Preparing to Make a Difference

In a few weeks, thirteen students and two faculty members associated with the Myers – Lawson School of Construction will embark on spring break service trip to Belize City. The Myers- Lawson School of Construction routinely partners with Peacework, a global nonprofit organization that brings together the resources that universities have with communities in developing areas.

Students get the opportunity to obtain a week’s worth of hands on building experience. They will focus on constructing a shelter outside of the Gateway Center, an alternative education facility in Belize City.

“Students develop skills geared towards the design and construction planning process. This includes scheduling techniques, creating estimates, conducting design calculations and considerations, and working on design documentations. They will create a quality and safety plan and a budget. All of these materials will be created beforehand and then maintained throughout the trip,” Ashley Johnson, Assistant Professor of Practice at the Myers – Lawson School of Construction said.

“One of the things that is most impelling about this project is that most people when they think about Belize think about resorts, scuba diving, and beautiful beaches when in fact all of those nice amenities are offshore on the island. The mainland of Belize is still faced with the social economic challenges of developing countries,” Steve Darr, the Executive Director of Peacework said.

The South Side of Belize is home to poverty, crime and an extremely high youth unemployment rate. The Pavilion at the Gateway Center will be a place for students to eat their lunch or attend class outdoors so they will not have a reason to stray from the facility, who offers a safe place.

“It is a real effort to support young people in this community who may not have ever had or felt that support before. The Gateway Center builds up their educational achievements to enhance lives and income producing possibilities down the road to support themselves and their families,” Darr said.

Students and faculty on the trip will spend their days from March 3rd to March 11th building from early morning to mid-afternoon. In the evenings, they have the options to explore the community, attend events and spend time with the community partners. The last day of the trip there will be a relaxation day where the students and faculty will head out to Caye Caulker Island.