutting the cane- by hand. Last, is the bundling of the cane into large bales and carrying it on their shoulders out of the field. For Roy and Edgar, working as tour guides was like having vacation days! When we asked, they said that whatever the parents job is in life. that is the job that the children will do as well. Their dad worked in the cane fields, so they did too. Their younger brother was working with their dad, and their younger sister was working in the home with sewing, the same as their mother. I posed a question, asking "What if i were your child and I wanted to be a doctor?" They exchanged a surprised look. It seems that Roy's young son does want to be a doctor, but they are without money and means and knowledge for how to help him to achieve his dream. I shared some websites for scholarships with him (they do have access to the Internet) and gave him my contact information. I would love to see this young boy achieve his dream and help his people.
Talking with Roy and Edgar made me think about how lucky we are to live in the United States. Our society has numerous resources to help someone who is willing to work to achieve his goals. We are not expected to stay in the same position as our parents. Our educational system is open to everyone.
Sometimes, leaving the country gives a person a different perspective and
a new appreciation of their lives. I found this to be true after the conversations with Roy and Edgar. Although I worked four jobs each summer and as an RA during the school year to pay for my college education, I knew that my education would take me where I wanted to be in life. I knew my parents did not expect me to be a steel worker, like my father.
Education is not as important in Belize as it is in the United States, but Roy and Edgar know it is the answer for the son. I hope to hear from them, as they said they would email me for help and guidance, and i will keep you posted if I do.
In the meantime, let's be thankful for the educational opportunities in the United States.
As always, I welcome your comments or suggestions.
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My book STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER , is now available