Monday, April 4, 2011

Flight home

Hello parents,
I've been in touch with Jason Hunter and he confirmed that the group has cleared customs in Houston and is at the gate preparing to board their flight to Chicago. The take off has been delayed but the arrival information is still showing on time at 11:50 p.m. in Chicago. Here's info on Continental 1427 taken from the Continental Airlines website (see below). Welcome home Stanley Clark! Thanks to everyone for a great program --

City: Chicago, IL (ORD - O'Hare)
Gate: B3
Terminal: Terminal 1
Scheduled Time: 11:48 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Mon., Apr. 4, 2011
Estimated Time: 11:50 p.m.
Estimated Date: Mon., Apr. 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Enjoying our last day in Tobacco Caye

Last Post from Belize

It's our last night in Belize and I'm pretty sure the kids aren't ready to go home yet.  Don't get me wrong, they are missing everyone from home, but they are having a fantastic time in Belize.  Tobacco Caye has been amazing and the Marine Biologists that we have been working with (Matt and Michelle) have been phenomenal!!  The kids have all learned a lot and they have been great snorkelers.  Right now we are all in the Marine Station looking at the underwater photos the kids took today while they were snorkeling.  After this they are going out for their night snorkel.

Yesterday we spent the entire day on the water.  We started with an hour long snorkel about 15 minutes off of the Caye.  The coral and the fish we saw were amazing and everyone did a great job not touching anything or stepping on any coral.  We spent some time on Carrie Bow Caye.  This is the island where the Smithsonian Marine Station is located.  We waded through the Mangroves and learned a lot about why they are important.  We also snorkeled around a Mangrove and saw lots of Jellyfish. The whole group was pretty exhausted after dinner.

No major sunburns and our bug bites are starting to go away!  I can't guarantee that we will all be clean when we get home tomorrow though.  Thank you for all of the wonderful posts from home.  It became our routine to read all of them out loud after lunch or dinner.  The kids all loved hearing from their friends and family at home.  There are lots of stories and pictures to share when we get home!

See you all in Chicago!!


Congratulations Science Olympiad Team!  We are so proud of you and all of your hard work.  Way to go on making it to Nationals.  You should all be VERY proud of yourselves!!

The Belize Team

One more thing...

Hey haha sorry one more thing I just remembered. For Nicole, Erin, and Maddy (particularly Erin and Maddy), I got those episodes where Joe Chin talks in Chinese and the one where he is scared to go up the stairs!!!! I got them just for that! Hahaha. We'll have to watch them sometime when you come back!! Haha okay I just wanted to tell you guys that and to everyone, see you soon!! Have a safe trip back! Love Always, Claire :)


To my best girlfriend,

We are soooo glad you've had such a great trip.  Travel safely... we are really looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night.  Thanks for wearing your sun hat!!

Much love to you,



Enjoy your last day/night in Belize. The trip will be a cherished memory. We can't wait to see you, hear all the stories and see your pictures.

Call us on cells from Houston so we will know when to expect the plane. Weather in Chicago is supposed to be dicey tonight and in the am.

Jason/Elizabeth - the Continental ticket included the Belize departure tax, so you should NOT have to cough up any cash at departure tomorrow.

Love, Mom and Dad

Last Day

I hope you are all enjoying your last day, it looks hot and sunny.  Treasure every minute of it.   I've missed you, Garrick, and I'm sure your trip seemed to go by faster for you than it did for me!  I'm looking forward to hearing all of the details, I hope it has been a good trip.  See you late tomorrow night!  love- mom

From Claire (last time)

Hey everybody! I just wanted to tell you that I hope you had an AMAZING time in Belize! I'm so glad you had the chance to do everything you did there because it was definitely an amazing opportunity. Thanks for all of the updates and pictures! They were amazinggg! Have a great last day! Love to all, Claire :)

To Nicole

I am sure you are finding yourself with mixed feelings regarding your departure.  You probably want the adventure to continue, but hopefully, can't wait to come home.  Enjoy your remaining hours in Belize!  We can't wait to give you a big welcome home hug!

Mr. Hunter & Miss Keim... Thank you so much for giving the children the opportunity to participate in such a unique and educational experience.  I am sure they have all grown in intellect, character and heart because of you.

Have a safe trip home!

