School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

The UM/Belize Beat

Posted on: January 25th, 2012 by

More than 60 University of Mississippi students have taken part in service-learning projects in Belize over the past couple of years. This year, five journalism majors were part of a group of 24 students who traveled to Belize for Winter Intersession courses. They spent most of their time in San Mateo, a small community on the island of Ambergris Caye in northern Belize, where residents struggle to survive without electricity, roads, running water, decent housing and sewage systems.

Undergraduate journalism majors Aubry Killion, Cain Madden, Margaret Ann Morgan and Katie Williamson, and graduate student Jajuan McNeil, spent the first two weeks in January in Belize. The multimedia reporting course was led by Assistant Professor Patricia Thompson. Mikki Harris, who joins the journalism faculty in August, served as photography/video consultant. The journalism project was sponsored by the Office of Outreach.

This year’s Wintersession service-learning group helped build a road in San Mateo, conducted a Winter Camp for San Mateo children, and worked in a clinic in San Pedro.  They also helped children and teachers in schools in Punta Gorda, in the southern part of Belize. Nineteen Ole Miss students were enrolled in the social work, education and exercise science courses. Their faculty leaders were Kim Shackelford, associate professor of social work; Martha Bass, associate professor of health and exercise science; and Deborah Chessin, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and coordinator of study abroad and service learning. In addition, five Ole Miss students who had participated in projects in Belize in the past returned to help with the road-building project during Wintersession.

Thompson and the journalism students are now back on campus, working on production of a depth report, TV packages and videos about Ole Miss ties to Belize.

For a photo gallery of journalism students working on the project in Belize, check out our Facebook gallery.