Dino Gutierrez, Personality of the Month Award, Presentation Re-feature
THE KENRICK MARK COLEMAN FOUNDATION
"Intelligence, Discipline, Wisdom, Excellence"
PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH AWARD
“Recognition for exemplifying the qualities of a Hardworking, Talented, Intelligent, and Deserving Young Belizean”
Dino Emilio Gutierrez
Personality of the Month Award Recipient
And now, The Official Interview with Kenrick Mark Coleman!
1. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What was your family like? What three words best describe you? Why?
I was born to Francisco Javier Gutierrez and Ruth Galvez de Gutierrez. At the time, they owned a pharmacy in downtown San Ignacio; it occupied the ground floor of our family home, which was located on West Street and had belonged to the family for four generations. I also have an older sister, Xaviera Gutierrez. Both my parents are well-known members of the community. During my childhood, my father often engaged in community activities while my mother was a member of the local Rotary Club. They made sure that my sister and I grew up exposed, introducing us to literature and taking us on trips whenever they could, among other things. When they separated in 2009, neither my sister nor I had foreseen the challenges ahead of us, but we gradually adjusted. What matters is that the four of us continue to be instrumental in each other’s lives.
I’d like to describe myself as open-minded, kind, and outgoing. Instead of imposing my beliefs on others, I let them feel comfortable in their own skin, but I do articulate my convictions if I find that it’s necessary. Whether we agree or not, I try to foster a friendship. Furthermore, I believe that, while we should take pride in our accomplishments, we are not excused from being decent human beings. After all, what is the point in working so hard to acquire an education or wealth if we cannot seem to understand that we have been dealt a good hand in life? With this in mind, I seek to make myself versatile by visiting new places and meeting new people.
2. What are your future aspirations?
For now, I want to focus solely on passing the Korean Language Proficiency exam with a Level 3 so that I’ll be able to advance to my Master’s Degree Program in International Relations. While I’m there, I’ll explore career opportunities throughout the world. To experience the work culture in a foreign country, especially one which is developed, is a privilege in itself. There are so many paths which I’ll be able to take afterward that it will be best for me to give myself time to see where my talents lie. I have considered law school, a PhD in Conflict Resolution, another Master’s Degree in Public Policy, and even a career in a film industry. I’ll eventually narrow down my options. Now and again, I’m asked if I have political aspirations. I have never given it much thought, but I might consider it someday.
3. What do you think is one of the major challenges affecting teenagers in Belize today? What is the cause of this challenge and how would you go about correcting the situation?
Before I continue, I want to point out that I’m neither an anthropologist nor a sociologist. Therefore, my diagnosis of any social epidemic may be flawed. I have noticed that in recent years, however, social media has become extremely popular among teenagers here in Belize. While social media can be used as a medium to communicate with your friends near and far, share important news and so forth, it can be detrimental. This detriment is prominent in the widespread attitude that teenagers have towards material things. It almost seems as though social media is nurturing a superficial generation. Rather than accomplishments and ideas, I often come across pictures of them sporting a new cellphone or a new article of clothing; if not, they’re in a fancy vehicle. This kind of consumerism has been conspicuous since the inception of capitalism in the late 15th Century, but now that information is so readily available, other things ought to be given priority. Teenagers need to be reminded of the fact that the world has gotten more connected and, therefore, if they play their cards rights, it can be their playground.
4. Which holiday of the year do you enjoy most? Describe it.
That would have to be Christmas. Not only do I get to spend time with the people I love, but I also feast like a king. Since 2016, we’ve been going to my godparents’ house. By the time we arrive, my godmother already has everything ready. She’s an excellent cook. After dinner, we sit in the living room and watch movies.
5. What is your most memorable experience and why?
In 2017, I spent three months in the United States of America. I spent two months and a half in Los Angeles and two weeks in Washington D.C. I take pride in the fact that I took full advantage of those trips. As soon as I had topped up my metro-card to travel by bus or train, I embarked on a number of adventures. I came back to Belize knowing both cities like the back of my hand. Given my interest in history and politics, I ensured that I visited all the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. I also went on a tour of the United States Capitol Building.
6. You recently graduated from the University of Belize with your Bachelor's Degree. Share with us a story of your life at university leading up to the big moment. What's your secret to succeed?
I enrolled at the University of Belize in August 2011. I was a History Major. After having emerged from somewhat of a downward spiral, I made significant strides of progress. I even managed to remain on the honor roll for four consecutive semesters. I fostered a global perspective by reading as much as possible and drawing inspiration from the actions of people whose legacies have transformed the world.
In my third year, I was the founding member of the Student Protocol Society, which was sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy of Belize. The group was tasked with assisting in the organization of university, embassy, and public events.
7. In your bio, you mentioned that you served as an Intern at the National Institute of Culture and History. What were the experiences like? Do you plan to establish a charity focusing on research/education awareness of the History of Belize?
