BELIZE CITY, Belize – The opening ceremony for New Horizons Belize occurred at 10 a.m. March 25, 2013, at Ladyville Technical High School.<br /> <br /> The U.S. ambassador to Belize; minister of education, youth and sports; commander of the Belize Defence Force; Task Force Mahogany commander; senior defense official for the U.S. military liaison office; service members from the Belize Defence Force and the U.S. military; and leadership and students from area schools were among those in attendance.<br /> <br /> New Horizons is an exercise led by U.S. Southern Command providing medical and dental treatment as well as constructs needed structures, such as classrooms, throughout Belize. It gives U.S., Belizean and Canadian service members the opportunity to train side-by-side in an exercise setting, in order to be prepared to meet future challenges when and where needed.<br /> <br /> Patrick Faber, minister of education, youth and sports, discussed the importance of education in Belize.<br /> <br /> “It is the foundation upon which this nation can push its self forward,” he said. “We are grateful for the partnership that the United States continues to grow with Belize.”<br /> <br /> Faber continued and said, the best gift one nation can give to another is education.<br /> <br /> “[Education is a gift] that will certainly empower our people in this nation to continue to have them be productive citizens,” he said. “We in this nation are very grateful for this kind of assistance.”<br /> <br /> According to Faber, education is very important to the country of Belize because 75 percent of Belize is 35 and younger. He closed with comments directed to the students of Ladyville Technical High.<br /> <br /> “Go after your goals and your ambitions, no matter what they are. Believe in yourselves.”<br /> <br /> The U.S. ambassador to Belize, Vinai K. Thummalapally, closed the ceremony with several comments. <br /> <br /> “I am proud of this exercise and proud of everyone who has worked on this project with the government of Belize. It is another example of a truly healthy partnership,” he said. <br /> <br /> Thummalapally concluded his comments stating, he looks forward to continuing the close relationship with the people and government of Belize. <br /> <br /> “This is a real endorsement of our friendship.”<br /> <br /> The ceremony ended with a poem recited by five Ladyville Technical High School students. After the ceremony, guests were invited to partake in light refreshments made by students enrolled in the school’s hospitality program.