David McNaught

Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy, Guatemala

Part of UK in Guatemala

25th July 2012 Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala meets Charles Dickens, sort of

If you’re in Guatemala City, or nearby, and not completely wrapped-up in the London Olympics (if not, why not?!) then consider popping into the Guatemalan International Book Fair (FILGUA). It’s on until July 29th. We’ve been supporting it, and earlier this week a Brit living here, and linguist, Dr Neville Stiles MBA PhD BA, gave a fantastic presentation about Charles Dickens. We were keen to support the Fair as it complements perfectly our promotion of the GREAT campaign, a platform that invites people to take a fresh look at everything Britain has to offer, culture and history being just two. Charles Dickens ticks both those boxes, for sure!

To tell you more about FILGUA and Charles Dickens, here’s Neville:

I was born in Portsmouth, England, and have lived in Guatemala some 30 years now, working as a linguist. When I was approached by the British Embassy in Guatemala City to talk about Charles Dickens and the 200th anniversary of his birth, I assumed the British database on its citizens must be in perfect shape. Who else could there be in Guatemala that was born only one mile from where Charles Dickens was born? I remember passing his house every day for many years on my way to school!

It was rather special for me to talk about such an important and impressive British author at the FILGUA 2012 event, held in Guatemala City, in which posthumous honours were presented by the FILGUA organizers.

FILGUA is an important literary event and one which affects many people either as participants or visitors. There are multiple bookstands from all over Latin America, as far away as Cuba and Argentina and Peru, and many of the Guatemalan school children participate in a variety of ways. I was moved to see so many well-behaved children, in smart uniforms, often from public schools, all showing visible interest in everything around them. Something very special were the blind children in smart red and blue uniforms, all with their white sticks and guiding themselves accurately around the displays. Needless to say, there was an exhibition of Braille publications.

The Dickens presentation was in three parts – a general overview in the form of a video, a PowerPoint presentation on different aspects of Dickens’ life and works, and a couple of clips from a recent BBC production of Oliver Twist.

The audience was interested in knowing about the history of the United Kingdom and I was pleased to be able to share, albeit a small amount of insight on Charles Dickens. I recommend everyone visit FILGUA 2012 – you will be quite pleasantly surprised.

Thanks Neville!

If you fancy some activity after visiting FILGUA then why not join us this weekend at the Sport and Art Festival being held at Sports City in Guatemala City’s Zone 5. The Embassy will have a stand there on Sunday from 0900, so please do come and see us!

About David McNaught

I have been in Guatemala since August 2009 as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy. For the next few months I'll be stand-in Ambassador - Charge d'Affaires in…

I have been in Guatemala since August 2009 as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy. For the next few months I'll be stand-in Ambassador - Charge d'Affaires in diplomatic speak - until the arrival of our new Ambassador, Sarah Dickson. Julie Chappell, our former Ambassador, was a prolific blogger, so I hope I can match her energy as we have plenty of interesting material to blog about! You will also hear from our excellent Embassy team who are keen to continue blogging about their work and experiences in Guatemala.