When I was still a student, I was offered the opportunity to be involved in the initial stages of the establishment of the Philip Goldson House of Democracy. After I graduated, I was offered another opportunity to work as a research assistant to Rolando Cocom, Senior Research Officer. I was also mentored by another Research Officer, Mr. Giovanni Pinelo. My tasks required that I gather and analyze primary and secondary sources from the National Heritage Library, the Institute of Social and Cultural Research, and the National Archives of Belize. In addition to reinforcing my skills in research, I learned how to network. To be frank, I do not intend to establish a charity of that nature, as there is already the Belize History Association. I most certainly hope to be an active member in the future.
8. You received First Place for the Belize Literary Prize 2016-2017. Tell us more about this prestigious recognition?.
The Belize Literary Prize is the brainchild of the Belize Book Industry Association. Its objective is to provide a platform for Belizean writers to showcase their talent; the winning entries are published by Cubola Productions. I was honored to have been the first place winner in the flash fiction category. The name of my entry is ‘We da Belizean’. It's overriding theme is national identity. It also touches on cultural assimilation, xenophobia, and class conflict. I wrote it with the intention to address a few of the social and cultural issues prevalent in Belize.
9. Do you have a passion for creative and authentic writing? Do you enjoy reading and researching?
Indeed, I do have a passion for both creative and technical writing. The former allows me to explore my imagination. Before I even realize it, I’ve created characters, narratives, and settings. The latter, on the other hand, allows me to tap into my technical side. I’m often faced with literature that is so complex that I have to search for the definitions of key concepts in order to understand the text in its entirety. I generally prefer literature that deals with society, culture, history and politics.
10. You were also a Tutor at the Writing Center at the University of Belize. What impact did your service have on the student community?
Of the constant trickle of students who entered the writing center to seek help, I tutored a few. Whenever they needed help, I was the one they sought out because I had established a rapport with them. The purpose of the UB Writing Center is not to spoon-feed any student. On the contrary, the tutors get the students to think. I noticed that when they grew comfortable, they did not hesitate to open up. Apart from the technical help I offered them, I gave them confidence. I assured them that their writing would improve with practice.
11. You are now preparing to commence postgraduate studies in Korea. Tell us more about the new Endeavour (scholarship process, school, major, expectations, ongoing preparation, Belize Alumni support, et al)?
The Government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) offers 780 scholarships annually to international students. The objective of the Korea Government scholarship program is to promote international exchanges in education and mutual friendship between countries. There are two tracks through which applicants must apply: the embassy track and the university track. Three hundred of the scholarships are allocated for students whose respective countries do not host an official South Korean embassy; and of out of that number, one is given to a Belizean. I had to apply directly to a university. I chose Sogang University, in the capital city Seoul, because it is ranked as one of the leading universities in South Korea and also because it is a Jesuit university. I had to get accepted there first. Afterward, my application was submitted to the National Institute of International Education Development for a board to examine my application once more and determine whether or not I should get the scholarship. The list of the successful candidates was uploaded on May 1st, 2018. Then I was required to undergo numerous medical tests and email the results to NIIED. The final list, which included the successful candidates who applied through the embassy track, was uploaded on June 19th, 2018. Although my program will be instructed in English, I will be required to take a year of Korean Language courses at another university where I have been placed. The name of that university is Chosun University, in Gwangju City. I will relocate to Sogang University in 2019, where I’ll be pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Relations.
I have sought the advice of Kieran Ryan and Sherley Chen, who are former KGSP scholars. I expect that I’ll become exposed to highly sophisticated society, as South Korea boasts the eleventh largest economy in the world, a cultural and technological revolution, and one of the world’s most advanced education systems. Now that tensions between North Korea and South Korea have abated, perhaps I’ll even be able to go beyond the 38th Parallel.
12. Do you believe the education system in Belize needs to restructured? Is there a need for the proper fusion of a "Cultures & History of Belize" section in the curriculum?
In my opinion, the education system does need a lot of improvement, but my lack of expertise in this field hinders me from formulating efficient and effective ways to tackle this issue. As a product of the public school system, I can attest that a dedicated student will yield as much knowledge as is required for his or her success; the school itself does not ascertain that. It is important for us to recognize the talents in all students so that they have the confidence to strive for more. I would like to see more social workers involved in the education system to address the countless struggles that many students face. If such a program is underway, I shall applaud the efforts of its pioneers. With regard to the implementation of a “Cultures & History of Belize” section in the curriculum, I am proud to say that a “Belizean Studies” program has been designed and introduced by Yasser Musa and his team at St. John’s College.
13. If you were given the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. John Briceno, what three important issues would you discuss?
Although there are many issues worthy of discussion with these influential men, I would emphasize the hopelessness and, sometimes, desperation experienced by the ordinary Belizean family. Parents often struggle to put their children through school, but then their children enter a meager job market after graduation. I would ask them if they realize how privileged their own children are, considering that they can either work for them or move to another country with an abundance of opportunities. Then I’d ask if that makes it difficult for them to empathize with ordinary Belizeans, because that’s how it seems. If the country were to hit rock bottom, would their families stay here to suffer with the rest of us? Are we really just here to serve one purpose, which is to get them elected so that they can keep reaping the benefits? If they answered no to all these questions, I’d tell them that it’s difficult to believe them.
