Final Week of Barbados

Submitted by Taylor Donahue on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Barbados

The final week of Barbados was full of excursions around the island. Another trip to the west coast led us to Harrison’s cave and Andromeda Gardens. When I thought of Barbados before this trip, I didn’t expect a giant cave system to be underneath the tiny island. Giant stalagmites and stalactites surrounded our group in the cave. The Andromeda Garden had stunning flowers and plants, spanning 8 acres. Seeing both of these beautiful sites in one day made me appreciate the diverse the area is. 

Our group took a trip to a different part of the island to see a live band. The music is always great in Barbados and I’ll miss the energy back home. The band played in Spitestown right on the beach, so we were able to see a stunning sunset. Going to see musicians allowed our group to meet more locals and learn more about Barbados. Learning the bus system was challenging, but worth it in the end. We got to see so many different areas and appreciate them all during the month. 

This experience allowed me to grow a deeper appreciation for Barbados and their struggles. Our courses in coastal engineering allowed us to observe what issues they were having and brainstorm potential solutions. Our final lab was to create solutions for the area of Six Mens since they are experiencing serious erosion problems near their highway. I’m looking forward to bringing this passion back home and seeing what coastal processes I now notice. This experience was once in a lifetime and I;ll forever be grateful I got the opportunity to go. (February 4, 2024)

Farewell to Barbados

Submitted by Michael Rimbey on the 2024 Winter HDFS program in Barbados

In my final week in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, we finished up our placements in the Primary schools and took a few more trips as a group to fully maximize our time in Barbados. In the last two days of placements, I led many more classes as a teacher and also spent more time with the rest of the students during recess after lunch. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because it allowed me to see all of the students and connect with them, doing things that different people enjoyed and wanted me to do with them. Some of these things included throwing American football, kicking around a soccer ball, playing netball, hide and seek, and running races against other students. This truly made me feel like a kid again, and it took me back to when I was younger playing games in Elementary school. I used my experiences in Elementary school to also teach the kids some games we used to play back then in class. It was very hard to say goodbye to the teachers and students I have worked with throughout January, and they thanked us by giving each of us a gift bag from the school which included a polo shirt, mug, and a pen. I had never thought I would meet these people just a few short months ago, but I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and did because I will remember them for the rest of my life. Some of the last trips that we took as a group included a catamaran tour around the South side of the island and also an inflatable waterpark day in Saint James. Both of these trips brought us even closer together as a group and gave us even more memories that we can take back home with us to the United States. Now that I have had the opportunity to reflect on this experience, I am so incredibly grateful for the time I have had and meeting new people from both UD and the island of Barbados. The community in Saint James, where we stayed, has been extremely welcoming and I am leaving the island feeling as though it is my home away from home. I feel I have grown both personally and professionally from this winter study abroad trip and I am leaving telling myself that I will most definitely be back one day. I want to thank everyone that has helped me in this journey abroad and will be officially saying farewell to this study abroad trip of 2024. It is not a goodbye, but a see you later. (Submitted February 2, 2024)

Week 3 in BVI

Submitted by Bianca Soutar on the 2024 Winter NURS program in the British Virgin Islands…

This past week in BVI my favorite thing that we did was go to the elementary school and led a discussion about the purple hands project. The purple hands project is meant to end abuse and violence in schools and communities. First of all it was very interesting to see the schools here and meet all the kids. Right when we walked in they all stood up and greeted us which I thought was really sweet. All the children and teachers were very polite and welcoming to us and seemed very engaged in the discussion. Also, this week we went to Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island. There was so much wildlife on this island, such as lemurs, flamingos, tortoises, and many types of birds. It was so cool to be able to see all the wildlife and also learn about Richard Branson and the history of the island. (Submitted on January 27, 2024)

Bajan Art Culture Excursion

Submitted by Caitlin Greeff on the 2024 Winter HDFS program in Barbados…

Earthworks Pottery

This week, the HDFS Barbados trip had an Art Culture Excursion. This day began by taking a trip to William’s Legacy, a family business where they make beautiful, intricate wooden items. We met Amander, the main woodworker, and her husband and youngest son and watched her make small trinket boxes. Seeing her amazing designs and hearing her speak about her culture made for a very memorable experience. Our next stop was to Earthworks Pottery where we were greeted with amazing views and beautiful pottery. We were able to see the pottery being made inside the shop which was an amazing experience. We stopped at Savvy on the Bay for lunch. Savvy on the Bay sits right on the water where different food trucks are available and live music is playing. The positive vibes and amazing food created a truly memorable experience. As our excursion came to an end, we made one last stop at Rihanna’s childhood home. Seeing her house was eye-opening and amazing to see how far she has come. Her home was refinished for tourists and lies on a street that is now called Rihanna Drive. The Art Culture Excursion taught me so much about Bajan culture that I will bring home with me and keep with me for years to come. (Submitted on January 27, 2024)

Finding Hope in a Hug

Submitted by Sarah D’Antonio on the 2024 Winter service-learning study abroad program in Barbados…

After two weeks into the Barbados service-learning abroad trip, I feel that I have really begun to immerse myself into the Bajan culture. I have learned and am still in the process of learning valuable traditions and cultural attitudes that I can take home with me and share with my own community. With only two weeks left, our professor Dr. Norma Gaines-Hanks recently asked us to reflect on what makes us hopeful about our experience working with the students in our assigned placements. I felt it would be perfect to answer this profound question in a blog post. 

