SUNY Farmingdale nursing student travels to Belize


This summer, Jessica Burawa, 21, of Patchogue, spent four weeks in Belize studying global health and participating in clinical nursing rotations. The program was organized by the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad (CELA), and provided nursing students from various colleges and universities with a unique opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge in global health and community health nursing.

While in Belize, Burawa studied a range of global health issues and developed a deeper understanding of what it means to be a health worker in a different social and cultural context. She shadowed Belizean nurses and gained valuable insight in diverse health care delivery methods. Not only did Burawa benefit professionally, but she also had the opportunity to immerse herself in the vibrant culture of Belize. 

CELA has animal science, veterinary, and human health programs for undergraduate and veterinary students, as well as internship programs throughout Belize. Programs are offered in summer and winter and are two to four weeks long. Interested participants can inquire or apply at Professors and teachers who want to travel with a group of students to Belize can work with CELA to connect their students with local conservation projects, schools, development projects, and service learning opportunities.

By following a study abroad model instead of a voluntourism model, CELA focuses on educating its students so that they can contribute and serve in meaningful ways. Students learn from the expertise of local Belizean staff. It also works with locally run organizations so that students contribute to long-term improvement on the ground in the countries they visit. CELA has been based in Belize for over a decade, and with the help of students like Burawa, continues to help support important sustainability and development projects in Belize. 

The program’s managing director Jane Stine said, “Our students come to Belize because they want to experience another culture in a way that supports and learns from the local expertise. On this program, they have the chance to see Belize from a Belizean point of view and learn from our amazing team, and we love seeing them bring that knowledge and experience home to move even further in their medical careers.”

Of her trip, Burawa said, “This experience through CELA Belize has allowed me to gain valuable knowledge that I could not have learned from a textbook. Moving forward I will be more considerate and open to traditional cultural practices and the overall beliefs of other people. I would recommend this program to anyone interested in working in health care. 
After my second two-week internship in Belize, I was able to learn about their healthcare system and how Belize makes the most with what they have. I expanded on skills I had and learned many new ones while also learning how to be more culturally competent. The memories and knowledge I acquired from this experience will be long lasting.”

Burawa is a second semester senior at SUNY Farmingdale in Farmingdale, majoring in nursing. She will be graduating this December 2023.


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