Over a crackling, erratic Skype connection, the Seattle GV staff conducted an open meeting with the Guatemala GV staff to share their aspirations for the future of a more unified, more cohesive Global Visionaries.
Each staff member from Guatemala, in a mix of English and Spanish, professed their dreams for the development of Global Visionaries in the context of their local communities. With conviction, all members wanted to develop and streamline a youth leadership program, not unlike the Seattle Youth Leadership Program, that recruits from their own local high schools. The leadership program they desired, would mirror the social and environmental justice curriculum administered by the Seattle Program.
Another student-centric goal would be to develop a Center for Arts and Education for high school youth to attend after school.
One of the staff members expressed that the learning center would integrate high school leadership by providing tutoring opportunities to students. The creation of this program would address the often young drop-out age among Guatemalan youth. Because they are expected to help with household duties, Guatemalan students often do not have the time or the resources they need to retain the information learned at school. The Center for Arts and Education would try to mitigate that problem by providing an environment that encourages education and stresses its importance.
The staff hopes to grow and develop professionally, as well. Sandra Ordonez, who spent six months here in the Seattle office, mentioned the need for employment opportunities for junior staff members, so that they can transition to becoming more permanent staff.
They hope to involve recent high school graduates in order to help them with certain professional skill sets, such as accounting, teaching, even plumbing! For professional development, staff members expressed need for both computer literacy and English language skills to become a stronger team that can create a bigger impact in their local communities.
Their dreams, however, are sobered with an understanding of their limitations. Staff members admitted that the culture of philanthropy, so strongly present in Seattle, simply does not exist in Guatemala. Therefore, needed resources to support their programs, such as school furniture and supplies, are very difficult to procure. Staff articulated that in order for Global Visionaries to function more strongly and more cohesively, the two offices must have an equitable access to resources and information.
Seattle and Guatemala GV staff members resolved to create stronger communication ties and to bridge the gaps experienced by the two offices, separated by a vast distance and culture. At the heart of it, both offices share a common goal of empowering youth leaders to enrich their local and global communities. As Virgina Burden once said, “Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” Through the continuation of these honest and consistent conversations, positive change is certain.