What makes me hopeful about my involvement in this program is the motivation and excitement I feel every morning when I arrive at placement, get off the bus, and become immediately swarmed with hugs from students before I can even make it up their school’s driveway. There is also this sense of sadness that comes over me when the school day is over and I am again swarmed with hugs while I try to make my way out the door. However this sadness also makes me hopeful because it allows me to recognize how lucky I am to feel so appreciated but also be so grateful myself – and how lucky I am to have something that is so hard to say goodbye to. 

I told myself that if I can make just one child smile throughout my time here, then I have made a difference. Their hugs and appreciation remind me of why I am here and what drew me to do this service-learning trip in the first place– to make children feel cared for, seen, and loved. (Submitted on January 24, 2024)

Turtle Boat Adventure

Submitted by Eddie Sollazzo on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Barbados

This week we had the opportunity to ride on a glass bottom boat captained by a man named  Kenrick. Before meeting Kenrick and the boat, we met Marvin on the beach, and he was the person in contact with our captain Kenrick. Marvin was wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey and a vibrant bathing suit. Marvin led us on a short walk down the beach to an area where our boat could pull up right to shore to board. It was time to go! 

While on the way to our first destination, Kenrick had told us that he has been living in Barbados and driving his turtle boat for 50 years. The boat was a medium-small watercraft with an upper deck, it fit our group of 18 just fine. What was special about the boat was the see through glass bottom panels. There were two plexy-glass panels that we could see through and sure enough just as we got to our first stop we spotted a turtle through the boat. Kenrick told us that many of the other glass bottom boat tours did not know of this spot and that it was a special secret. 

Kenrick fixed us all some snorkel gear and encouraged us to swim with the sea turtles. It was an amazing experience. I couldn’t help but think about the fun sea turtles in Finding Nemo, a favorite movie of mine.  

The group had a lot of fun taking pictures and jumping off the top deck. My second favorite part of this adventure aside from swimming with the turtles was learning facts about the estates located on the water. Kenrick told us stories of where Rihanna used to live and currently stays when she comes. It was crazy to imagine that the nearby town that we are staying in is where some of the rich and famous come to vacation.

Community day and East Coast!

This Friday was community day, and we got the opportunity to meet the children of the local St.  James Primary School. We were accompanying the kids for a tsunami drill where we marched up a hill and got to a higher elevation in the case of a tsunami. It is wild to imagine the threat of a tsunami while living on an island but of course it is important to be prepared. After the trip up the hill, we embarked on a 5-mile hike with the children of the school around the town and then back to the beach located near where we are staying. The children were so fun to hang out with. Some people in our group hit it off with the kids and ended the hike carrying their backpacks and holding their hands. It was adorable.  

I hung out with a boy named Sheldon Thomas who had me cracking up. Some of the kids told me that I looked like a YouTuber they watch, but I couldn’t make out the exact name. I am very grateful to have the experience of spending time with the kids and making some new friends. 

Saturday, we had a bus tour planned to explore some of the beaches on the east coast. The water was very interesting to see as the courses we are taking are related to coastal engineering. The east coast of Barbados is facing the Atlantic Ocean, and the waters are much more rough and violent in comparison to the west side which faces the Caribbean Sea. The views were amazing, and we got to take some great pictures. Descriptions would never do the landscape justice, so I’ve included some of my favorite pictures! (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

Service Learning Experience Abroad

Submitted by Olivia Sheetz on the 2024 Winter Nursing program in British Virgin Islands

My third week in Tortola has been full of new experiences and fulfilling opportunities. My highlight of this week was when we visited the local elementary school where we presented the Purple Hands Pledge to the students. The Purple Hands Pledge is used to encourage conversations about using your hands and words for good, not to hurt others. I loved being able to spend time with the students and see how much they enjoyed having us visit their classrooms. We helped the children create their owns hands with the pledge inside of them so that they would hang them up as a reminder each day to be kind to others. This was an amazing experience that I will definitely remember! (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

