Sandrock Visits Belize for Final Arcadia International Experience

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 27, 2011

Julia Sandrock ’11 was among 17 Arcadia students who ventured to Belize as part of the ID course “‘Africa in the Americas’: Language and Culture in Belize” from May 11-18. Led by Dr. Kalenda Eaton, Assistant Professor of English, and accompanied by Judith Dalton, Assistant Dean of Institutional Diversity, the students explored the culture and history of the Garifuna population (descended from African, Carib, and Arawak people). Sandrock, who’s been to more than 10 countries through Arcadia study abroad experiences, knew that going to Belize would be a great conclusion to her time in college.

“Going to Belize opened my eyes to a world that was very new to me,” says Sandrock. “Learning about the Garifuna culture and language was great, but actually experiencing it firsthand was so much better. Everything we learned in class came alive before our very eyes when we got there. It was truly incredible! Interacting with varying cultures, languages, and customs is my forte, and every experience I had in Belize applied to my major in every capacity—when it came to talking with locals, trying new foods, learning the language, every aspect pertained to my field of study.”

Students visited the Altun Ha Mayan ruins, watched a drum-making demonstration and danced to Paranda and Punta music (traditional Garifuna music), witnessed a traditional Garifuna wake/ceremony, and volunteered at the Gulisi Community Primary School in Dangriga.

At the Gulisi Community Primary School, students completed a group service project as part of their coursework. Sandrock worked with Danielle DiSanto ’11 to lead a geography lesson for second graders.

“We really helped the students understand the geography lesson because we made it interesting for them,” she says. “We also learned firsthand how important it is for the Garifuna community to keep their language and culture strong within their families in order to preserve their heritage for future generations.”

Eaton was very pleased with the outcome of the trip. “All goals were accomplished, and I think it was mutually beneficial to both the students and the Belizeans.”