Our Community - Julia Martinez - "Ethnic and Educational Enlightenment in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 35            September 6, 2001

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Julia Martinez

Education enlightens the mind but culture lives in the heart and soul of every Belizean. This week the San Pedro Sun presents a person that has devoted a great deal of her life to the promotion of both - Mrs. Julia Martinez.

    On June 23rd, 1968 Julia was born in the picturesque coastal town of Punta Gorda in the Toledo District. Her parents Marcelina and Estevan Nuñez, were fine examples to their ten children, seven daughters and three sons, and this was soon reflected in Julia. She excelled at St. Peter's Claver Elementary and then at Toledo Community College, graduating in 1986. Having completed her secondary education, Julia was convinced she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a businesswoman. Nevertheless, her plans took a different course as she first accepted a teaching job and found she enjoyed this occupation immensely. Ms. Julia, as she is referred to now, discovered this profession gave her much satisfaction and she decided to stay with this field. She devoted the first four years of her teaching career to the Maya and Ketchi Indians of San Jose Village and San Pedro Colombia, two remote areas in the Toledo District. This particular part of her life filled her with a great sense of accomplishment and a feeling she had made a difference in the lives of these people. Teacher Julia then moved to Belize City where she taught at St. Martin's Elementary School for the next two years.

    Amidst all these events, Ms. Julia joined her life in marriage to Franklin Martinez of Punta Gorda on December 29th, 1990. Together they have established their home in San Pedro and have a lovely daughter Tisane, now six years old.

   In 1992, Ms. Julia accepted a teaching position in San Pedro. She immediately fell in love with the island, the school and the students, and decided to make San Pedro her home. It has now been nine years that Ms. Julia has given unselfishly of herself to the students of San Pedro Roman Catholic School. To improve her teaching techniques, Teacher Julia has enrolled in a number of summer courses and computer classes in Belize City, as well as volunteer training, in subjects dealing with children. Ms. Julia sits on the Board of Directors of San Pedro Roman Catholic School as a staff member. Teacher Julia has gained a lot of popularity with the students and parents because of her caring and pleasant personality. She has developed very creative classes, capturing the student's interest in her various subjects.   

    Ms. Julia has also made a lasting impression in San Pedro by enlightening the locals with her rich Garifuna culture. Through her participation, and currently in her capacity as treasurer, Mrs. Martinez has helped strengthen the San Pedro Garifuna Council. In an effort to make the Garifuna culture more visible on the island, she introduced the Miss San Pedro Garifuna Pageant and established Garifuna dance presentations at the various resorts. As a dancer, advisor and leader of the dance group, Ms. Julia and her ten-member team have not only raised awareness in San Pedro about their culture but also delighted many visitors with their native dances. As the head of the Garifuna queen's committee in San Pedro, Ms. Julia has brought to the island's stage a cultural pageant that has been embraced by the entire community. No stranger to this type of event, Ms. Julia held the title of Miss Garifuna Punta Gorda Primary School in 1981, Miss Garifuna Punta Gorda in 1986 and Miss Garifuna Belize in 1987.

    Established on the island, Ms. Julia and her husband went searching for additional financial income. Acquiring a lot next to the Martinez's home, they were able to open their own business - Black and White Reggae Bar. This now very popular establishment, opened on July 27th, 1999, continues to promote the Garifuna culture through shows featuring drumming and dance presentations, and by serving traditional Garifuna dishes.

    During her limited amount of spare time, Ms. Julia enjoys gardening because it helps her to relax. "The beauty of nature is very soothing and helps one forget any troubles they may have," stated Mrs. Martinez.

    A trusted person in San Pedro, Ms. Julia is honored to be sought out by many for advice. Having moved from the southern tip to the northern part of Belize, Julia Martinez has found everything she has hoped for; a family, a satisfying occupation and the perfect venue to promote her culture. Transplanted in San Pedro, Julia Martinez blossoms as a highly respected advocate of education and culture in "Our Community."

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