Sunday, April 19, 2009

Since nothing is really happening today, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little bit more about the Belizean culture, specifically something that is unique in my opinion. As I have explained, the school is tightly knit to religion, specifically Catholicism. As a result, students have to take a scripture class at school, there are crucifixes scattered throughout the school, and before school starts, the teachers often take part in a staff prayer. While they are also very religious, students also have a course called life skills, that is more like our health and wellness class that teaches students how to make good life decisions. 

What we learned early on is that Belize has the highest rate of HIV and AIDS. Throughout the town you see billboards and signs that promote the use of condoms and safe sex. I found this extremely interesting, especially given the inherent religious nature of Belizean culture. Having taught in the south, there is a clear debate between those who believe in teaching abstinence and those who believe that we need to teach our students how to practice safe sex. While I'm not going to share my personal views on this topic, I think it is fascinating that Belizean culture is able to put their religious and personal views aside to preach for a cause that best serves everyone, especially young adults. It seems as though Belize has realized that HIV and AIDS has become an epidemic that has gotten out of control and, as a result, they moved away from the push for abstinence to a campaign that tells people that, if they are going to have sex, be safe and use protection. 

In America, we have this great debate and it seems like one that constantly conflicts with our personal morals. Whereas the United States cannot seem to settle on what is best for our culture, Belize has whole-heartedly adopted a plan to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by choosing a campaign that best suits them. They realized that people were going to have sex no matter what, and decided to teach them how to practice is safely. I don't know how successful this campaign has been, but I can't go a block without seeing a billboard that promotes safe sex. It is crazy to me, because I think topics such as this are rather taboo in our culture and we have a hard time discussing this, for fear of angering someone. This is not a topic I necessarily feel strong about, but one that is seemingly unavoidable here in Belize.

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