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Jun 3, 2016

Students From Mercer University Interact with Golden Citizens

Eight teacher education students from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia were at Helpage Belize today mingling with our golden citizens, some from the nearby Sister Cecilia Home and some brought in for the occasion. It’s part of a program designed to throw the students headfirst into different cultures and experiences, with the expectation that it will help them when they become teachers. They seem to be adapting well, as we saw when we stopped in at Helpage this afternoon. Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

There are currently thirty-eight senior citizens resident at the Sister Cecilia home, and today some of them spent the afternoon in the company of a group from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Bernard Adolphus, Chairman, Sister Cecilia Home

Bernard Adolphus

“They come here on their own, I think this is their second or third trip. There are students and two professors, and they teach us for example how to avoid falling. When you reach a certain age, when you’re seventy, seventy-five you have a tendency to drop. We see it here. You have to know how to deal with situations. You have to know how to avoid situations like that, and all this comes into our focus so that we can become better professionals or better volunteers in helping our seniors, and that’s the whole ballgame – trying to contribute to make sure our seniors are well taken care of because this world is a wheel and one day you don’t know where you and I may end up.”

 

The lessons and interaction are good for the senior citizens, but what you see happening here is also helping these eight students who are working towards a career in teaching and are doing it through a program called Mercer on Mission started twelve years ago.

 

Michelle Vaughn

Michelle Vaughn, Professor, Teacher Education, Mercer University

“This year we’ve had over two hundred students who go all over the world. I’m the director of this Mercer on Mission to Belize, and we have teacher education students with us. We have eight – four undergraduate and four graduate students. What we are doing is number one, we’re having a cultural immersion. We have fully immersed our students in the culture of Belize. You name it, we’ve tried it. We’ve gone beyond what we know to enjoy Belize .”

 

The group spent two weeks in Seven Miles El Progresso in the Cayo District, a community with no electricity,and also in Hopkins – working along with teachers in several different schools.

 

Michelle Vaughn

“What we’re noticing in the United States right now is a huge influx of immigrants and one way for our teacher education students to be more prepared to teach our students – because keep in mind when you teach if you have a classroom filled with eighteen students, you have a classroom with eighteen diverse students. So when they come down here to Belize, or when they go to other countries they get to explore other countries and it helps them respect other cultures a lot more, it helps them understand the different people that we live around and live with, and they have learned so much of just to be more culturally responsive.”

 

Lesley Stewart, Teacher Education Student

Lesley Stewart

“This program has helped me a lot, just learning and being immersed in the culture, working here and being able to volunteer has been a lot of fun and has helped me to grow, to see what is a developing country and what it is doing and how we can learn from it ourselves. We have a lot of cultures coming into America right now and we’re going to have students like this in our classrooms one day and so being able to teach them is what we want to do and be able to adapt and help them as well.”

 

So it’s a win – win situation for all involved. The students go away with experiences which will help them in their chosen vocation. And these senior citizens get some attention, companionship and love.

 

Bernard Adolphus

“If you notice some of them invited here may not be able to do A, B, C but they’re part and parcel of everything, the country, the whole organization. Without them we wouldn’t be here. We have an international body outside and there’s a need why we have to look after seniors. You would be surprised to know some people just take this opportunity – there’s a home here so they make the first arrangement and disappear – deliver them and disappear, leaving their loved one behind, and then yes the government and those who are behind here, the officials and volunteers have to take care of business because you can’t just put them on the street. They need the help.”

 

The students will be visiting schools and organization across the country during their visit. Mike Rudon, reporting for News Five.

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