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Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13, 2017
Belize City to Atlanta to Boston to Henniker

Day #9: Journey home and final thoughts

We began the day with our first lazy morning. Everyone had time to shower and take one final look at the grounds of the Tropical Education Center before our 8AM breakfast (featuring bacon! The first bacon we've seen in Belize - it was quite a hit) and 10AM bus. During the hour long bus ride to the airport, awards were given and nicknames bestowed (ask the students about that!).

Moving such a big group through the airport is always a challenge, but we managed to check 18 bags, get everyone checked in, through immigration and security, and on to our 2.5 hour flight to Atlanta. There, our 2.5 hour layover proved just enough time to get everything through customs, immigration, security, and transfers on to our plane. We landed in Boston around 10PM, 11 hours after we departed (including the 1 hour time change). I am writing this blog post from the charter bus that is taking us back to Henniker.

I asked all the students to write final thoughts about the trip. You will find them below unedited.

It's been a privilege to have escorted such a fine group of students to Belize! This was a fantastic group. Everyone worked hard, played hard, stepped outside their comfort zone, and accumulated many great stories that will withstand a lifetime of retelling. Thank you all for supporting our students and New England College on this adventure!

Best wishes,

- Prof. Eric J. Simon

What is something that you experienced that you don’t think anyone else on the trip experienced?

Traveling to Belize, snorkeling, hiking, tubing, and a lab report was the last thing I had to complete to graduate from NEC. Not a bad way to end undergrad. -Jess Barnum

I think the overall experience was incredible from cave tubing to the nightlife.   Something that I think I experienced was being so excited to see so many dogs around and being able to pet them all!!!  I also enjoyed the ice cream! -Taylor Grant

Coming to Belize was amazing, I think everything we did was a once in a lifetime adventure, that can never be taken away. I think something I experienced that made it so much different was knowing how to snorkel beforehand, because I’ve grown up doing it with my dad. It made it so cool to feel like I knew what I was doing and to experience everything I saw while doing it. -Tara Bainbridge

This has overall been an amazing trip of many firsts of snorkeling, hiking and traveling out of the country. I really enjoyed getting to feed the blue tang and the sting ray. I also, really liked holding the longed spined urchin and the west Indian sea egg. It made my trip special. -Emily Gubbins

Traveling to Belize push me out of my own comfort zone. I never in a million years thought I would be swimming in the ocean in BELIZE!!!!!. The fear of drowning went away when I realize how many people were here to support me. This made me feel very special, to have amazing classmates and professors who care. Thank you – Daffney Dieu

Traveling to Belize was eye-opening for me. I had never been to a developing country prior to this trip, so to see the people, culture, and land was fascinating. I found every day to be an adventure and I loved being in Belize every minute we were there. I think something that only I experienced on this trip was escaping a sunburn! -Ashlynn Wing

Traveling to Belize with NEC allowed me to cross so many things off my bucket list including hiking ancient Mayan ruins, swimming with sharks and several other things. I made tons of friend on this trip and got close with people who I never saw myself hanging out with back at school. This trip has been a life changing experience for me   -Ainsley Bruno

After traveling to Belize, I realize that I’ve experienced some amazing things like hiking through the Mayan ruins, touring and tubing through caves, and snorkeling in the second largest coral reef in the world. Every day this trip has presented me with new obstacles I had to overcome, and I can say I truly pushed myself out of my comfort zone and it was absolutely life changing. -Christina Wormell

There are two things that I got to experience that I don’t believe anyone else had the pleasure of experiencing, the first was swimming directly underneath a green sea turtle and seeing that sight, and the second would be having a spotted eagle ray scare the crap out of you by swimming right underneath you and then looking down just to see ray face. (the whole trip was an experience of a lifetime) -Travis Guest

One thing that I experienced was when we were at the Mayan ruins at one point I wandered away from the group into another area of the ruins where no one else was, it was incredibly peaceful being in a place like that with no one else around and just reflecting on the fact that hundreds of years ago, this place was a town and would have been teeming with life. -Emily Rempelakis

One thing that I experienced was swimming next to a green sea turtle and pushing my limits by hiking for the first time. This trip has allowed me to experience so many amazing things and I’m so glad I got to be a part of this experience. -Alexa Lamantea

Snorkeling in Belize was exactly what I expected it to be. I have been snorkeling and boating for the past 8 years of my life and I can honestly say that this was one of the nicest places I have been. A lot of my classmates went out of their comfort zone to do this and I think they all enjoyed it as much as I did. I also enjoyed going out at night in the city to the clubs and getting to know my classmates more. I will be returning BELIZE! – Chris Donovan

This trip has been an amazing experience for me. The Belizean people loved me and made me feel even more welcomed and made my experience even more enjoyable. I have never been snorkeling nor swam in the ocean before, so to say that the first place I ever snorkeled and oceans waters I ever swam was in Belize is awesome.- Jasmine Adams

I had two things on this trip that I know no one else on this trip had the pleasure of doing. The first is being the last and only member of the 100% club! It felt good knowing that I was able to learn about 70 different species and be able to recognize each one by a simple picture or video. I thought that I would never be able to learn that many species, but here I am as the last member of the 100%. The second being that I was the only person who was able to swim around with an octopus in my hand for 20 mins! It was an amazing experience knowing that the octopus could have let go and swam away at any point but it chose to stick with me until we had to leave. These are two things that made this trip even better and things that I will remember forever. This trip was unBELIZEable! – Will Pendleton

I think that I was able to notice a lot more than my first trip to Belize, since this was my third trip. One thing that I experienced in Belize that I don’t think anyone else truly got to experience was respectful interaction from a young homeless Belize Army Veteran. Maybe I changed his life with just a few words of encouragement. Maybe not. Either way, he strangely called me daddy the next day when I saw him on the streets looking a little more clean and happy! I don’t think I will forget Mikey, even if I never see Belize again.- Matt Hackett


One thing that I know I experienced that no one else did was carrying the responsibility of the medical bag, and making sure everyone was getting what they needed. I think I also experienced myself changing a lot to become a more adventurous person than I was before. What made it unforgettable for me was everyone in our group and the activities that we did every day. Being able to snorkel and see what I study was just amazing. I hope to come back to Belize again in the future- Megan Polte

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