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Study abroad trip focuses on service learning

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May 15, 2014

The health science students will spend two weeks in Belize participating in service and community-based learning activities.The health science students will spend two weeks in Belize participating in service and community-based learning activities.A group of health science students will spend two weeks in the Central American country of Belize this summer.

The students will participate in service and community-based learning initiatives each day including health fairs working with an HIV/AIDS awareness group, volunteering to help build an orphanage and working with local high school coaches at a clinic.

“For the majority of our trip, we will be in the city of San Ignacio, a small town near the border of Belize and Guatemala,” said Dr. Kirk Armstrong, associate professor of health and human performance. “This area of the country consists of houses with dirt floors and thatched roofs. Many do not have access to health care, so we are able to bring a valuable asset to this area of the country.”

For sophomore Sara Markham, this trip will be her first out of the country. Stark contrasts in American and Belizean culture described by Armstrong are exactly what she hopes to encounter. 

“As a community healthy major, I feel experiences that allow me to get into the community and actually work, also help me learn and develop skills that will assist me in my future career,” said Markham. “I also hope to expand my view on the world on a more personal level and this experience is just a stepping stone for my career after I graduate.”

Brooke Wilson holds several baby iguanas at the San Ignacio Iguana Sanctuary.Brooke Wilson holds several baby iguanas at the San Ignacio Iguana Sanctuary.

During their time in Belize, Markham along with other students will complete a daily blog about their experience. Topics range from cultural and educational impacts to developmental initiatives, and medical knowledge and experience.

“Our goal is that through the students blogs we will be able to create an e-book,” said Armstrong. “Each student will be in charge of developing a chapter, so the blogs will help them in that process.”

Carla La Rotta, sophomore exercise science major, is excited for trip excursions such as horseback riding and cave diving, but she’s also interested in honing her skills in her minor.

“I’m also minoring in Spanish and even though Belize’s national language is English, there will be Spanish speakers there, which will help me practice my speaking skills,” said La Rotta. “Professionally I would like to do more things abroad and this is just a stepping stone to that goal.”

The students will also experience many historical and cultural aspects of the country including a visit to Mayan ruins and other sites.

To follow their progress, visit Markham's blog here and La Rotta's blog here


For more information on study abroad opportunities at Georgia College, visit

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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