Savannah Kelly ’21 is conducting a Levitt Center research project on the effects of the Guatemala-Belize border dispute on Belize’s indigenous communities. She has already conducted numerous interviews and plans to travel to Belize at the end of the summer to conclude the interview portion of her research.
What is your research project?
I am conducting research on the socio-political impact of the border dispute between Guatemala and Belize on Belize’'s indigenous communities. Guatemala is claiming upwards of 50% of Belize’s territory, much of which is home to the Mayas, Garifuna, and more.
What do you hope to accomplish through this project?
My goal is to further shed light on the importance of multicultural reforms and ethnic politics in countries like Belize that have indigenous communities. I seek to empower such communities by highlighting their struggles and successes in my project as it relates to the ongoing border dispute with Guatemala.
Major: World Politics
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
High School: Hialeah-Miami Lakes Sr. High School
What are your responsibilities?
I will conduct interviews with indigenous populations native to Belize, and local and national government officials after the completion of preliminary research on the subject matter.
Where are you working and why?
I decided to return home to Miami for the summer to complete my research project. I have access to several local colleges' and universities' resources and close proximity to several key embassies here. I will be traveling to Belize at the conclusion of the summer to complete the interview portion of my research project.
What do you find most rewarding?
I have found that being able to reach out directly to some indigenous communities and actually receiving a response, though I am only an undergraduate student, extremely humbling and rewarding.
How did you become interested in this field?
Well, my concentration’s regional focus is Latin America and the Caribbean. Being from Miami, I was raised and schooled in primarily black and brown communities and so, I wanted to somehow give back to those communities in whatever way I could. Last spring, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C., as part of St. Lawrence University's Model Organization of the American States. This incredible experience allowed me to meet and engage directly with ambassadors to Belize and Nicaragua, which prompted my initial interest in Belize. The next fall, I enrolled in Professor (Heather) Sullivan’s Politics of Latin America course and I spent the better part of the semester focusing my assignments on Belize, and I found my academic niche.
What are your plans for the future?
Once I return to campus, I hope to utilize my research in Belize and my study abroad experiences to focus my senior thesis on the intersection of identity politics and the reverberations of how they factor into the legislative decisions some Latin American countries enact in the hemisphere.