FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ- STFL recently made its presence felt thousands of miles away from home.
Two days after Franklin High School’s (FHS) graduation ceremony, five members of STFL along with FHS Students Assistant Coordinator, Stacy Hale, an STFL Advisor and a parent chaperone flew to Belize.
The trip to Belize was completed through an Education First Educational Tours program (EF). Over the course of the trip, the group was able to explore Belizean culture, participate in adventurous activities, and give back to the community.
“One experience that was tough for me was most definitely hiking because hiking through all the mud, rain, and bugs was pretty difficult,” FHS Sophmore Kimani Thomas said. “Seeing my group and the leaders and our EF Tour leader push through it and go through the same thing I was going through encouraged me to keep going. At the end of the day, it was really fun.”
The group had the pleasure of being able to travel to multiple locations such as Belize City, San Ignacio, and Ambergris Caye. The seven-day trip was absolutely incredible, allowing the group to immerse themselves in the wonders of a terrain that is contrastingly unlike their day to day lives.
“What I like about EF Tours is that they provide you with a tour guide that stays with you the entirety of your trip, which is very helpful,” FHS 2017 Graduate, Aniya Outler said. “The Tour Guide’s passion can be felt as they participate and interact with you to make you feel comfortable. They also provide water to make sure everyone is hydrated.”
FHS Students Assistant Coordinator and STFL Advisor Stacy Hale said. “EF Tours really takes care of you. They plan out your day by the minute, so we’re constantly doing excursions and learning while still having fun. If I had the opportunity to do this again, I definitely would. I definitely 100% would go with EF Tours because I know they do take care of you. Safety is number one, they feed you, and place you in hotels that are very accommodating. The next place we may be going is Costa Rica or Africa. Parents are more than welcome to come on any STFL EF Tour!”
Although the Belize trip was full of experiences like hiking, zip lining, a trip to the Chaa Creek Natural History Museum, and the Belize Zoo. There was also time to visit a local school in San Ignacio called San Jose Succotz, Roman Catholic School. During the visit, the girls were able to dedicate some of their time to learn more about the institution and spending time with the children. The visit to San Jose Succotz served as a humbling one that allowed the girls to be more appreciative.
“Belize impacted my perspective on life because the people are so happy,” FHS Sophmore Amira Shumate said. “The children get excited if you give them little things, such as a toy, but in America, there’s so much crime and hatred. Out here, all they know how to do is love you, so it makes you more kind hearted towards things. It makes you look at things a lot differently.”
Considering that the values of STFL include missions to promote education and humanitarian efforts. STFL has decided to fundraise money for San Jose Succotz, Roman Catholic School at the start of the next school year. Through various fundraising efforts, STFL aims to help raise money for the school to help improve their facilities. They would like to upgrade and expand their outdoor meeting area to host more programs for the children, parent programs, and graduation ceremonies.
The cost to upgrade is $8000 Belizean money equaling $4,000 US dollars. Hopefully, with the support of Franklin Township and STFL’s fundraisers, San Jose Succotz will be able to get the renovations they need and deserve.
The purpose of Education First Educational Tours program is to empower students through learning by experiencing different cultures first hand. Bridging the gap between cultures creates a deeper level of understanding for students to connect to. Immersing oneself in a new culture further supports the idea that global awareness is essential to cultural richness. The Tour program equips groups with a tour guide to lead the group through their daily itinerary. EF Tours provide language immersion tours, service learning tours, and custom-designed tours catered specifically towards the curriculum your students are studying. More information about the EF Tours and planning may be found here.