Ich Liebe Dich,
Mama and Daddy


We know you're probably not happy that your trip is coming to an end.  But we miss you, and are glad you're coming home tomorrow night.  You and I (Mom) are going to ride home from the airport with Sam and his Dad.  Can't wait to see you.  Colleen says she loves you.  Make sure you have $$ for your luggage fee.  Safe travels. Love, Mom and Dad



Hi Madeline

We are all excited to see you Tuesday morning. Dad will
pick you up at the airport. From your look in the photos,
the mangroves must have been really exciting! Enjoy
the rest of your trip, and thank Miss Keim and Jason
for all they are doing for you.

To Erin

Hi Erin,
We are following all of the posts from the "heavenly" Tobacco Caye.  Sounds like a fitting end to an exciting trip.  We will see you Monday.  Safe travels.


To Leigh

It looks like loads of fun on the reef. Did you see stingrays or eagle rays when you were snorkeling? Any other cool sightings? Has the weather been nice and hot? We had snow flurries in Elkhart Friday evening. What type of food have you had out on the Caye?
Filson says hello. We can't wait to see you Monday evening. 

Love, Mom and Dad
Hi Indiana,

We are very proud of you and your Belize Buddies. You are all on your way in becoming a force of and for nature - and there is nothing more important than that.

Can't wait to see you tomorrow night. Love, Mom and Dad

To Grace and Everyone

Dear Grace and All,

It looks like the snorkeling and the trip to the Mangroves is adventurous.  Pina Coladas!?!  We will have to talk when you get home.  Just kidding!  Coconut is really good for you.

What are you walking through in the Mangroves as you are barefoot? What is a Mangrove?

We look forward to seeing you all.

On a basketball note, Butler and UConn are in the men's final game.  The Notre Dame women play tonight in the final four against UConn.

My guess is that it is going to be hard to leave Belize.

We love you Grace.  See you tomorrow night.


Saturday, April 2, 2011



Tobacco Caye

From Nicole...

Hey yins guys! So... where did I leave off.... OK. So yesterday, we packed up and got ready to move from Maya Center. We had a wonderful going away breakfast. They even cut flowers for our table and put out a nice tablecloth. Then, we went shopping at the Women’s Cooperative, where we got hand-made gifts. They are really cool. Then, we went to a hot sauce factory. The mango chutney was really good! We left and then drove to a dock. Then we had to say bye to Juan, our awesome ninja guide. It was so sad! We boarded a boat and sailed to Tobacco Caye. It’s so beautiful! There are tons of conch shells. We moved into the cutest colorful cabins, and then tried on snorkel gear. We went out and tested our gear. We saw starfish, fish, two stingrays, and crabs. Then, most of us tried to do flips off the dock. I didn’t do too well. I’ll gain momentum off the dock, jump, and chicken out. I sort of end up belly flopping. That’s OK. I’ll end up doing it. We have also adopted the island volleyball court and we play volleyball, nuke ‘em, and tips. There’s also a bar where we order drinks (non-alcoholic, of course). We also spend hours just laying on hammocks. It’s so relaxing! Today, we went on an all-day snorkeling trip. We went to a beautiful reef, also the middle of the ocean, a mangrove forest, and snorkeled by mangroves. (Don’t worry, Mama, I took lots of underwater pictures). We came back and relaxed till dinner. Now, I’m about to go learn about coral. Tomorrow, we are conducting experiments.
‘Kay, love ya, Ich liebe Dich, miss ya,
Nicole :

From Indi...

Hii! It’s Indiana! Tobacco Caye is AMAZING. It is gorgeous. Also, snorkeling has been so much fun! I am so happy that we are here, and although I miss everyone at home, I don’t want to leave! Love you mom & dad, I’ll see you guys Tuesday!! 
<3 Indiana 

From Erin...

Hey everybody, it’s Erin! Tobacco Caye is paradise. You can always hear the sound of the ocean and feel the cool breeze. The cabins are adorable! There are tall palm trees everywhere that are filled with coconuts and beautiful white sand is everywhere! I love it! I spent hours laying in huge hammocks. I never want to leave! 
We went snorkeling for the entire day today. I saw stingrays, colorful fish, interesting coral, and lots of various other organisms and plants. I got a little sunburn, but not a lot. It feels good to be getting a great tan! The cook, Miss Judy, is a miracle worker. The food is amazing. Also, we are enjoying playing tons of fun games on the beach volleyball court. A favorite hang out is the bar; they serve amazing pina colladas! (No alcohol, of course!) I just had one an hour ago and it was refreshing. They also play really good music. 
Finally, I am loving getting to know the local kids, my classmates, and my teachers. I love them all! Tobacco Caye is perfect and I never want to leave Belize!
Miss you all and see you soon!

