Over spring break, it is not uncommon for students to travel to new places, whether it is for fun or to volunteer. However, Breanna Vogel, a junior majoring in agriculture education, communication and leadership, will be traveling to a familiar place—Belize.
“At this point, it’s not about checking countries off my list, it’s about finishing what I started,” said Vogel, a native of Winona, Minnesota.
When she was a freshman, Vogel visited Belize for an educational service learning trip class, EDFN 492.
“When I went there, I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “At first, I hated it. We stayed in the dormitories and there was no air conditioning or hot water.”
Vogel helped paint and rebuild shutters for a school on her first trip. The shutters were old and broken, failing to keep out rain and other elements, ruining the school’s materials. Vogel and other students also taught different skills to the children. She taught soil quality and it was the interaction with the students that made her want to return.
“We need to know how to relate to these students and where they come from,” Vogel said.
One student in particular, a boy named Byron, was bound to a wheelchair. She had spent some time with him on her trip and had created a connection. A few months after her departure, she found out Byron had died.
“That’s what made me want to go back, in my heart I really had made a connection there,” she said.
Now, Vogel is going back for an honors independent study. There are 12 students and 12 community members, each with different skills, going to Belize to share their knowledge.
Vogel said serving others has always been a passion, but teaching sustainable agriculture in other countries is a goal of hers as well. She said that when she first went to Belize, a new Career Technical Education, or CTE, school was being constructed. The school teaches practical skills such as raising chickens and growing fruits and vegetables. Vogel is excited to see the completion and how she can pair the school with programs such as the National FFA Organization to see how she can better serve the people of Belize.
“I want to explore the impact that we have by going there,” she said.
Despite not having the comforts of air conditioning and hot showers, Vogel said since she knows what to expect when visiting Belize, she can get down to business.
“I think I can get more out of it … I know what it’s like now so I think I will be more focused on my goals and my mission,” she said.