Belize Coordination Centre
International Institute of Culture and Language
San Ignacio, Cayo
Belize, Central America
In 1988, Dr. Elsa Potter, a West Texas schoolteacher had begun to ask herself, 'What can I do to make the world a better-off place?'
Responding to the signs of the times as she saw them at: Tienneman Square, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and the embrace of Arafat and Rabin, Dr. Potter threw aside her cynicism about the possibility of worldpeace becoming a reality. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer by 1978-80, it was only natural that she felt a drive and a call to live out the sisterhood she found with the entire human race!!!
Already dedicated to the formation of Hispanic youth, Elsa knew that there was still much more to do on the journey ahead. Ms. Potter reflected and analyzed her merits to determine how her previous achievements could impact her desire to fulfill the mission. Acting on these insights, Elsa Potter soon realized that even though she possessed two Master's degrees, a doctorate would enhance and equip her with the essentials to facilitate her endeavors. Subsequently resulting in her move from El Paso to Kingsville and in 1998 was granted the degree, Doctor of Education in the Bilingual field. Thereafter, her study and internships of Institutional Education certified her as an Education Manager, both on the School and the District level.
The International Institute of Culture and Language became a juridical reality as a Texas nonprofit on December 7, 1994, while Potter was still a student at Kingsville's Texas A&M University (TAMU-K). Always international in scope, she was accompanied by two US citizens and by four Costa Ricans as well.
Consequently, on the auspicious day of its incorporation, IICL flew four flags:United States of America Texas Costa Rica Belize
Although no Belizean was seriously interested at the time in taking part, Potter included the flag from the Belizean Consul in Houston and had-it present at the proceedings as an earnest of future involvement by Belizeans. She knew that the words of then Solicitor General Hon. Gian Gandhi would mightily encourage the right Belizeans, as it did for her: 'This will be good for Belize.'
On November 29, 2003, the Belize Companies Registry handed Dr. Potter the document representing recognition of its name and purpose. This was in consequence of IICL having sought and received permission to eliminate Ltd. from its title and to be excused from selling shares. Renewal one calendar year later was sponsored by a Belizean businesswoman, Ms. Delmy Ramirez from Kon-Tiki Extension. Subsequent yearly renewals have been sponsored by Belizeans. In 2009, the Institute completed all requirements and was certified by the Department of Human Development as a duly-registered Belizean NGO.
Belizean Membership and Leadership
Successive Belize Country Directors, imitating the structure of the Peace Corps, served four-year terms: Hon. Martin Galvez, 1993-97; Mr. Luis Garcia, 1998-2002; Hon. Rolando Villas, 2002-06; Mr. Timoteo Romero, 2006-2010. Teacher Elma Arzu is now president-elect. Besides the Directors' Panel, IICL Belize now counts Volunteers, Most Valuable Players, Trustees and Directors. Dr. Elsa Potter is Founding Coordinator of IICL.
Where is the Institute?
The Institute is found wherever there is a heart open to the possibility of worldpeace and a will to make it happen through the individual, family, neighborhood, community, district, county and world levels.
Periodic meetings are held by interested parties. Dr. Potter has mostly employed the Saul Alinsky method of going where the people are and meeting with them, usually one on one.
Consequently, IICL meets in shops, restaurants, the marketplace, churches, in vehicles of transportation, anywhere there are people.
Especially focusing on those who will listen, sincerely dialogue and meet the challenge of what one person can do. International as well as domestic mail is sent-to and from General Delivery in San Ignacio Town. A semblance of an office is provided by the word processor that Dr. Potter operates from her rented apartment in Belmopan.
Wise words by wise people throughout history:
"Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments must get-out of their way and let them have it."
- Dwight Eisenhower
"We can ensure the survival of ourselves and or children by replacing the law of force with the force of law. We must create international institutions that allow us to settle international disputes legally instead of lethally."
- Benjamin Ferencz and Ken Keyes, Jr.
"Mankind's desire for peace can be realised only by the creation of a world government. We appeal as human beings to human beings. Remember your humanity and forget the rest."
- Albert Einstein
"Always remember that feelings of anger and hatred and separateness are our only problem. Let's not try to save the world by increasing the problem!"
- Ken Keyes
"I will walk until I am given to rest. I will fast until I am given to eat. I will do this until I die or until peace comes to the world."
- Peace Pilgrim
"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.