By Jared Leatzow
MONTAGUE – Montague High School played host to a special guest from the country of Belize Monday, Feb. 3 to Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Filiberto Penados is the engaged scholarship director and the professor of education and indigenous studies for the Center of Engaged Learning Abroad. He is working with Carson Letot, teacher and FFA advisor, to plan a student trip to Belize over Spring Break in late March.
Penados has his PhD in education studies and has worked for both the University of Belize and Galen University.
“I’m part of an organization in Belize that does programs for students from U.S. and Canada. A kind of study abroad program where they go do a variety of things,” said Penados.
“In the case with Carson the students are interested in agriculture, in environmental science, ecology. So I hope to organize programs like that. We have been running programs for that for eight years.”
Penados decided to visit Montague High School prior to his attending the Global Learning in Agriculture conference at Penn State University in Pennsylvania.
Letot and Penados previously met at a Global Learning in Agriculture conference. The two met through the two professors that started the conference.
Penados said he has visited several universities in the U.S., but it’s unique for him to visit a high school.
“This is kind of unique. I’ve been to the U.S. and Canada, and I’ve been to universities, but I’ve never really been to high schools. It is great I get to see the students in their environment and the type of things they are interested in,” said Penados.
The trip to Belize is limited to only a handful of students. Penados said the advantage of visiting Montague High School is that he can educate students in advance about his country.
“Students are going to get to hear about Belize before they go there. Also the program is able to reach students beyond the small group that is going. So the other classmates are able to hear about the program and learn a little bit about Belize. So it was a great opportunity to come and visit the high school,” said Penados.
Belize is a small country with a population of about 360,000 people. It is located in Central America. It is south of Mexico and east of Guatemala.
The country is the only English speaking country in Central America, and was once a British colony. It gained its independence in 1981.
Culturally, Belize is very unique with several different ethnic groups living in the country. There are Mayan temples in the country that can be explored.
The country is heavily forested, most of which is protected. It is also a popular tourist destination for scuba divers.