As most students headed to their homes after final exams had ended, a group of ten Loyola University New Orleans Baseball players traveled to Belize to spend their Christmas break as Wolf Pack volunteers. Teaching young Mayan children in an isolated Mayan village in southern Belize. They all went with a commitment to help the children, but came back realizing how much they have been helped.
“It was a whole new experience for me, as it was for the kids,” says Jesse Jordan (‘19). “They had a teacher in their classroom they had never seen before, from a land they know very little of. . . . . Yes, it was exhausting and had me sleeping well at night, but I couldn’t help but smile along with my students in our time together. I enjoyed it more than expected, and became much more emerged in teaching than I could have imagined.”
The ten Baseball players facilitated a Christmas camp for the local primary school children of San Jose Primary School. Over 120 school children arrived each morning to be taught by the Loyola students, teaching math, English and arts and crafts. Bringing down school supplies along with bats, gloves, baseballs, and other supplies, each afternoon was spent learning baseball, a new sport for the children – playing tee ball and trying to catch fly balls and grounders. Living in the village community center, sleeping on mats on the ground, it was a rural village with no electricity or running water. The Loyola students had to bathe in the river and live on local Mayan food each day.
“The memories I have will never go away, and the stories I tell of the trip get more vivid and complex the more times I tell it,“ says senior Nick Moore . “This trip impacted me in such a positive way that I feel I have a better appreciation for what I do have and know that I still have a lot of work to do to attain true happiness. The lessons I learned on this trip will stick with me for a long time.”
The Wolf Pack Volunteers was facilitated by University Chaplain Father Ted Dziak, S.J., who is also the Chaplain for the Loyola Baseball team. The volunteers spent the fall semester preparing for their trip, learning about the country, the culture and the people they would learn from and serve with. In addition, they raised money through fundraising activities. The children of Holy Name school, right next door to Loyola’s campus, even held a ‘penny war’ to support the Christmas Camp. The volunteers put Loyola’s mission to become men and women for and with others into practice in their ten-day trip to the Mayan villages of Belize.
“As a whole, my personal experience was filled with love, learning, and deepening my relationship with God, said Spencer Rosenbohm (‘18). . .“I felt like every single day in Belize God was directly talking to me in some way or another. When we first got there and we were cruising through the country side, I couldn't help but think that only God could create such a unique and beautiful country with the sun coming over the rainforest covered mountains with clouds rolling over them.”
The Wolf Pack volunteers participating in the program were: Ben Condara, Mick Dubic, Rawlings Elam, Jesse Jordan, Nick Moore, Jordan Platt [Team Leader], Spencer Rosenbohm, Cody Rutscher, Charlie Seiter, Blake Toscano [Team Leader]. Staff included: Peter Stewart and recent alumnus Kevin Lindsey and Father Ted Dziak, S.J. [Director].