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Feb 25, 2016

Belizean Students Speak About Life & School in Barbados

More than seventy Belizeans are in Barbados studying at the UWI Cave Hill Campus. They are among thousands from the rest of the Caribbean and other countries.  Now, student life can be tough and adapting to a new environment can be challenging. But for many, it is a way to a means and building camaraderie is a part of campus life that makes the journey easier. Duane Moody and Marleni Cuellar are in Barbados on a media seminar. They caught up with members of the Belize Student Association of Cave Hill pursuing their law degree in the island. Here’s a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It is part of the Lesser Antilles, but Barbados can be considered a giant in the Caribbean. Comparable in size to Ambergris Caye, yet its population matches the entire country of Belize. Barbados is the home of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus – an institution that produces some of the greatest legal minds of the region, including the Speaker of the House, Michael Peyrefitte and Glenn Godfrey, both attorneys from Belize. The Barbadian campus has approximately eight thousand students from seventeen countries within the Commonwealth Region. There are currently seventy-two Belizeans studying in the various programs offered at Cave Hill, but primarily in political science with concentration in law.


Jose Carballo, 3rd Year Student, UWI Cave Hill Campus

Jose Carballo

“It’s really a great experience to get education from somewhere other than Belize, it is still in the Caribbean but you broaden your horizons, you get to know different places, different cultures, different people and I think that is really key. I really like that combination that they had and I think the school offers a really good political science program.”


The Belizean students acquiring a graduate degree in law are primarily youth from across the country with a dream, a will, to give back to Belize in various capacities. Generally, it was a decision made from a young age.


Malique Tillett

Malique Tillett, 1st Year Student, UWI Cave Hill Campus

“It was something that I’ve always wanted to do, from the beginning form primary school I wanted to study law, so I carried that from primary school to high school to sixth form and finally I’m here.”


Israel Alpuche, 2nd Year Student, UWI Cave Hill Campus

Israel Alpuche

“It had been my dream since high school to really get into this program the law program and the closest in the region was actually Barbados and actually the faculty here has a reputation of producing some of the best attorneys that are in the region.”


Roxannie Bowman

Roxannie Bowman, President, BELSAC

“It was pretty hard in the beginning to leave my family behind as any child would however I know exactly that I wanted something more I am here pursuing my goal and that is my motivation and it went easier to get along with the fiends I have and i met other people from different regions, from different countries and that definitely helped to assimilate me into Barbados.”


But while their ambitions would take them outside of Belize; for most, it was their first time leaving not only the country, but comfort – their homes, families and friends. It has been a real emotional struggle for Belize City resident Virginia Requeña. Requeña is the mother of a five-year old son, who took the bold decision in 2015 to leave her child behind with her mind set on the future – a future for her family.


Virginia Requeña, 1st Year Student, UWI Cave Hill Campus

Virginia Requena

“When I first came I was a bit disappointed because there is no place like home but after the first semester you meet people, I became a part of the association and it becomes a little bit easier. Transitioning for me has been a bit a hard because I have a child. And he is five-years-old, and I am little bit older than everyone and I also live on hall where everyone are teenagers, so transitioning I really have a lot of long nights and real down times. So sometimes it is challenging trying to keep my eyes on the prize.”


Many of these students are on scholarships offered by the institution and government. While the value of the Barbadian dollar is also similar to Belize – that is the exchange rate is two to one U.S. dollar – the cost of living on the island is relatively high when compared to Belize. For example, while we pay a dollar for eight bananas, in Barbados, it’s seventy-five cents to a dollar for one. So budgeting skills and becoming an independent teenager is a must to adjust.


Malique Tillett

“Living expenses compared to home is really different, really different, back home things are way cheaper, back home you can get things way easier. I didn’t expect it to be easy to transition over but the hardest thing form e is not being around my family, my friends and that’s pretty much it for me. Adjusting to cooking, that’s something new to me.”


Israel Alpuche

“The most challenging part is the adjusting, it’s a whole new lifestyle than we are use to in Belize and that is not just economic lifestyle but being able to properly budget yourself especially making a balance between your social responsibilities and a balance between your educational responsibilities.”


Transitioning is really the biggest challenge that out of state students face when studying in Bridgetown, Barbados. And that’s where the Belize Student Association of Cave Hill comes in. It’s a group that, through its big brother/sister program, assists students with issues of assimilation into their new environment.


Roxannie Bowman

“BELSAC is a nonprofit organization, it’s a welfare organization for the students coming in, to make the \transitions easier from home to here. Not only; when it comes to accommodations, when it comes to settling into class, registration, not only that during the semester to have comfort food and to ambassadors of our country for Cave Hill. We have Belize week, it’s a sports day were we Come together as Belizeans. BELSAC is one of the smaller organizations, smaller student associations at Cave Hill but we have a lot of students on scholarships and that helped us and it has been growing more and more every year.”


So if you’re looking for an education that leads to Cave Hill, this is the reality….


Roxannie Bowman

“Find that opportunity because a lot of people don’t have the opportunity, however UWIO itself has scholarship and it’s mainly based for the indigenous people, the Mayan and the Garifuna people. So we have that already and so it’s just to get the opportunity. And if you have that opportunity then definitely take it opens your eyes and just being out is education by itself.”


Malique Tillett

“Come with an open mind i would say come expecting that yes, it’s not as easy as home, but yes, it’s a sacrifice for your future; so no matter what dive into it and get ready for the challenges ahead.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Belizean Students Speak About Life & School in Barbados”

  1. concerned says:

    Wonderful reporting! Good luck to all you young, beautiful Belizean minds! Hang in there and make us proud!

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