Becoming who we are : informal learning and identity formation among the Garinagu of Western Belize
Lopez, Harold Anthony
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This ethnography explores the wholesome contexts of informal learning and identity formation among an ethnic minority group in Belize. The central research question of the study was: How is informal learning manifested among the Garinagu of Western Belize. Snowball sampling technique was used to recruit 20 participants aged between 36 and 82 years. The group's ways of learning were examined through the lens of Sociocultural learning theory. In the conduct of the maintenance of culture, learning is centered on their resiliency as examined through the various experiences that they acquired as a result of their movements, disruption and setbacks, the concept of Garifunaduau, the meet and greet process, and the roles of rituals and ancestry. The Garinagu display remarkable resiliency in their quest to maintain their cultural identity. Their resiliency is demonstrated through the ways in which they navigate their world that constantly changes through the many moves, disruptions and setbacks that they experience and share. Garifunaduau pays homage to the principles of caring, daring, sharing and family. Rituals and ancestry provides for connection and continuity.Connection with traditional Garifuna communities as maintained through regular or extended visits to traditional communities helped participants retain key cultural habits and artifacts including fluency in the Garifuna language, participation in the rituals, and regular preparation of traditional foods.Smaller family sizes and a shrinking of the extended family are threatening cultural practice. The rapidly increasing costs of rituals represent an existential threat to Garifuna practices. Structure within an established zone is required for minority cultures to fend off the dominance of larger cultures. Language learning at more advanced ages is more challenging than learning in early life. Understanding how they learn provides an avenue to reach them especially where there is a desire to address pressing social and health issues. Implications pertain to how minority groups in a shared area build relations and learn from each other.