I cannot blame them for everything that has gone wrong in my life or in the lives of others, but that is beyond the point. When we elect them, we entrust power to them – power which we thought they deserved, power which we expected they would use for the greater good. In other words, it is their responsibility to see that both the social and economic infrastructure exists to enable us to prosper. They should not attribute poverty to laziness, as it is lazy to explain poverty with such rhetoric. In fact, what keeps countries poor is corruption. I would ask them if any of these principles of democracy still mean anything to them.
14. Life can be challenging. How do you get rid of stress and what's your advice to others on this?
The easiest way for me to get rid of stress is to recreate. I enjoy reading but I put down my book whenever I’m invited to go somewhere with friends or family. I have discovered the importance of maintaining strong bonds. I seek to foster relationships with people who have proven to hold my best interests at heart. Other times, particularly when I’m traveling, I take a bus or a train to a popular landmark or museum.
15. Which Belizean Hero do you embrace? Why?
His name may be getting old to some people, but I have to use this opportunity to articulate my general views on the Father of The Nation, the Rt. Honorable George Cadle Price. Regardless of the criticism I’ve heard about him, it is undeniable that he was a man of principle. Having been a pupil of the Jesuit Tradition, he upheld the principles of social justice in his professional life. His critics and rivals held it against him that he ensured his family members got scholarships to pursue higher education. When compared with subsequent cases since his leadership, I would absolve him of this alleged abuse of power. I’ve also heard that he was racist against people of African descent and that he conspired with Guatemala against Belizean interests. There has been no evidence to support these claims. There has only been mere speculation and political propaganda. I believe that he was an astute politician who understood Belize’s position in the world during a time of great political conflict; he had long-term goals based on an ideology that did not always make him popular.
16. 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.' In the latter part of the article I also stated: 'The primary culture of reluctance refers to a themed, laid-back mentality, wherein our population, or at least, majority of the population, have a meddlesome, unaware, and mediocre approach to self development and self fulfillment.' What's your perspective on these two statements?
Both statements are harsh, but accurate. I always wonder how I can get people to care about certain issues. It would be interesting to a read a study conducted by a team of social psychologists on the Belizean psyche. Perhaps many of the prevalent issues today are manifestations of the legacy of colonialism. Belizeans tend to dismiss the impact that its legacy has had on our national identity. We progress at a much slower pace because we are still figuring out who we are as a people.
Date of Birth: 27th July, 1994
Place of Birth: Belize City, Belize (at the old hospital)
Parents: Francisco “Javier” Gutierrez, Ruth Galvez de Gutierrez
Sister: Xaviera Gutierrez
School: University of Belize, Class of 2017; Sogang University, Class 2021
With the Powers Vested Into Us:
I, Kenrick Mark Coleman, Founder & Chairman of The Kenrick Mark Coleman Foundation proclaim Dino Emilio Gutierrez as the August 2018 Personality of the Month Award Recipient. Dino is entitled to an Official Interview, an Authentication Award and all privileges that complement the Personality of the Month Award Program. Dino now joins twenty-nine other hardworking, talented, intelligent and deserving Belizeans in our Official Order of Distinction.
Photo Credits: Dino Emilio Gutierrez
Personality of the Month Award Recipients:
Laurita Williams (June, 2008) Toledo
Abel Coleman (July, 2008) Toledo
Gareth Jacobs (November, 2008) Toledo
Floridalma Fajardo (February, 2009) Toledo
Felicita Arzu (July, 2009) Orange Walk
Samson Jacobs (January, 2010) Belize City
Clive Myers (May, 2010) Belize City
Ashanti Garcia (July, 2010) San Ignacio
Leilah Pandy (August, 2010) Belize City
Myra Fajardo (October, 2010) Toledo
Dorien Villafranco (September, 2011) Belmopan
Annlyn Apolonio (August, 2012) Belize City
Micah Goodin (January, 2013) Belize City
Andre Alamina (November, 2013) Belize City
Juana Meza (March, 2014) Stann Creek
Justyn Craig (June, 2015) Belize City
Harsheel Makhijani (September, 2015)Orange Walk
Zeida Montero (October, 2015) Stann Creek
Jasmine Myvette (December, 2015) Sand Hill
Francis Sutherland (February, 2016) Corozal
Cindy Espinal (March, 2016) Stann Creek
Robin Gray (April, 2016) Stann Creek
Juan Bol (May, 2016) Toledo
Andrew Vasquez (June, 2016) Belize City
Kevin Trejo (November, 2016) Orange Walk
Dovini Chell (December, 2016) Orange Walk
Nissa Waldman (January, 2017) Corozal
Bryton Codd (March, 2018) Belize City
Daniel Hung (June, 2018) Belmopan
Dino Emilio Gutierrez (August, 2018) San Ignacio, Cayo