Tuesday, November 25, 2014

July: Pepperdine's Global Leadership Conference in Placencia, Belize

First let me say I don't recommend going to Belize during hurricane season. We didn't experience one while there, but it sure was windy, rainy, and hot. So why go to Belize in July? Because that's when Pepperdine's International Center for Global Leadership was having their conference and my paper on using short-term study abroad programs to help develop students' intercultural leadership skills was accepted for presentation. (It was also subsequently accepted for publication in Pepperdine's Journal of Global Leadership, so it was definitely worth the trip.)


Anyway, a few weeks after spending some time back home (including moving Nick to Detroit and celebrating my 63rd birthday) we were back on a plane headed for Belize - another place I had not ever visited and which became country #40 for me. The conference was held in Placencia, which is in the southern part of Belize. After flying into Belize City we boarded a tiny little propeller plane with six other passengers and proceeded to do the puddle jumper hop down to Placencia. Although a little unnerving, we did get to see a lot of the country - mostly flat, wet land filled with shrimp and tilapia 'farms' interspersed between groves of banana and other palm trees. After three stops (can't call them airports, they were just landing strips cut into the jungle), we landed at the little airport in Placencia. After waiting quite a while because of a mix-up with the resort, were picked up (along with a couple on their honeymoon) and transported to Roberts Grove Resort, where the conference was being held.

Because of the location, this was a very casual conference. Presentations were more about the conversation and the attendees were in large part Pepperdine PhD students in the Organizational Leadership program. The welcome reception on the first evening (held at palapa the end of the resort's dock, below) set the stage for more interaction among participants than I had experienced at other conferences. Many of these students were full-time managers so I had some great conversations.

John didn't have quite as good time. Not a beach person and with the water too rough to do any of the many water sports available at the resort, he didn't find much to do. We went into the little village of Placencia after the conference was over, but there wasn't much to do there either.

We did not get to experience much of the Garifuna culture of Southern Belize, but the colorful stripes of their flag are evident in much of the clothing, such as this knit hat.

Other than the great fresh fruit at breakfast and some of the seafood, most of the food was unremarkable. 

The view from our room was great and the people I met at the conference were wonderful - but it was a very hot, damp, and windy few days!

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