Final Thoughts

This past week was my last week in the BVI. As I reflect on my time abroad, I am filled with so many emotions. I am extremely grateful for my time spent in Tortola as I met many new friends, experienced other cultures, and learned so much about myself and the world around me. One thing in particular that stood out to me while I was abroad was the sincerity of people in the BVI. Everyone was extremely welcoming and quickly embarrassed us into their everyday lives. We got to know many of the locals and spent countless hours together each day. Our taxi driver, Buckle, became like family to me and the rest of the group. Our relationships with so many others were just like this as well. It was very nice to be accepted so easily by everyone, especially being so far from home. I am going to miss the warm and inclusive personalities of those I met throughout my trip! (Submitted on January 31, 2024)

New Experiences

Submitted by Ashley Cooke on the 2024 Winter Nursing program in BVI

Our second week in the BVI was filled with new experiences. We started our clinical rotations this week in Peebles Hospital. As my first clinical rotation of nursing school, being in the maternity unit gave me a great opportunity to gain exposure to a specialty that I’m interested in. The nurses there were very welcoming and considerate of us and began showing us how their unit is run. In addition to this, we had a great tour of Her Majesty’s prison and learned more of the history of the BVI. On another day, we walked around Road Town and shopped local vendors and small businesses. I wanted to try more local foods, so we went to a little “hole-in-the-wall” bakery. Not that I was surprised, but I really enjoyed the coconut pastry I tried! Taking a hike to the Bubbly Pools and exploring the beaches of Jost Van Dyke was certainly a highlight of my week. Already, I have learned so much and gained so many new experiences and unforgettable memories. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip has in store! (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

The Learning Continues 

The third week in the BVI was definitely busy for us nursing students! The beginning of our week was dedicated to clinicals, assignments, and learning more history of the BVI while touring the Old Government House. In the second half of the week, we had the incredible opportunity to take a trip to Necker island, owned by Sir Richard Branson. There, we took a tour of the island learning about their extensive renewable energy sources and the animal conservation efforts that take place. These animals included tortoises, flamingos, lemurs, and more. Learning Sir Richard Branson’s story and how he was able to become so successful was definitely inspirational for all of us. That day was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. On the other hand, in our free time, I spent a good amount of time reading “Island Queen,” the book we are assigned to read where we meet for book club to discuss. This book is based on a real story about the life of a woman born into slavery in the Caribbean. It voices her life journey through both her successes and failures, but most importantly how she always fought for her family and her unconditional love for all of her children. I was able to finish the book a couple days ago, and I can confidently say that it has changed the way I now view family and race. I am so glad I had the chance to read this book, as I don’t know if I would have picked it out myself, but I feel as though it offers valuable life lessons. (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

Spreading Kindness

This week has definitely been one to remember. We had the opportunity to do so many great things. One of the highlights of my week was attempting to surf for the first time. Our group headed down to the surf school here in Josiah’s Bay. We were able to receive some pointers and help so that almost all of us were able to stand up and ride a wave in. We also visited the Baths on Virgin Gorda, where we were able to hike through the rocks and take some great pictures. However, one day in particular really stood out to me this week, and that was when we visited one of the local elementary schools with the goal of spreading kindness. It was a small school with only about 60 students, so we broke into groups and went into each of the classrooms. I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of fourth graders. While at the school, we talked about the Purple Hands project, whose mission is to educate about the right to live free of abuse and violence. We led a group discussion and created a craft with them where they traced their hand with purple ink and wrote their name and the Purple Hands project pledge in the middle: “I will not use my hands of my words for hurting myself or others.” I loved being able to spread that message to the students and the kids all seemed to really enjoy our presentation. When we would even see some of them around town for the rest of the week, they would run up to us and talk to us for a little bit. This was definitely an unforgettable experience for me! (Submitted on January 29, 2024)

Learning About Barbados

Submitted by Jocelyn Juliano on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Barbados

After my second week in Barbados, I am definitely starting to settle in and getting used to living here. The workload has also started to pick up, but I am making sure to balance my schedule with still getting to enjoy the island and making the most of my days. My usual day here consists of getting up early for class, which is from 8-11am, and then I usually do homework for a couple of hours, and then I go to the beach, or I will go to the beach right after class and then come back in the afternoon to do homework. Either way, it has been so nice to get to go to the beach on most days while we are here. I also have enjoyed getting to experience the food in Barbados. A lot of us have been going to dinner a lot to get to try the food of the island, as well as getting to experience more of the culture here. Some of my favorite dishes have been blackened tuna at a restaurant called the SeaCat, which is across the street from where we are staying, as well as some of the local beach restaurants that have very good food for an easy dinner on the beach. I think a major part of living somewhere is getting to try the food, and I have definitely been trying a lot of new food. 

