Kenrick- A Conversation with Kenrick Mark Coleman Features Belizario Carballo
The Kenrick Mark Coleman Foundation
Kenrick- A Conversation with Kenrick Mark Coleman Features Belizario Carballo
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello! My name is Belizario Gian Carballo and I am a very passionate, dedicated, responsible and determined young environmental professional. I am currently seeking new and exciting opportunities to expand my experiences in the field of conservation and environmental education in Belize. As long as I can remember I have had an innate desire to protect, conserve and educate others willing to listen about the problems plaguing the natural world around us.
My passion has taken me to very unique places primarily in Canada, during the completion of my Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Resource Management at Grenfell Campus Memorial University of Newfoundland, and most recently in the completion of a Master’s degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from the School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. My interdisciplinary studies has allowed me to amass a strong set of skills both soft and technical that have prepared me to address real world environmental issues both locally and globally.
I chose to return home in Belize to further advance my environmental/conservation career and positively contribute towards the sustainable management and development of Belize’s natural resources.
I am also an environmental artist during my spare time. Nature has always inspired me to pursue creativity outlets through my hobbies. I enjoy painting with acrylic paints and most recently creating digital illustrations that are inspired heavily on wildlife and beautiful landscapes found in the natural world. When I was in high school, I utilized my artistic talents combined with my passion for environment and sustainability by participating in various art completions across the country. Recently, I have started to use my artworks to raise awareness on the importance of environmental protection and sustainable actions on my social media accounts. I hope to continue to raise awareness throughout my future career, on my social media and within my free time volunteering with non-governmental organizations and local community groups.
Through these ventures I hope to inspire as many of my friends, youths and other community members to be great stewards of the environment by encouraging them to utilize sustainable practices to reduce their ecological footprints and gain a greater understanding for the need to preserve biodiversity and the natural world.
2. You recently completed your Master’s Degree in North America. What do you believe is important in this your role?
Yes, I am a proud graduate with a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Environmental Management from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS). The MSEM master’s program was an intensive one year professional program which allowed me to advance my professional knowledge and experience in the field of environment and sustainability. The program allowed me the opportunity to obtain new skills necessary in navigating this competitive field. Many communities are currently facing the devastating impacts of human induced climate change. For this fact, we need more like minded individuals to devote their time to conduct scientific research, devise policies and devote their time to educate others on how to minimize harmful actions on the environment. I have learnt so much from this program, not just how to address real world environmental problems such as climate change but also how to collaborate with others to effectively conduct research and instill leadership qualities among others to promote a sustainable future.
My thesis/project conducted in my studies was focused on the development of a Biocultural field guide for Wanuskewin Heritage Park (WHP). WHP is a well-respected Indigenous non-for profit organization in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. This project allowed me to work directly with WHP, my partner organization to provide the necessary information that would be crucial for the development of the field guide. I used both natural and social science methodologies to ensure that I captured the complete story of the park’s history, culture and natural landscape.
Ultimately, I believe that what I studied in this program will remain immensely important in devising appropriate solutions for the wicked environmental problems we face today. However, these wicked problems can’t be solved with scientific knowledge alone and require other disciplines such as business, economics, physiology and sociology to influence human behaviour and combat these issues more holistically. We must find new more transformative ways to tackle these complex issues if we are to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
3. Tell us more about your academic life at this University? How did you receive the scholarship? Why did you choose this particular University? When did you commence studies? What subject areas are focused on? What’s your relationship like with fellow students?
My experience at the University of Saskatchewan was one of great memories and immense opportunities. I was elected to represent the School of Environment and Sustainability Student Association (SENSSA) as a Climate change council member. This leadership position within my school’s student body granted me a unique opportunity to work effectively with an amazing team of members to organize sustainability events/initiatives that encouraged the promotion of sustainable practices and to address global environmental issues with our student body. We did so much to ensure our student body was well represented during the 2018–2019 academic year. We frequently organized various networking events, informative alumni panel seminars, food fair fundraising events, climate change documentary nights, organic community gardening, and reuse initiatives.
When I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2015, I decided to take a break from school and expand my experience by pursuing other interests. During this time, I worked with children and youths as a Child and Youth Care Giver at Blue Sky, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.
However, while I immensely enjoyed molding the mind of young kids and youths during my time as a care giver, I wanted to return to advance my knowledge in environment and sustainability. This was what originally led me to learn more about the University of Saskatchewan. I was enthusiastically prepared to pursue my master’s degree after much research of the university, province and master’s program. However, the program was not supported by a scholarship but was self-funded based on the one year duration of the program. I graduated from the MSEM program on November 13th, 2019.
4. Describe your transformation process from Belize to Canada?
My transition from Belize to Canada is a story of adaptability and personal growth. Up to that point, I had never truly been away from my home and my family. I had to almost immediately learn to fend for myself in what seemed like another world with ice, rocks and plenty of snow. To provide some more context, I was moving to a small city called Corner Brook in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I was 19 years old when I began my journey and had just recently completed my associate’s degree in Environmental Science at Saint John’s Junior College, Belize City.
