Cross-Cultural Exploration of Teaching and Learning
Belize, formerly the colony of British Honduras, is the only country in Central America with English as its official language. The country is located between Guatemala to the west and south and Mexico to the north and was the heart of the Maya civilization at its peak. Along the Caribbean it is culturally similar to many of Britain's former island colonies. Inland are native Maya people, and especially in the north and northwest of the country Spanish is often spoken. Belize is often called "nature's best kept secret" – from the second-largest barrier reef in the world, to jungle mountains, to sugar cane fields, and winding rivers and streams, the diversity of ecosystems is unique and unmatched. In this program you will visit and observe rural and urban schools, collaborate with Belize teachers, work in small groups with Belize learners, meet with administration at school and district levels, and visit tertiary education institutions. Course content will address literacies in social contexts and will be the focus of our time in schools, communities, and evening sessions.
*Program is subject to minimum enrollment.
The 2020 syllabus is forthcoming.
Expect to have 3 to 5 contact hours per day, Monday through Friday, with Belize learners and teachers. There will be daily group sessions involving discussions, reflections, planning, and project work.
This course is worth three UAlbany credits.
General Education Information for UAlbany Students
Credits earned on this program will automatically satisfy the International Perspectives requirement. No additional approval is required for you to earn these general elective credits.
Major/Minor Information for UAlbany Students
Courses may also satisfy major and minor requirements, upon approval by the department.
All courses taken abroad count towards UAlbany General Elective credits. Credits and grades will appear on your UAlbany transcript. You may file a request to have additional courses approved for equivalency as necessary.
This course is taught by Dr. Cheryl Dozier, and PhD student, Joy Stephens.
Dr. Dozier is a former classroom teacher of kindergarten through eighth grade in urban and suburban classrooms. She co-leads a national research study group on literacy lab/reading clinic preparation for the Literacy Research Association (LRA). Dr. Dozier’s professional development initiatives involve collaborating with school districts as they redesign their literacy instruction while her research and teaching examine relationships among responsive teaching, learners, and families toward creating a more just society.
Ms. Stephens has been to Belize well over 20 times, taking teachers and students to serve in schools throughout the country. She is familiar with the program guides, excursions, the lodges, the schools, and communities, and has long-established connections and resources to help solve any bumps in the road that may occur while abroad.
You will stay at two different lodges in and around San Ignacio, as well as an island hotel. The rooms are comfortable, air conditioned, have single and double beds, private bathrooms, and either double or triple occupancy. Everyone will have their own bed.
Laundry services are available at both lodges for additional cost.
Internet access is available at all lodges; either in your rooms or in common areas.
Breakfast will be provided every morning, both buffet and sit-down style. Lunches will either be picnic provided by the lodge or at the school where we are working. Dinners alternate between eating at the lodge and visiting local restaurants. There will be vegetarian options at all meals. The water at both lodges is safe to drink, and you will have access to bottled water as needed.
You are responsible for dinners on weekends and all meals during the beach overnight excursion to Caye Caulker.
Estimate of Costs
For reference, review the Estimate of costs for Belize – Faculty Led – January 2020
Click for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid.
Remember to speak with the Office of Financial Aid at your home campus to determine how your aid package could apply towards your program abroad.
You must be in good academic and judicial standing to apply. Applications are welcome from junior and senior undergraduates and graduate students.
Experiential learning plays a critical role in your program experience. Both the overall program and individual courses include a number of cultural and historical excursions to important and influential sites, so you will have the opportunity to experience the country and culture of Belize to its fullest.
In addition to the in-school experiential learning, you will explore the cultural, historical, and ecological richness of Belize through organized group activities and excursions, such as exploring Maya ruins, cave tubing, rain forest hikes, waterfall hikes,and a trip to an island beach destination.
You will have ample free time during the week for walks, swimming (both lodges have swimming pools), or relaxing and reading. Saturday and Sundays are reserved for activities such as visiting Maya ruins, exploring waterfalls, and touring San Ignacio and its famous Saturday market. We will travel to Caye Caulker, Belize on our departure weekend.
*Excursions are a mandatory part of the program and specific destinations vary by program and availability.
**Schedule is tentative and subject to change
External scholarships, listed on our website, are a good way to partially fund your study abroad experience. In addition, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy offers two scholarship programs for UAlbany students studying abroad on UAlbany or 4-year SUNY programs.
More information on applying to these scholarships is located on the Scholarships web page.
In Their Own Words
About the City
San Ignacio, the location of the course, is situated in the jungle covered Maya Mountains of western Belize. San Ignacio is the second largest city in Belize and is the business and market center for the entire western part of Belize as well as the most popular inland destination for adventure travel. Although it is the second largest city in Belize, San Ignacio is relatively small and has many rural villages just minutes from the city center. This urban/rural contrast provides us opportunities to observe different types of schools, learn from various perspectives in the communities served by schools, analyze material resources available for learning, and recognize cultural dynamics which can either support or challenge literate communities.
A valid passport is required to participate in this program. If you are a permanent resident or international student, a visa may be required. More information regarding the visa application process is available upon acceptance to the program.
Vaccination and Medication Documents
Upon acceptance to the program, you will be required to provide documentation indicating that you are up-to-date on all childhood and young adult vaccinations, including tetanus. Consult your physician for country-specific vaccination and medication recommendations.
Applications become available online one semester before the program start date, based on the following timeline:
- Winter programs: July
01/04/2020 to 01/19/2020
Winter 2018/19 Program Schedule
Jan 5 Depart NYC, Arrive in Belize
Jan 6 Visit Maya ruins, Orientation Seminar
Jan 7 Seminar, Cave Tubing
Jan 8 Observe in schools, Seminar
Jan 9-11 Teach in schools, Seminar
Jan 12 Cave Adventures
Jan 13 Seminar, Visit waterfalls
Jan 14-17 Teach in schools, Seminars
Jan 18 Travel to island
Jan 19 Snorkel trip
Jan 20 Return home
*Schedule is tentative and subject to change
More information regarding flights is available upon acceptance.
About the Program
Upon acceptance to the program, you will be required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation. During this time, you will have the opportunity to meet other program participants, discuss in-depth the details of your program, and prepare of the overall education abroad experience. The winter pre-departure orientation is typically conducted in late November/early December.
You will also have an on-site orientation upon arrival to your host country.
Your Faculty Leader is responsible for guiding all aspects of the program and will be available throughout the on-site portion of the course to manage any concerns or questions you may have while abroad. The faculty accompany you on all program activities and outings.
UAlbany’s Office of Education Abroad staff assists you during the application process, in your preparation to travel abroad, and on-site if necessary.