Why did you decide to enroll with Frontier in Belize?
Joe: I was looking to do something meaningful during my career break, apart from just seeing more of the world.
The idea of volunteering stuck in my head, although I had little idea on what to do. In my research, I looked for a project that combined my main interests of conservation and ecology and found many to choose from.
However, Frontier's Belize project did elevate itself from the rest by being in such an interesting location and country. It also involved my recent adoption of diving as a hobby.
Moreover, as I learned it was a start-up project, I was attracted by the experience of helping to get the project running.
What was the most interesting cultural difference you experienced on your trip?
Joe: After being involved in a fast-paced career previously, living in Caye Caulker was a nice slowing down experience and let me live with more appreciation.
It was a long and much welcomed lesson. It was one of the main takeaways I have from this experience, along with being impressed by the enthusiasm and drive of my young colleagues.
Tell me about one person you met.
Joe: Anik Levac is the Project Coordinator on the project and most helpful in introducing and encouraging me during my time on the project.
For such a young woman, she was so assured in her role and is someone I am still inspired by today.
Her organization and commitment to the project shone through, along with the respect from her colleagues.
She was also very down to earth and approachable as a team leader, and easy to think of as a friend more than anything else.
Was it difficult to navigate around language barriers?
Joe: No difficulties at all. Belize is culturally diverse, but its heritage as a former British colony and proximity to the Caribbean means that English is widely understood even where Creole is commonly spoken.
Spanish is also useful in some areas of Belize, particularly along the borders and south, but not around the cayes.
What was the best moment of the entire trip?
Joe: Obviously, I loved the diving and would have been happy and willing to do much more during my stay. We were mostly limited to the shallow reefs, but these were still beautiful.
The opportunity to see the sealife, while also participating in proper science (in our marine surveys), was very satisfying. Probably seeing a manatee while on a practice survey with Sophie and David (the other two project staff) was the highlight of several highlights.