From Leigh...

Hey, it’s Leigh :) Tobacco Caye is amazing! The last week has been really fun- I especially loved helping at the school and hanging out with the kids :) Everybody was soooo nice! The little kids were adorable, and the kids our age were really cool to talk to and play soccer with. The place that we stayed at in Maya Center was pretty nice, too, except for the mosquitoes....and the showers were interesting. Yea, I have a lot of mosquito bites. But I don’t have any sun burns- I’m doing pretty good with sunscreen and wearing my hat and everything. The Jaguar Preserve was awesome. I really liked going on all the hikes and swimming in the waterfalls, too. I’m just kind of remembering different things that I’ve done since I blogged about a week ago...oh, and I liked the Maya Museum, and the ruins were cool to visit. And now we’re here at Tobacco Caye and it’s super pretty. I love our little cabin- it’s sooo cute! The hammocks are nice to just chill in, and playing volleyball before dinner is the best :) Snorkeling was awesome today- we saw a lot of cool fish and a couple of stingrays! We took a boat out on the ocean and snorkeled at two different spots, and then we checked out the mangroves after lunch, which were really cool :D Anyway, we’re having a really great time, and I guess we get to do some experiments on the island tomorrow, which should be fun! And now I’m blogging and drinking a pina collada :) Yummy....! Mom and Dad: I love you guys soooo much, and I miss you lots <3 I hope you had a ton of fun in California, and I can’t wait to see you on Monday and show you all of the pictures I’ve taken and everything! Everybody else: thanks a bunch for all the messages- we love hearing from you guys :) Ok....bye :
Lots of love from Leigh Van Ryn <3 

From Rowan...

Hello, it’s Rowan and I make blogs and post them on the internet.  Yesterday we came to Tobacco Caye and it is really cool. It is a perfect island. Today we went snorkeling all day. It was really cool because we saw a lot of exotic fish and other animals. We snorkeled around a coral reef and by mangroves. I got stung by a jellyfish and it was chill. We saw these really cool birds called Boobies.  I liked them cause they where pretty. See everyone on Tuesday.  

From Sam...

Hey people it’s Sam. Tobacco Caye is amazing. Wind, breezes and no tarantulas! The boat ride was simple.  All around, all I see is water.  We went snorkeling and saw eagle rays, assortments of fish, manatee, dolphins, hermit crabs, lion fishes, and birds. Some birds we saw were boobies, frigates, and ospreys. Belize is awesome. I miss you people at home. (Mom, Dad, Carrie, Ashley, Liz, Kevin, Sara, Grandpa and Nancy, my friends, Isabela, Taylor, Ryleigh, and David) I’ll see you on Tuesday. P.S.  I have two surprises for Bela and one for Sara/family. 

Returning Home


Safe travels.  Enjoyed hearing all about your adventure.  Looking forward to your stories. See you Monday night.  Leave your creatures in Belize.  They will be happier there. 


ps.  Bulter wins.  They will play in the championship.   

to Indi

Hi Indi,

Uncle Paul here again.  Your Mom typed the last message for me, but I wanted to send you another message, correcting my first message.  I meant to say "octopuses," but I didn't know if it was "octopuses" or "octopi."  Then again, maybe I should have said "octopods" or, perhaps, "octopodes."  Then I found this website:
and I find out all three (or four) are correct.  Now, I'm even more confused than before!

BTW, I'm not making this up: As I write this, your cousin, Chris, is watching the movie, "Spiderman 2"--which is about the evil "Dr. Octopus"!

Anyway, hope you're having a great time and loads of fun.  I'm looking forward to seeing all the pix about your adventures.

Uncle Paul

P.S.  Watch out for those octo--oh, never mind!

To all SCS students in Belize

I hope you are all safe,sound,and have had a great week! I am so proud of you for spending your break helping others. Plea know that I am thinking about you and can't wait to hear your stories when you get home!

Safe travels and best wishes,

Mrs. Grubb

To Indi from your Family in Maine

Hi Indi,
This is Uncle Paul..
I want to know if you have run into any octopus yet? I never met any myself, I just want to know if their tentacles are really faster than the eye! Have a great time, I wish I was there with you - although not under water! Love you.

