For ten years now the National Institute for Culture and History has been tasked with promoting and conserving Belize’s culture and natural heritages.  This morning, the institute commemorated its 10th anniversary with the launching of a workshop at the Banquitas House of Culture and our reporter Victor Castillo was on hand and filed the following report.

Screen_shot_2013-10-01_at_7.47.53_PMVictor Castillo – Reporting

As part of the 10th Anniversary of NICH, officials from the National Institute of Culture and History, UNESCO, Japan’s International Cooperative Agency, and from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, were all in attendance this morning for a very special ceremony commemorating the opening of a national workshop. 


The workshop is geared at a community based inventory process of Belize’s intangible cultural heritage and is being funded by the Government of Japan.  Himalchuli Gurung, Programme Specialist for Culture for UNESCO, shared the importance of the workshop.

Himalchuli Gurung - programme specialist for culture UNESCO

“The workshop that we are planning is actually an eight days community base inventory workshop for the intangible cultural heritage and this falls under the 2003 UNESCO convention for the safe guarding of the intangible cultural heritage and over this eight days we will be sharing and learning experiences on community base mapping and  inventorying of ICH as we call for intangible cultural heritage and this experience will be of course be taken into consideration when finalizing the national cultural policy is believe that the minister of tourism culture with the initiative of NICH is under preparation.  This is a very important initiative for UNESCO under the 2003 convention, one of the priority area that the member states, when I say member state I mean Belize included, member state of UNESCO requested was capacity building on implementing these conventions so when the implementation phase started we get some international assistance from the government of Japan and this is a pilot activity when I say pilot is it the first initiative through the sub regional project we are doing it for Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago and the results and outcome will be very important for us to plan further program, project in the Caribbean.”

According to Director of the Institute for Social and cultural Research Nigel Encalada, the workshop will be headed by two experts and some of the activities in this workshop are very important in garnering the information.

Nigel Encalada - Director of the Institute for Social and cultural Research

“We have two facilitators, one from Trinidad and one from South Africa, they are two UNESCO trained cultural experts and some of the things we will be looking at initially; we will be looking at what existed in Belize because it is a dynamic workshop, there will be exchange to identify what exist, the degree to which people are involved and then  subsequent to that the development of an action plan, which will say specifically this is what we will do it, there will sessions on the use of audio visual equipment, the use of video camera or an ordinary camera in order to interview, document, describe and all these sorts of things so, then there is even a field trip so we go out and we visit a community and we participate in an intangible cultural, for example we will be in Yo Creek and there we will be learning how to cook tamales, atole and all these kinds of corn base meals and the participants will get hands on experience so that is the sort of things we will be doing for the next eight days.  Last year we started off in Belize City, ICH involves the whole country so while we are having it here in Orange Walk in actuality the participants comes from all over the country and so it is a country wide initiative.”

Immediately after the workshop, all the necessary information should have been gathered and the data will be taken for an evaluation to Kingston, Jamaica, in 2014.

Himalchuli Gurung - programme specialist for culture UNESCO

“After this we planning to have evaluation and review meeting in Kingston in 2014.  World-wide every two years we come together and review on the impact of this capacity building project and we recently had one in fact, there was one two years ago in china and just coming back last week in Peru where we met for the Latin-America and the Caribbean countries, field officers in Latin-America and the Caribbean together with eleven facilitators from the region, Latin-America and the Caribbean falls under one region, and we had a very interesting and fruitful meeting where we discussed the achievements, outcomes, challenges, what needs to be done and one of the findings particularly for the Caribbean sub-region was the need to have more Caribbean facilitators in this because out of this eleven facilitators we have we only have one from the Caribbean and ten from Latin America which is Spanish speaking so only Chris Rampasard from the Caribbean, so what we are planning for the next stage, next two years would be to train more sub-regional facilitators from the Caribbean countries.”

The workshop commenced this morning and is set to conclude on the 9th of October. Approximately 30 participants will take part in this workshop.  During the ceremonies the invited guests were entertained with cultural presentations.

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