Study abroad program targets Belize

Students at Wednesday’s interest meeting. Photo courtesy: Joshua Robinson

Some students at Florida A&M are preparing to study aquatics and learn about the country of Belize as part of the university’s study abroad program. A meeting was held Wednesday for students interested in the opportunity, where topics such as travel, activities and requirements were explained in detail.

Since 2003, the Office of International Education and Development [OIED] at FAMU has welcomed thousands of international students and has sent thousands of students abroad.

This semester, however, the study abroad program was done virtually as a result of the pandemic.

With the development of vaccines and certain travel restrictions lifted, the university is now comfortable with studying abroad, according to Jorge Olaves, coordinator and instructor with the Department of Health, Physical Education & Recreation at FAMU.

Olaves was in charge of Wednesday’s event. He explained to those in attendance specific deadlines and class requirements to be part of the Belize trip, as well as how it is applicable to multiple majors.

Olaves made sure to mention that those who do make the trip must have had the COVID-19 vaccine and will have to be tested 2-3 days prior to returning to the United States. A passport will be required and a visa may also be required.

The program runs from July 7-29. The total cost for each student is $2,607, with the first deposit of $500 due Jan. 21. Following that date, two additional deposits of $929 and $928 are due March 1 and April 15. The deadline for the application is Jan. 10 and those who will be selected to attend will be notified Jan. 24.

Students who plan to attend must take one of the three courses: principles and analysis of aquatics (PEN 2101), aquatics seminar (PEN 3104) or the first aid course (HSC 2400) over the summer. Only those who enroll and pass one of those classes are able to participate in the Aquatics in Belize program.

Although tuition for those courses is not covered in the cost, all other aspects such as travel (round trip and in country transportation), housing, international health insurance and cultural activities are. These activities will include sea kayaking, beach and mangrove cleanup, cooking lessons and others. Students were also provided a link to a tentative itinerary to see how the weeks will be structured.

Kiera Macklin, a first-year psychology major and Yasmine Dierestil, a second-year journalism major, attended the interest meeting. They said they were excited about the possibility of participating in the program.

“I’ve always been interested in learning about other cultures,” Macklin said. “So, when my friend sent me the flyer for this meeting, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do just that.”

“I saw the flyer for this meeting in my email, and I already had inclinations to study abroad so I had to take advantage,” Dierestil said.

“On a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 10 on how important it is to travel outside of the country whether it’s for school or not,” Macklin said. “Going out in the world and experiencing different individuals and their cultures gives you a much more well-rounded view of other countries outside of America.”