Dear Indi,
I envy you that you are in Belize. I hear the water is great for swimming and the food and fruit are fabulous! I am sitting surrounded by snow, we had nine more inches enjoy all that nice warm sunshine. I look forward to hearing about your trip when you get home. Love and Hugs, Gram

Peanut Post from Emmy

My Dearest Indi -

I can't believe some of the pictures I'm seeing! Amazing! I hope you and your pals are all having a good time and are being safe. Your Mother said there was a picture (trust me, I didn't look at it) of one of your pals holding a Tarantula. .  . then she told me you held one as well. . . . have you not learned ANYTHING from me? That is not being safe!! Just kidding! Do as much weird stuff as you can, hold as many spiders as you want, help as many kids as possible, see as many sights as you have time for, spend as much time as you can enjoying what your doing and who your doing it with. . . . this is a great thing you're experiencing . . . remember every second!


P.S. We miss our 'lil Red here at The Carriage House, can't wait to hear all about it! Forget what I said earlier. . . . stay away from the spiders.

Nicole & Group

WOW!  How beautiful!  What a change from the Mayan Village!

The photo with all of the village students and Clarkies was great!  The ruin experience is extraordinary! We couldn't believe how many folks you interacted with!  It looks like the kids loved all of their presents!  How is the earth there for digging post holes?  Sandy or rock or clay?  We're proud of all of the hard work all of you have put in to make the village life a little better.  I'm sure it is truly appreciated!  The Caye looks beautiful!  We're sure you will enjoy snorkeling and studying the coral.  Are those your 'rooms' in the one photo?  How far is the reef from your Caye?  Can you snorkel from the beach to evaluate the coral? 

It was wonderful to receive another blog from you!  Hopefully we'll get one more before all of you have to come back north!

Ich Liebe Dich!
Mama & Daddy

To Conner

Hey Conner I've enjoyed looking at the pictures from your trip.  It was really good to see you doing manual labor lol!! I think Belize is a place I might have to add to My Bucket List as a place I want to visit.  It looks beautiful and WARM!  It is wonderful to see what nice things you all are doing for that school and those children.  That is something those kids will remember forever.  It is also a trip that you will remember forever!  You're teachers sure deserve a big pat on the back for organizing and allowing this to be a part of your educational experience.  Enjoy the time you have left and bring back a bunch of memories.
Love you
Aunt Lisa  

For Madeline,

We are thinking of you often and enjoy the blogs!
The kids are all sunburned, unlike you, and want
to drive a dune buggy on the beach later today.

Is that little boy in the picture wearing the soccer shoes
that you brought? You both look so happy! We have lots of
questions but will save them for when you have
time to answer them all.

A big Thank You for Elizabeth and Jason for making
this opportunity possible for the students! We are
so grateful to have you there with our children.

Looking foward to seeing all of you soon.


Hey Grace and Everyone

Dear Grace and Friends,

Wow!  What an amazing experience you all are having in Belize.  Maybe we should move there!  I am not kidding.  Belize seems so beautiful in its people and the landscape.  When Mama and I went to Maui for our honeymoon (many moons ago), we spent a day on the East side of the island which is quite undeveloped and looks a lot like Gilligan's Island - beautiful and untouched by industrialization.  I wanted to move there and start a school.  Mama said it was a nice idea but too far from South Bend and the rest of our families.  Maybe you can change her mind when you get home.

You all are doing some great service in the building, painting, and reaching out to the school children.  Giving yourself away to others when you expect nothing in return is the greatest way to unbounded joy in life.

We went to Little Flower last night for the Lenten soup supper.  Mary is making big bucks doing child care.  It was good.  Today, we are hanging out at home.  Tonight, we go to dinner to celebrate Nana's birthday.  She is 38 in her words!  I think you know what that means.

The weather here is the pits.  It is in the 30s at night and 40s and 50s during the day and it is overcast today.  I long to be in Belize doing what you all are doing.

We love you Grace and hope that you continue to pour your heart into this trip, the people, and your classmates.