Some other things that we have been doing have been going on field trips around the island. This week, we went on a field trip to the west coast of the island. We got to see a lot of the different beaches on the west coast. We are staying on the west coast, but it was really cool to see the other beaches. We also related a lot of it to coastal engineering and things that we have been learning about in class, so it was really informative and interesting. The picture I added was from one of the beaches on the west coast tour that we got to see. We also stopped at a restaurant at the end of the trip and talked to fishermen about their experience fishing here and to learn more about the coasts, and about sea level rise that has been happening on the island. Overall, I have been learning so much about the island, and I am so excited for the next few weeks here! (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

A Busy Week in Barbados

The past few weeks have been so fun and such a great learning experience in many ways, from learning more about coastal engineering and Matlab, to also learning a lot about the culture and how to live in another country.  It feels like I have been here for a long time, but it is also flying by, but each day is different and exciting.  

This week was very busy but a lot of fun.  We had another field day, this time to the east coast of Barbados.  It was so cool to see the coast line and the different beaches since they are so different from the west coast which is where we were staying.  The beaches on the west coast are calm and very swimmable, but on the east coast, there are a lot of cliffs, rock formations in the water, and rough waves.  I added pictures below of one of the cliffs that we got to see, as well as a popular location called Bathsheba, which is known for the large rock formations that can be seen in the pictures.  We also went to a lighthouse and toured the site, which was on a cliff and had incredible views of the island.  It was amazing to see and a great way to learn about the coast while also exploring the island.  Another day this week, we got to go to a local school and go for a hike with the students.  We first participated in a tsunami drill with them, which consisted of walking up a very steep hill towards the interior of the island, and then we went for a 3 mile hike around the island and on the beach.  It was a very rewarding experience and helped me to learn a lot about the culture on the island.  Other than that, we had an exam this week, and we have also been busy with school, but we definitely make time to explore the island and experience the culture, and I am really loving the island of Barbados. (Submitted on January 29, 2024)

Last Week in Barbados

I can’t believe it is already time to leave Barbados.  I had such a great experience and learned so much over the past month about the culture in Barbados, and what it is like to live in another country.  During the last week of our trip, we had a few fun things planned for the group.  On Saturday, we went on another field day and went to Harrison’s cave, Animal Flower cave, Andromeda gardens, and a few other places around the island.  Harrison’s cave was the first stop of the day, and we got to take a tour of the cave.  It is a popular tourist destination in Barbados, and it was so cool to see and learn more about the cave and the island.  We went to the gardens next and walked around for a while and got to see a lot of native plants and beautiful gardens.  Animal Flower cave is another popular destination, and I added a picture of the cave below.  The cave is in a cliff and overlooks the ocean once you are inside of it.  Sometimes, you are able to swim in an area in the cave, however, the waves were too rough the day that we went.  Some other things that we did this week include going to a popular farmers market, where I bought a few paintings to hang up in my room.  There were a lot of local stands with paintings, jewelry, food, and other handmade pieces.  We also tried out a different beach on the island which was fun to explore. Other than that, the last week consisted of doing homework, presentations, and an exam, as well as a few group dinners to spend our last few nights together with everyone.  I really had the best time in Barbados and made great friendships and memories that I will never forget.  I learned a lot about myself in the process too, and I am so grateful for the experience, and would definitely recommend doing study abroad! (Submitted on February 3, 2024)

Tsunami Drills

Submitted by Brooke Gaenzle on the 2024 Winter HDFS program in Barbados…

This week was packed! We had a big course load for the week, including an exam, two field trips, and a day with the local primary school. But it was amazing! 

We started our week with a tour of the west coast of Barbados. Our group quickly became friends with our bus driver, Wally, and he added some of his favorite spots to our tour. We saw many beaches, with mostly small, spilling waves, similar to the beach at Bellair’s Research Institute. It was cool to explore the coast, and see so many coastal engineering elements in practice. 

Throughout the week, I balanced coding, engineering, and the beach. I can’t complain too much about homework, because there is really no better place to do it than at the beach. On Friday though, we went outside of our classroom and into one of Saint James Primary School. 

The school was having a tsunami drill and needed some extra hands to keep the students all together. We were told it would be a small walk up a hill to the gathering spot, but we walked for hours! We quickly hit our gathering spot and just kept on exploring the area together after. The students took the drill very seriously, but afterwards, they were stoked to get to know us. 

I ended up hanging out with a couple of kids throughout our excursion. We talked about school and favorite colors, while picking flowers and wading in the waves. They were also really interested in my camera, wanted to learn how to take photos, and of course, wanted lots of photos of themselves. It truly was a one of a kind experience. 

Then we finished off the week by taking a tour of the east coast. This side of the island had insane waves because of the Atlantic ocean. There were cliffs, lighthouses, and so many cool rocks and shells. I absolutely loved seeing the east side of the island, and I am excited to head back to Bathsheba for next Saturday’s excursion. (Submitted on January 20, 2024)