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Nov 29, 2001

S.J.C. students explore ethnicity

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It was called “Belizean Ethnicities-Sharing the Gift of Who We Are.” But don’t let the name fool you; today’s exercise at SJC was not your everyday classroom experience.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

This morning, the sounds of exotic music filled the Student Centre at Saint John’s Junior College as the sixth formers celebrated the ethnic diversity of Belize.

Sis. Brenda Flores, Teacher, S.J.C.

“But we want some deeper insight into understanding the culture, and we hope that it will bring about greater sensitivity.”

So today, the students hit their peers hard with a colourful collection of cultural presentations…like Lebanese dances.

…And even dared to enter the kitchen to conjure up South American Food.

Andrea Graham

“It was very fun. We also had to look for the recipes for these foods, which took a long while. When I was looking for them, they seemed really interesting, I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and cook it to see it would look and taste.”

Janelle Chanona

“Did you taste test it?”

Andrea Graham

“Yeah, I tasted some of them. Some of them didn’t look too…but it was fun, I must say.”

Some booths featured familiar scenes, like a traditional Mexican market.

Jordana Riveroll

“We were supposed to do entertainment, and this is like a very big thing in Mexico. It’s not necessarily to go party, but this is like the thing that people go out to the markets and browse around or just pick up groceries and stuff.”

While others showed respect for revered traditions.

Elisa Ariola

“This is the “Cielo”. This is after the person is dead they have nine nights like the Mestizos, where they pray to the person. At the end of the day they have a get together with the family and haul this down and whenever you haul it down and you her a family member cry it’s because the family is reliving the time the person died and they can’t believe it. That is what the whole altar here… they do the same thing like the Catholics, such as saying the rosary.”

One challenge facing many groups is the task of keeping their traditional practices alive, and the Chinese culture is no exception.

Chris Sun

“Now in modern times…that’s why we’re trying to keep our cultures remembered because more and more people are forgetting their cultures. To show them how great our culture is, how beautiful and ancient the Chinese people are.”

But something unique to the Creoles is the recurring question of whether or not they have a culture to begin with.

Jeneen Williams

“The Creole culture is everything that you see here that’s a part of our daily life. Look around, you have the different artefacts that the Creoles used to utilise. Look at the parlour, the setting, it shows everything that is special to us as Creoles, besides the food.”

Janelle Chanona

“So what you want people to leave your booth knowing about the Creole?”

Jeneen Williams

“A sense of appreciate for the fact that yes, we do have something that we can call our own and everything about Creole is not Americanise. And just to feel good about themselves as a Creole when they leave the booth. And if you’re not a Creole, just to appreciate our culture.”

Sis. Barbara Flores

“If they as young people who are going to be the leaders of Belize, who already are, if they get a deeper understanding of what it means to deal with people who are different from themselves, I think it will make all the difference in terms of how they lead this country and how they include all of the cultural representations in making decisions for Belize.”

But in the midst of all the hard work, the students also made sure they had plenty of fun. This box promises to contain a live turkey…and hey, it really does. (box contains a mirror) Reporting for News 5, I am Janelle Chanona

Organisers hope that the ethnic fair will become a yearly event.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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