P.S. Mama says that she hopes that your thumbs are enjoying a much deserved rest... :)  

Peanut Post 8

We've been studying the pics and we're guessing that the woman talking to you while you are sitting on the picnic table is going over some snorkeling dos and donts??? Uncle John, as everyone, is quite impressed with this school trip of yours. We've been fielding alot of questions. Right now Uncle Tony is talking to Mom about you guys and fresh mango juice and what a time you must be having. He's wondering if you've seen cashew trees??? And cashew juice?
Your little devilish smile while painting under the picnic table says you are relaxed and in good spirits. Mom exclaimed the same thing as you when she saw all the children you have been with - pretty special times. Did you see the pic of the girl and boy sitting together at a table smiling?
We spent the day yesterday at the small fishing village of Cortez, off Anna Maria Island and the ballet was beautiful. We'll be spending the morning talking to family and filling them in about you and your fellow SCS travelers. Take care and maybe we'll see one token pic of you wearing the hat I bought you (I know you've just been taking it off when someone points a camera at you). Love ya, Dad and Mom.
     We arrived at Aunt Karens and had dinner w/ Brogan and GF .  He says hello and loving his new job.
We  are going out on boat today and art fest. tomorrow.  Can't wait to see you on Monday.  Also going to see Courtney and her new home.  Miss and love ya lots.  MOM

Friday, April 1, 2011

The View

Hello Everyone-
The view from your camera lens looks like you are really suffering.  Palms, sand, open water, beach chairs...seriously, though, we know you worked hard and you should all enjoy the lovely setting.  Wish we were there!  Cold and rainy here, same weather, different day.  We hope you all haven't been de-climatized by your tropical environs, it will be quite a shock when you disembark Monday night.  Better yet, bring the warm temperatures with you!

All kidding aside, the pictures posted are great.  Your picnic tables looked marvelous, hopefully they will last for many years to come.  The children looked sweet and excited about all of the things you took down to give them.  Kudos to all of you bag-wranglers that got it there to share with the students.  Their smiles say it all.  The stories about teaching and the pictures of many of you interacting with the children in class are my favorite.  Maybe some of you will be inspired to be great teachers like those traveling with you now.   My personal hope is that you all have been so engaged in service and learning that no one has time to think about home or posting to those of us yearning to join you.  It makes your messages and photos that much sweeter.

Not much else is newsy here.  Tell Garrick we checked in, Mary said hello and goodbye to him on her way to a sleepover.  Not much grass growing under her feet, but she did say she was looking forward to you coming home!  Always looking forward to the latest news...

Tobacco Caye

What Makes Mr. Hunter and Miss Keim Happy??

There Are Clouds In Belize!!

Mayan Ruins

From Nicole...

Hey everybody!! Sorry this is only my second blog. So where I left off, we were moving to Maya Center. I don’t remember your many questions, but I didn’t hold a tarantula. My arachnophobia got the best of me. Also, drinking constantly and applying sunscreen and bug spray constantly have become second nature to me. We’ve also seen a lot of animals. We’ve seen two scorpions, three tarantulas, and countless geckos. For Mama, I’m going to list the birds I’ve seen: a slaty-tailed trogon, and black headed trogon, two kinds of hummingbirds, two kinds of kingfishers, a roadside hawk, and a great egret. I’ve also heard a toucan. So, on our first day at Maya Center, we got up and went to the school right away. I helped dig holes for a fence in their garden, and then moved to teach the preschoolers. Their teacher had to teach four classes at once! Erin and I taught them the crocodile trick for greater than and less than signs. The teacher liked it so much, we taught it to all of the younger kids.  (Side Note from Miss Keim - the teacher of that class later told me that she was going to name the crocodile trick the “Nicole and Erin” trick)  One kid gave me a rock. It was so cute! We played soccer with them during recess. The next day, we went back to the school. I helped finish the fence and then paint a picnic table. We also went tubing. We hiked to the site with our tubes and went down the river. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of that but we didn’t take any bags. It would get wet. After getting off, we hiked to a beautiful waterfall. Then we hiked back to the bus. Today, we organized all of our gifts into different classes. It was amazing!! We covered our whole dining table! We also popped my popcorn. Then, we packed our gifts and went to the school. We distributed cups of popcorn, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and gifts. The kids were so thankful! We also played with them, took pictures, built another picnic table, and painted. After lunch, we went to Mayan ruins. We saw a ball court, altars, temples, burial grounds, and carvings. It was really cool! We also came back and just relaxed. Right now, it’s after dinner and we are just hanging out. Tomorrow we’re going to Tobacco Caye! Talk to you later!
Love ya, Ich liebe Dich, miss ya,
Nicole :)
P.S.- I have a nice tan! No sunburn!

Our Work at St. Jude School