Myrna Manzanares

Cultural and Community Activist, Traditional Storyteller, Oral Historian, Poet, Published writer

“To become a person of worth, you must know who you are; culture is part of who you are”

Myrna Manzanares is a cultural ambassador who is well known among the cultural communities. Throughout the years she has been playing an important role in safeguarding and promotion of culture, and by extension all cultures of Belize, as well inter- ethnic harmony of our Belizean people.

Myrna Manzanares was born on October 30 1946 in Gales Point Manatee, a peninsula at the southernmost village in the Belize District. She completed her primary schooling at St. John’s Anglican Primary School in Belize City and continued her education in California where she later obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Education and Spanish from Pepperdine University. She also studied English as second language in the University of Southern California. She completed post graduate studies in Community Clinical Psychology at California State University in Long Beach. In 1986, she returned to Belize after having lived abroad for almost 25 years. She immediately became involved in civil society organizations including PRIDE Belize and would later work at Peace Corps Belize and Belize Teachers College.

National Kriol Council:

She was one of the individuals who started the National Kriol Council (NKC) in Belize. She was the third president of the council  and  presently the  Cultural Attache.

Community Involvement:

Myrna Manzanares is on the Executive Board for the Belize History Association, and the Belize National Library Service Board. She is a trained Community Counselor, and an ardent activist for human rights, sexual and reproductive health rights, women, youth, community and education. She is an oral history consultant, as well as in other areas, with the Institute of Social and Cultural Research. She has, and in many cases continues, to serve on several civil society boards including the Belizean Studies Journal, Mental Health Association, and the Belize Brain Awareness Association.

Publications:

She is a member of the Editorial Board of Belizean studies journal and one of the editors of the Kriol Language materials, including the Kriol/Inglish Dikshinari, and the yearly Kriol Kalinda published by the Kriol Langwig Projek, as well as the translation of the New Testament in Kriol. Her publications to date include Tell Me a Story (folklore); Life Lines (poetry); Traditional Games of BelizeFaith-Based Response to HIV and AIDS; and  the Healing Circle which is an inter-generational publication with Azizi Hoy a 17 year old at the time. Her stories have also been included in Memories, Dreams, and Nightmares and Tek Mi No Tek Mi – a book on Caribbean Folktales.

Awards:

  • In June of 2008 Myrna received the British Empire Medal from the Queen of England for her work in Culture, Education, and Social Development.
  • In 2010, the Meritorious Service Award from the Belize Government
  • In 2013, the Women of Culture Award

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