Wednesday, September 19, 2012

National Gringos Day

Today, as I participated in the painting of a park on North Front Street, Belize City, I realized that perhaps, a more down to earth way of saying "National Service Day" is "National Gringos Day" . 

In Belize, volunteerism is not something we regularly chose to do. They are many organizations both governmental and non-governmental organizations which depend on foreigners to come to our assistance. They bring a passion for service, gifts, and cash. People tend to admire these "white people". They're generally very welcomed into our communities and homes.

From my experience, most volunteers are from the United States. They're service in Belize helps in the success of many projects and social services provided in our country today. They assist in the construction of churches and services such as care for the orphans.

At times, I wonder how this impacts our social psyche, creating a sense of dependency, This dependency I've observed causes people to not take the initiative in carrying out projects without the help of the foreigners. Additionally, it may very well impact our desire to want to be more Americanized in our way of thinking and being. This is not discourage foreigners from their services.

Today's National Service Day was as a result from the George Price Centre initiative. I for one admire this idea. I hope it takes root in the September events and in the Belizean culture. Volunteering is very much lacking.

We all have some level of skills and talent which we can use to contribute towards the betterment of our community and nation. If our skill is to write poetry - we can form a peotry club at one of the House of Culture/Library/School. If our skill is playing basket ball - we can train the younger ones. Etc. Etc.

Community Service should be one of the prime values inculcated to students. But it goes beyond the school building itself. Each time we throw garbage outside the bus - we are teaching. We are teaching others that it's okay to do so.

Imagine, if we would all chose to pick up the next piece paper as we walk on the street. People are observing you and will likely be impacted by your behavior. We are all role models. People are looking up to all of us Belize - why not make them proud, why not teach them values that will positively impact the life that our predecessors will live.

Now today, was the start of this initiative, there was a good momentum of activities across the country. Hopefully, in years to come the average Joe will get involved and more Belizeans will develop the desire to volunteer.

Some people have contested this initiative arguing that the Government should have given it the 19 as a Holiday. However, I am quite satisfied with the idea of all our heroes on recognized the National Heroes and Benefactors Day March 9 (formerly Baron Bliss Day). This is because public holidays cost our economy potential revenue.

Plus, I think the concept of a day of service would have been more in alignment with Price's personality and vision for the country.

-------------------------------------Sep 20 2012 ---------------------

As I was making my way to the Archives I noticed some posters which were hang on a fence likely as a part of the service day initiative.

There were many posters, some had quotes from G. P. others had some short phrases and poems. These were likely written by the primary school students near by. These are very interesting and will be historic documents in the future to understand how the children viewed Price. One of the poster asked the question "what did he do? - He saved us".



There is certainly a boost of nationalism and nostalgia when people talk of Price. While this is good, it reduces the role that other men and women played in the labor and nationalist movement which were part of the movement towards Independence. (Anyhow, that's for another discussion.)


             






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