A Beautiful Culture

 If you could steal a part of culture to bring home, what would it be?

During my time in Belize, I got the pleasure of learning all about their culture. While there are many amazing things about Belizean culture, the one thing I would steal and bring home is their hospitality. I have never met such generous and welcoming people in my entire life. To the people of Belize we are outsiders, and yet I felt like I was treated better than most places back at home in the US. This all started when we had dinner the first night at RD’s restaurant. We had a decent amount of people in our group with food allergies or specific dietary needs. Not only did he go above and beyond to accommodate them, but he was so proud and excited to show us his style of cooking. His food was incredible and delicious, and each meal I got to eat there had a little piece of Belize in it. The people who had allergies got entirely different dishes of their own, not just adjustments to the food. I could see in his face how excited he was to share his culture and passion with us, and to me that is so wonderful. The second time I saw this hospitality in action was during our house visits. There was more than one occasion where we visited a house and were shown extreme gratitude. On one visit, we were invited inside to sit and relax and have some bottled water. It was clear that we were hot and tired, and even though we were there to help them, they wanted to help us too. On another visit, the father actually got a ladder, climbed his mango tree, got us down mangos, cut them up, washed them, and bagged them up for us. I couldn’t even believe that someone would be so generous to see us and immediately want to gift us something. Every time I saw someone in public, I would get a smile, hello, or a “welcome to Belize!” I never felt threatened or un-welcomed my entire visit and that is so incredible. Every restaurant that we went to had to accommodate almost 40 of us. This is no easy task, and yet they were so happy to have us that it seemed like it was simple for them. They never complained or seemed frustrated, just welcomed us with open arms. If I could bring back one part of the Belizean culture, I would steal their hospitality. I know for a fact that people here in the U.S. are nowhere near as welcoming and friendly, especially to people who they see as an “outsider.” I learned on this trip that we are an us, not a them. The situation that someone was born into does not make them any different than we are, and Dr. Overman says it perfectly: “We are more alike than we are different.” This mindset keeps the people of Belize so friendly, generous, and kind. I wish more people were like this.