I would never forget the moment I first landed at the airport in my new home and approached my university early in the morning. All I could see from the taxi window was white. The ground was covered with snow and ice as it marked the beginning of the winter season in Canada. There was so much snow that it towered over the hilltops and parking lots next to the university buildings. It was that moment that I realized how different this place is and how far away from Belize I truly was. Nevertheless, I was excited to begin this new and exciting chapter in my life. The coming weeks of my journey were extremely challenging not just having to adjust to a new and colder environment but overcoming my culture shock.
However, I was never alone and thankfully I had an exceptional and friendly international support group comprised of faculty and students. Many of whom were from Belize and so we could share our feelings and experiences in overcoming our challenges as we shared some hot coffee and snacks during our various international student events held on campus. I had always prided myself in being a very open and friendly individual who could easily get along with others no matter their background or culture. This became more evident during the first year of being in Canada. I became close friendly with many students from all parts of the world including those from nearby communities.
5. What are the challenges you faced as a student at the university? Opportunities?
During my time at the University, I had to learn to effectively maximize my time with my studies, extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, networking events, and time with my friends. As a university student, the door to opportunities presented itself at almost every corner. There was so much available opportunities to advance my academic knowledge, professional competency and personal growth. However, these opportunities presented the challenge of time and relevance. I knew that within this academic year I had to maximize my time and seek out opportunities that would grant me a competitive edge suited for the field of environmental sustainability and conservation.
6. Why is your major important to Belize’s National Progressive and Sustainable Development?
Belize and the world at large is facing the greatest threat to the environment through global climate change. This is set to impact all aspects of our economy, society and environment. My major has trained me to understand, monitor and approach such a complex issue and determine the most appropriate sustainable solutions. Given the severity and urgency of most global issues shows that we need more passionate individuals to care about the natural world and seek to ensure its preservation for the benefit of future generations. Nature gives us everything necessary to sustain our lives from the water we drink, the air we breathe to the food we eat. Nature also provides many other services or what is known as ecological services such as the regulation of air.
I strongly believe that through knowledge of the consequences of our actions, we are able to better understand how best to conserve the Earth’s beautiful and beneficial biodiversity. The emergence of these problems one way or another stems from human induced activities over time. Our un-sustainable actions have led to the deterioration of our natural life-support system.
We must understand that the creatures and systems on Earth are all interconnected in the web of life and we must come to appreciate nature as a whole. It is due time that we re-imagine our relationships with the natural world and put nature at the center of societies decision –making process. There must be a balance with nature and communities if our country is to ensure its sustainable development in the future.
7. What are three things you learnt as an International Student? What can our country expect from Belizario Carballo in the next five years?
1. As an International Student, I learnt to truly value the beauty my country has to offer the world. I found myself eager to share with those that had never heard about Belize before and share with them interesting facts about our wildlife, tourist destinations, foods and our many cultures. Being the only Belizean from my master’s program granted me much pride in sharing more about my beautiful country with my fellow colleagues.
2. I also learnt how untied International students could be when sharing in our common struggles to cope with the changing climate and culture shock that comes from living and studying in a different country. I have remained friends with many of the international students I met in my first semesters from my bachelor’s and Master’s degree.
3. The last thing I learnt as an International Student came after completing my studies and when returning home. Being an international student changed my perspective and allowed me to be more open minded when it came to others culture, religion, epistemology and struggle. This realisation allowed me to collaborate effectively with different groups of individuals no matter their weaknesses, strengths and/or common interests.
In the next five years, I hope to have gained more valuable field experience working to advance conservation efforts with respected NGOs or environmental departments. Experiences that would allow me to make a lasting impact in the survival of critically endangered species and ensure the preservation of their habitats. I will also continue to pursue my hunger for knowledge through training, workshops and perhaps seek higher education in the form of a Ph.D.
8. In one of my recent articles, I stated: ‘It is important to realize that majority of Belize’s younger populations continue to be very mediocre as it relates to becoming holistically educated and cultured, personally and professionally.’ What’s your perspective on this?
I believe this issue of mediocracy continues to affect the youths in our educational system. It is a system in which we entrust to educate these youths so to enhance their lives and the lives of their communities. It is a system that continues to fail in extending their views to look beyond their individual needs and look to assist others. It is important to be selfless at times and ensure our wealth is shared. We must also be reminded especially when it comes to caring for the environment that our actions affects those around us. We are one in a much larger system and it is about time that we all begin to adapt this holistic view within our educational institutions and personal mindsets.
In doing so, I believe that the development of Belize would benefit greatly from such a change and allow its youths to ensure their place as responsible forward thinking citizens and future stewards of nature.
9. What is your personal definition of intelligence and discipline? What is your perspective on discrimination (Across the board)?
I believe that it is our responsibility to be disciplined and a privilege to be intelligent. After all we call ourselves intelligent species because of our innate capacity for intellectual greatness which differs from every other species that inhabit this planet. However, time and time again we continue to show how divided we are based on the color of our skins, religious beliefs and sexual orientations.
This form of discrimination continues to stunt our growth as a species and hinders our capacity for intelligence and to acquire discipline. We must always be reminded that being intelligent does not guarantee our discipline and understanding for complex issues. If we are to begin to understand these issues that divide us as a society we must devote ourselves to our studies and welcome the opportunity for constructive learning no matter how old we are.
10. What three words do you have to say to young Belizeans?
I would like to say to all young Belizeans to PERSEVERE and never give up on your dreams, remain FOCUSED to achieve your goals and ultimately remain PASSIONATE for what makes you happy in life.