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Field Conditions

Field Activities

The field activities take place in a tropical forest environment with poisonous/venomous insects, spiders, snakes, and other animals. Students undergo training prior to and during field excursions on avoiding potential dangers. In addition to being vigilant and avoiding contact with potentially dangerous animals, students are not to walk off trail without supervision and without wearing appropriate clothing (such as high-ankle boots and snake guards).

Students are shown a specific way of walking in the jungle (single-file and a few paces apart from each other). We walk in this manner to avoid falling and tumbling down on top of the next person. It also allows ample time to warn the rest of the team in case of danger. The workers walk ahead of the team, with one staff member in front of the students, the students in the middle, and the other staff in the rear of the crew. No student is to walk trails alone or walk trails in groups without first informing and obtaining permission from the course instructor.

Environmental & Natural Disaster Risks

Belize is potentially subject to tropical rainstorms and subsequently floods. The PfBAP area is located in a tropical wet forest with a lot of rain with high humidity and very humid temperatures. The rainy season in Belize begins mid June and ending November. Students are cautioned to be prepared for hiking and other outdoor activities in inclement weather (rains), heat and humidity. The field school dates are prior to the beginning of the rainy season to avoid potential weather issues.

Cultural Sensitivity & Student Responsibility

Central to any study abroad program is immersion in a new culture and surroundings, which can be difficult at times. Cultural sensitivity and cultural transition discussions will occur during orientation sessions and will be a dominant theme throughout the program.

Students are expected to act in a mature and responsible manner. The program staff may send home any individual whose conduct, in the opinion of the program staff, is detrimental to the program or to the other students. This includes uncooperative or disruptive behavior, alcohol abuse, illegal drug use, and failure to perform satisfactory academic work. Fees will not be refunded if a student is asked to leave the program early.

The avoidance of any illegal drug use, drug purchase, or drug sales cannot be stressed enough. Belizean officials inflict severe penalties on foreigners breaking domestic laws, especially illegal drug use. Students are cautioned that a foreign passport and ignorance of local laws will not protect them nor is it likely that anyone from the program or the U.S. Embassy/U.S. Government (or other embassies) be able to provide assistance if they are arrested or convicted for drug use or other crimes. An arrest of this nature will endanger the future of the project in Belize and may result in denial of future archaeological permit by the Institute of Archaeology (IoA) in Belize.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should consult the HSU Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) in House 71, 707-826-4678, and read about the specific housing and field conditions at the R.E.W. Adams Research Facility before applying. Students are encouraged to meet with faculty to discuss any accommodations needed for the program. Reasonable accommodations may be available for students who have a documented disability. All accommodations must be approved through the Student Disability Resource Center.

Health & Safety

This program will be physically challenging. While in Belize, students are required to hike for many hours daily in very warm and humid weather, while carrying a heavy pack. Students are also expected to be awake and ready for the field before sunrise. We leave for the field from camp at 7:15AM.

Participating students should be in good health, and should have a medical examination prior to departure to Belize. Students are responsible for obtaining all immunizations required by the US Public Health Service for Belize as well as the student's medical condition and history. Students can find information on vaccinations and health precautions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the World Health Organization (WHO) web site.

Medical Facilities

Participants with health issues should be aware that the medical facilities are not the same standard as those in US. Program participants should purchase all prescription medicines needed prior to leaving for Belize, and should bring spare pairs of glasses and/or contact lenses if they wear them. Medical insurance via Wells Fargo Insurance Services for the entire duration of the program is required for each participating student and is paid directly by the student to Wells Fargo. The student may purchase additional coverage (e.g., luggage insurance, etc.) and/or additional length of time if desired.

PfBAP has first-aid kits in the field and large first-aid kits in the laboratory building in camp. Also, there is a nearby clinic for non-threatening illnesses. Medical assistance at the clinic is provided by a registered Mennonite nurse. She has been taking care of students, staff, and volunteers for many years. The course instructor will have her own vehicle to take my students to the clinic as needed. The Mennonite clinic is roughly 15-20 minute drive from camp.

Additionally, Northern Medical Plaza Hospital, located in Orange Walk, has a great facility and offers care for various maladies. The hospital in Orange Walk is roughly a 35-45 minute drive from camp. Belize Medical Associates, located in Belize City, provides excellent health care for any type of ailments. The latter is approximately a two-hour drive from camp.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid by all Belizean providers. Medical expenses that are covered by the required coverage via Wells Fargo and not billed by the Belize provider may be reimbursed to the student by filing a claim form. Most medical facilities accept credit cards. The Mennonite clinic is very inexpensive; the nurse has government grants to provide health care to the local villages, Mennonite communities, and the various archaeological projects in the Orange Walk vicinity.