4-H in Belize: UnBelizable!

Michigan 4-H promotes international exchanges with 4-H in Belize. The Belize 4-H program has been described as “UnBelizable!”

Individuals are surprised to find the National 4-H Center in Belize. 4-H Youth in Michigan will be traveling to the 4-H Center this summer and visiting the Center. While at the Belize 4-H Center the participants will share an appreciation of the social, economic, political and cultural contributions of all people and gain a better understanding of how culture influences values, beliefs and attitudes. Youth will also have an opportunity to practice and share foreign language, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, acquire specific subject matter skills and knowledge, share the international experience, make a positive difference in the life of a person and build life‑long international friendships.

The 4-H Exploration Camp is the first of its kind in Belize and is designed to help youth learn new ideas, techniques and skills they can use personally and in their 4-H groups, youth groups and communities. The camp offers in-depth action learning through sessions in areas of interest, provides opportunities and experiences that may not be readily available in districts, enhances personal growth by giving youth opportunities to develop responsibility, independence, accountability, decision-making, time management and teamwork skills and to also meet new people and make new friends. The National 4-H & Youth Development Center in Belize is committed to equip Belizean youth with marketable skills that will support and sustain their efforts to become productive citizens of Belize with the motto of “Learn to Earn and Save.”

The Belize 4-H Center has conducted a 4-H Professional Development (PD) training course that is a 10 month personal development training course for out of school youth ages 14-17 years. The course helps young people to develop basic skills in vocational education, health and life skills, entrepreneurship and remedial studies. 4-H Clubs in Belize (estimated June 19, 2010) consists of twelve 4-H Clubs: Paraiso, Patchakan, Progresso, Awesome Hands, Chan Pine Ridge, Santa Martha, Lucky Rock, Hope Creek, Ecumenical, La Democracia, Garden City and 4-H Trainee Council. The locations are: Paraiso Village, Progresso Village, Chan Pine Ridge, Santa Martha Village, Rock Stone Pond, Hope Creek Village, Dangria, La Democracia and Belmopan with a total of 244 Membership. Some of the 4-H activities are similar and much different than 4-H in the States which include sports, camping/hiking, cultural exchange, arts/crafts, community service, dance, gardening, tourism, citizenship, computers, food processing, fundraising, environment, animal husbandry, woodwork, and career development.

Belize is the only Caribbean Nation in Central America. The heritage is English rather than Spanish, and homeland to the Mayas for 3,000 years. Belize is peaceful, newly independent (9/21/81) and multi-racial (Maya, Garifuna, Creole, Mestizo, European, Asian, Middle Eastern) with a population around 300,000, relaxed and as intimate as a small country town. They recently celebrated their 30-year Independence in September 2011. They say that Belize is about the size of Montana.

Over the years, a country that has become known as “Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret,” “You Better BELIZE It!” To follow the 4-H motto “To Make the Best Better” 4-H individuals better give this “UnBELIZEable" experience a try! Youth are scheduled to travel to Belize this summer 2012. Host families and youth to travel to Belize are needed the summer of 2013. Michigan 4-H will generally host from six to eight delegates. The Belizean delegates will attend 4-H Exploration Days before going to host families.

Additional information regarding the Michigan 4-H International Exchange programs can be accessed at http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/international_exchange_programs or at: http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/global_cultural_education

You can also contact Roxanne Turner, 2012 4-H Belize Summer coordinator by email at turner@anr.msu.edu or call her at 517-564-3950. For more information on how to get involved, contact your county MSU Extension office or MSUE 4-H International Exchange Coordinator, Renee Applegate at applega1@msu.edu or call 517-432-7624.

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