Belize: Day 9 - The Journey Home


7 comments
While waiting in the International Airport a few hours before my flight arrived, I had the pleasure of talking to an older Creole woman who was escorting four young Belezian girls back to the states.  The girls revered her as they would their grandmother, although she was of no relation; merely a trusted friend of the family.  This woman classifies herself as Belezian, but still I noticed that although she never referred to herself specifically as being black, everything she discussed was in the context of being black.

This well-traveled woman has visited several countries in Africa, the UK, and of course the U.S.  As we discussed being able to connect with our ancestors, she made it clear that although in Belize, everyone is considered Belezian with no regards to which ethnic group you belong to, being Creole, she always knew she had a connection elsewhere, to Africa, and longed to travel there.  To her dismay, in all the countries she traveled to in Africa, she felt like an outcast, like she was not pure.  The problem, she said, was within our own people.  The Africans, she said, sold their own people into slavery.  It was not her fault that as a result she became of mixed blood.  Then when she traveled to the United States, she felt that same disconnect from African-American people.  Again, she was different.  No one reached out to help her.  She felt it was like every man for himself. 

She said that it was more painful to experience this negative attitude from people with her same descent that from anyone else.  From those experiences she learned that although she longed to feel a certain connection to her ancestral roots, she had learned to accept the fact that she is of African descent even if she is never accepted.  It is no longer important to her that she gains this external acceptance because in her heart she knows she belongs.  Her hope for me was that I was able to experience hospitality in her home country as she had wished to initially feel when she entered the United States.  Thankfully, I was able to inform her that I felt welcomed here in Belize.  I did not feel like an outsider, although clearly I was.  There was nothing but good feelings here.

On the flight home I had the chance to reflect upon what the woman in the airport discussed.  Why is it that my own people cannot always be more supportive of each other?  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that all of us have a desire to belong.  But it is quite shameful that as a people we do not always help others, regardless of race or ethnicity, to help satisfy that sense of belonging.  Now as I welcome a new group of children this school year, I must make conscious efforts to make sure to include everyone; to ensure that no child feels less than or that he or she cannot establish his or her place in the class, in the school, and in society.  We all matter.

Gaining Awareness,

7 comments:

  1. What an interesting woman you met! It is sad that so many places can be so unwelcoming in various ways, particularly where your roots come from. Having only lived in the U.S. I have always been baffled by prejudice and always will be.

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  2. Hey Libby,
    So wonderul to read the story how you met that woman! I love travelling because I always find stories during the travel that can be lessons to me.
    Thanks for sharing :)
    Delvalina

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  3. Interesting. She sounds like a thoughtful woman.

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  4. Your diary entries from Belize have been so illuminating! I've found that's a similar case over here in the UK - especially as many of the people of colour here are children of immigrants, so the lines can sometimes be drawn quite starkly along that of nationality! It differs from person to person though, so it's always a new experience with a new person.
    *sigh* Belize sounds like an earthy Eden....

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  5. I've been calmly reading your Belize diary posts and trying to enjoy them the same way you did. I also felt scared the first day, tired by the bike ride (I can't ride properly either after so many years!) and delighted by the friends you made and the food you ate. And doggies, of course. :-)

    You had a wonderful experience that I hope is the first of many more to come! And you know if you ever are asked to do an overseas program in Europe I'll be waiting for you. :-D

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  6. Wow Libby I read all your posts - Belize's history, culture and food mixed with your insights and thoughts about education and compassion are wonderful and breathtaking. Having grown up feeling "less than", your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher because you have already taken the conscious steps toward ensuring that their greatness buckets are being filled. Kudos to you! Wishing you a wonderful school year.

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  7. Wow Libby I read all your posts - Belize's history, culture and food mixed with your insights and thoughts about education and compassion are wonderful and breathtaking. Having grown up feeling "less than", your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher because you have already taken the conscious steps toward ensuring that their greatness buckets are being filled. Kudos to you! Wishing you a wonderful school year.

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