Every November, at school, the kids learn about and celebrate all of the cultures of Belize. Belize has so many cultures and communities with rich histories and present day traditions that make Belize a truly unique place. It’s not a melting pot — some communities consist of ONLY those people with the same heritage and culture. But all of the cultures respect one another and work and live as neighbors. Sometimes I think of the different cultures and communities as baseball teams — the players from different teams have a lot in common, they like to play with each other, but they can also be competitive about whose team is the best.
Belize has several Maya cultures, Mestizo, Garifuna, Creole, Chinese, and Mennonite. The official language of Belize is English, but the commonly spoken language is Kriol. So, typically a Belizean may speak 3 languages. They speak one language of their cultural identity (e.g., Garifuna), as well as Kriol and English. Throughout each day, Belizeans will use all three. If you are in a room with mixed cultures, you’ll speak Kriol, but if someone walks in the room the only speaks English, everyone will switch to using English.
This year at the kids’ school, each classroom was assigned a culture to present. Fay’s class had Maya, Rex’s class had Mestizo. The kids in each class needed to make posters on the music, language, clothing and history. On the day of presentations, the kids dressed in the traditional clothing of their classroom’s culture. Parents made food to represent the different cultures. Some other rooms represented Chinese, Garifuna and Creole.