MTSU Study Abroad Belize successfully launched
|The International Classroom Initiative launch class of 2014 completes taping of the "Rise and Shine" TV show. From left to right (front row), Professor Deborah Wagnon, Sharita Henderson, & Brook Mullinix; (middle row) Jessie Garrett, Kim Albritton, Victoria Richardson, & Emma Mitchell; (back row) Adrianna Martinez, Beth Chitwood, Sam West, Spencer Lawrence, & Daniel Jones (hidden). Photo courtesy of Jessie L. Garrett.|
The “International Classroom Initiative” (ICI) has been in development by MTSU Department of Recording Industry Attorney/Associate Professor Deborah Wagnon for over 2 years and successfully launched as a 2014 MTSU Study Abroad Belize program on June 7-30. Classes were based on campus at the University of Belize in the capital city of Belmopan. The course was attended by both the MTSU students selected to participate in the Study Abroad Belize 2014 program, as well as University of Belize and Belmopan-area students with interest in the subject matter. University of Belize students from all five campus locations had an open invitation to attend any or all of the lecture/guest speaker series.
The group of eleven extraordinary and pioneering MTSU students chosen for this launch were primarily seniors in the Department of Recording Industry program in the College of Mass Communication, and one PhD doctoral student conducting an independent study of the I/P subject matter. The purpose of the Initiative is to establish an ongoing and reciprocal relationship between MTSU and the creative arts, academic and intellectual property/legal communities of Central America, with Belize as a secure, English-language based “portal” for that exchange. Our Belize-based partner and mutual signatory to the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding was critically-acclaimed international record label, Stonetree Records, its founder, the brilliant “world-music” producer, Ivan Duran.
|"True Blue" members of the ICI launch class participate in an audio production session with Ivan Duran (at right of console) at Stonetree Records Studio SSL. Photo courtesy of Jessie L. Garrett.|
The June 7-30, 2014 launch was a focused inquiry into the country of Belize as well as the developing entertainment and intellectual property-related industries of all of Central America. The students were fully-immersed into the Belizean community with wonderful home stay families they now call “family.” The students learned first hand about Belize's desire for growth and reciprocity with the fully-evolved U.S. intellectual property industries, including the business and art of the entertainment industry. While the subject matter spans music, books, film, media, software and any intellectual property content which is subject to protection globally via copyright, trademark and/or patent, the students also participated in a critical analysis of international law, major world organizations and treaties affecting Central America, and the complex history of the Belize-Guatemala border dispute.
The program’s lecture and guest speaker series featured extraordinary speakers with expertise from law, music, media, business, government and education, including Ivan Duran, CEO/Founder Stonetree Records; James Sanker, Executive Director of MIAB (Musicians Industry Association of Belize); Jason Guerrero, Chairman of BSCAP (Belize Society of Composers, Authors & Producers); Margaret Hawthorne, Deputy Chief of Mission & Charges' d Affaires U.S. Embassy Belize; Joe Boski, Chief Political & Economic Sector, U.S. Embassy Belize; Theresa Meyer, Vice Consul, U.S. Embassy Belize; Candace Fischer, Deputy Registrar BELIPO (Belize Intellectual Property Office); Sharon Matola, CEO/Founder of Belize Zoo; Sonya Thomas, Acting Director Peace Corps Belize; and Glenise Williams, Historian/Belmopan Educator.
|ICI members gather at the University of Belize auditorium with US Embassy Belize officers Margaret Hawthorne, Deputy Chief of Mission & Charges' d Affaires (fourth from left) and Joe Boski, Chief Political & Economic Sector (seventh from right). Photo courtesy of Jessie L. Garrett.|
The classes were held in the Auditorium of University of Belize at the Belmopan Campus Monday through Thursday 9AM-1PM over the 3 week period, along with special off-campus meetings at the U.S. Embassy to Belize, BELIPO, the National Assembly of Belize, and a personally guided tour of Belize Zoo. MTSU's Vice-Provost for International Affairs, Dr. David Schmidt, had a short visit in Belmopan during the second week of the program and was able to join the group for the U.S. Embassy Belize and Belize Zoo experiences. The group was also invited to the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen located near the border shared with Guatemala, where the students spent many hours in the fantastic studios of Stonetree Records with Ivan Duran. Ivan, producer of the “Garifuna Collective” including Andy Palacio's worldwide hit album “Watina,” introduced the students to the unique musical and percussive instruments of the Garifuna he used on the three Garifuna Collective albums released to date. The group were real pros in appearing at an early hour with Prof. Wagnon on “Rise And Shine” - a morning national television program, to be interviewed regarding ICI and their personal interests and goals for their time in Belize and the MTSU program.
Two of many memorable excursions on weekends included a trip across the border to climb the great Mayan Temple “El Tikal” in the jungles of northeastern Guatemala, as well as a boat trip from the Caribbean coast of Belize to Caye Caulker near Belize' barrier reef, for sailing, snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles and nurse sharks.
|ICI members show their "true colors" on top of El Tikal while touring Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Jessie L. Garrett.|
In 2015, the University of Belize Regional Languages Center (“RLC”) has now further agreed to provide our program with semester credits to its RLC students, most of whom are from other countries throughout Central America studying English as a second language. The goal is for Central American and U.S. students to learn from each other re culture and language, as well as from the course curriculum.
The Launch Class of 2014 are each contributing a chapter to a published journal series International Classroom Initiative: Belize Central America 2014 (Vol 1), authored and edited by Professor Wagnon for Fall 2014 completion. The eleven Study Abroad Belize 2014 launch participants will be published authors as a result of their adventurous spirits and quest for knowledge about the world. For more information on the Study Abroad Belize program, visit the website here.