Students traveling with the International Service Learning Program to Belize next week are gearing up for an experience of a lifetime. There are 37 students and eight faculty

Elizabeth Pena

members from across campus participating in the excursion, which mixes service work and international travel learning. The group will stay mostly at Pelican Beach Resort in the town of Dangriga.  

“We will be visiting the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, doing some snorkeling and relaxing on South Water Caye (small island off the coast), and visiting the Belize Zoo as part of our ‘excursion’ time,” said Caleb Brooks, ISLP director.

Their service work will take place in the nearby town of Independence at a dental clinic. Eight 3rd and 4th year dental students as well as two faculty members from the dental school will attend to the basic dental needs of students from Independence High School for three days. The Cardinal contingent will also work with students in local schools on topics selected by local leaders and coordinate a medical history collection project.

UofL News checked in with Elizabeth Peña, a junior communications student and University Honors Scholar, about why she wanted to attend this year. Peña has traveled abroad before, to Morocco and Spain. 

UofL News: What made you want to go on this trip?

Elizabeth Peña: I am a Communications major and I was looking for another way to travel while earning class credit. Although Belize and Latin America aren’t my focus of study, I really enjoy service. I was part of the Service LLC my freshman year and I wanted a way to continue that abroad so ISLP seemed like a natural fit.

UofL News: UofL’s ISLP program includes a number of places, why did you choose Belize?

Elizabeth Peña: I didn’t know much about Belize to be honest but I have always been interested in Latin America due to my background (my family is from Mexico). I wanted to explore it past Mexico, so Belize seemed like the perfect place to go to do that.

UofL News: What do you hope to get out of the experience?

Elizabeth Peña: I hope to get a better understanding of service learning in an international context. I really hope to see what, if any, long-term effects our short-term service will have on the students we visit in Belize. Mostly, I hope that the people we visit and interact with get as much — or more — out of the experience as we do.

I’d highly recommend the program because any major can participate.

More Information:

Registration is now closed for the Belize trip. But, check out ISLP programs next year which include the Philippines, Belize, Croatia and Ghana. 


Niki King
Niki King Jones is positive she has the best job at the University of Louisville, serving the communication needs of the departments of fine arts and theatre, the School of Music, University Libraries and Alumni – all the fun, creative stuff. Before coming to UofL in 2015, Niki held communication positions in both private and nonprofit sectors in Louisville, Ky., including at Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Jewish Community of Louisville. For 10 years prior, she was a reporter at various newspapers across the country, most recently The Courier-Journal. Niki graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in journalism and has a masters degree in community and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.