Over Spring Break 14 Drewids had the opportunity to go on the shortTREC to Belize. The overall focus of the trip was to observe the health of the world’s second largest coral reef. The students also studied a variety of different species of coral and marine life in the area. The trip was led by Dr. Tammy Windfelder, an Associate Biology Professor, who has been leading the trip since 2010. Paris Scarano, a University Lecturer, also accompanied the students on the trip.
COURTESY OF CHRIS SIRAGUSA
Belize was the only Spring shortTREC that was not cancelled. The other ShortTRECs going to Switzerland and France, were cancelled as a precautionary measure for slowing the spread of the now-pandemic COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus. The cancellation came a couple days before the start of trips after careful analysis of European health and consultation with education abroad professionals in the regions, according to an email sent out from Dean Liebowitz and Dean Merckx.
“[The students] were worried that the trip would be cancelled,” said Cristina Riccio (’20). “We took precautions while traveling and [we] looked out for each other to make sure there were no complications while traveling and studying abroad.”
In order to be a part of the shortTREC there was an application process in which a series of questions and essays prompts were given to figure out who will be on the trip. The application, according to the students who went, was not difficult. However, there was a course prerequisite that needed to be completed before the trip.
“I decided to go to Belize because, ever since I heard of it my freshman year, I did everything I could to go on the trip,” said Chris Siragusa (’21). “I learned how to scuba dive for the trip.”
When they weren’t studying inside, the group was able to have some fun snorkeling and scuba diving in the reef. Student’s had the ability to snorkel two to three times a day with marine life such as sharks, dolphins, stingrays and even a 12-foot manta ray. This allowed a first-hand observation of the different marine life behaviours for their research.
Both Riccio and Siragusa would highly recommend the Belize trip to other students in the future. Ricco said that although the daily schedules were packed, it was an unforgettable experience filled with what she called “the beauty of nature, both on land and in the ocean.”