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Global Visionaries' Mission: Empowering young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future.

SUMMER INTENSIVE ’17 – TRIP REPORT #5

From: Simone Evans (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)

The last few days have been bittersweet. A word I would use to describe this immersion would be togetherness. For every fear shed…. a shoulder was available, and open arms full of love greeted someone who three weeks ago was a stranger. Over the past 2 weeks, we have all became a family, and as cliché as that sounds I gained 35 brothers and sisters on this trip. People have shared their deepest thoughts and biggest fears with such a vulnerability that it allowed a space of comfortability.

 

We spent three days in a workshop with attempts to learn what others did in months; and before we knew it, we were in Deltas cushioned seats on our way to a different country together. I remember a thought that constantly kept replaying in my mind: “What am I going to learn this time? Will I feel a change? What will be the impact?” I stressed these questions until our very last reflection. Because at the very last reflection, I discovered my answer.

 

My answer was the blue, brown, green, hazel, multicolored eyes staring back at me. I learned what a genuine, natural love felt like. I learned everyone around me was just like me. We all had fears; we all needed love and we all wanted change. The only way we were going to get through these in two weeks were together, whether if was almost breaking our backs trying to carry what felt like 100 pounds of powered concrete or being a comforter to those crying from their fears. The vulnerability that was carefully allowed was a beautiful thing to watch as a junior leader. It was as if I was looking through a lens of past experience and remembering when that was me. The fear of judgment, the fear of alienation creeping up because of the everyday experiences in high school only to learn that we were all thinking that same thought. But to only be relieved that we are all here for a reason. Right next to you was, as Fiona would eloquently say, “a beautiful person” with a beautiful heart who only wanted to spread the love.

I am quickly filling these pages with words on my way back to Seattle now that I know what this immersion did to me; better yet what this group did to me. They showed me the real definition of what love is. I didn’t really know what that was, because I’ve constantly had fake love shown by friends who surrounded me and I don’t know how or when I would’ve learned that without this group. But as I am walking the tightrope trying to become a strong woman and figure out this thing called life, I know I have 35 amazing people behind me.

 

Saying goodbye to Guatemala is bitter, but saying hello to my new friends is sweet. Without being uncomfortable by facing your fears, the fear of “no,” the fear of a broken heart, the fear of failure, you may never find what you never knew you needed. And for me, Simone Evans, that was love.

 

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SUMMER INTENSIVE ’17 – TRIP REPORT #4

El Blogpost de Elena Agdamag

From: Elena Agdamag (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)

Reported on July 30, 2017, Day 8 of the Summer Intensive ‘17

Returning to Guatemala has been the experience of a lifetime. I have witnessed both internal and external growth of exponential magnitude. Within the group dynamic, the overall amount of thought and consideration placed upon our presence has blossomed tenfold. Insight and raw emotion resounded through the halls of our last group reflection, resonating within our hearts.

These were not the same kids who had entered the GV workshops a little over a week ago. These kids live life differently than normal and had really pushed themselves out of their comfort zones. The change has been initiated within our future leaders, building in them the foundation for further global awareness. Is for my personal growth, the immersion has called on me to delegate between adults and participants. I have learned to strengthen my leadership skills through facilitation and organization. My time in Guatemala has been absolutely unforgettable, thanks to my new friends.

SUMMER INTENSIVE ’17 TRIP REPORT #3

From: Colin Gersch, (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)

Reported on July 30, 2017, Day 8 of the Summer Intensive ‘17

As I sit on a bus listening to 3 guys attempt to harmonize while using a falsetto, I began to reflect my experience thus far in GV. It didn’t take me long to realize that it is not Guatemala of the Immersion that has changed but me. Since the beginning of my Immersion last year, I have become an entirely different person as I have learned about my place in the world and the impact that I have when I decide to make one. Last year, as a participant, I felt caught up in all the excitement, but now as I step into a leadership role I feel more connected with those around me instead. The bonds I have developed with other Junior Leaders, and Chapines (Guatemalan teens) are some of the things I value the most in life and I know they’ll last a life time. These two weeks have taught me something of the upmost importance: “the only thing I know is that I know nothing,” Socrates. During my immersion as a participant, I had my eyes opened to the worlds around me. During my 2nd immersion, now as a Junior Leader, I have had my eyes opened to what is inside me. I have learned so much about the type of person and leader that I want to be, and I know that the only opinion of me that matters is my own. In my trip thus far, I have also struggled. For me, I feel as if I am a gardener and the participants are seeds. They will grow and bloom with my help. But I have to be careful because if I try too hard, I will stunt their growths. I find myself constantly wanting to step in and give them the knowledge so they can grow, but I realize now that I only need to provide them the space to grow and develop into the leaders of tomorrow I know they’ll be.

GV is an experience like no other. I entered the program as a kid, excited to go to Guatemala to build a school, but as I ready myself to leave the program I am a strong leader who knows the privilege he has and how to use it for change. With the support of these new friends for life from the States and Guatemala, I am prepared to make a difference. I used to believe that the most important things I had to fight for were my friends and family, and that hasn’t changed.  But GV has helped me learn that I have to fight for the future – for all people not just my own.  And, with countless new friends and 2 new families, I know I have plenty of people right beside me, ready to fight with me.

SUMMER INTENSIVE ’17 TRIP REPORT #2

From: Kaya Lohnes (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)

Reported on July 27, 2017, Day 5 of the Summer Intensive ‘17

Working in the hospital has given me a true sense of human nature. I see all of similarities between myself and my life with the people in the hospital, rather than the differences. The grandmother Viky smiles and I smile; I communicate with my words and she communicates with her body and her happy noises. I’ve seen the power of love, the power of music, the power of touch, the power of feeling. Whether I’m walking in circles with someone singing “Estrellita,” sitting in silence holding their hands, or having a conversation about anything and everything, each moment is eye-opening. I’ve had to challenge myself in countless ways and it hasn’t even been 5 days in the hospital.

SUMMER INTENSIVE ’17 TRIP REPORT #1

From: Skylar McLoughlin (Junior Leader, Summer Intensive 2017)

Reported on July 25, 2017, Day 3 of the Summer Intensive ’17

Early Immersion Reflections.

Today makes the third day of Intensive 2017. It’s amazing how different my feelings are, being in Guatemala for a second time. Going into a leadership position as a Junior Leader, I was under the impression would constantly be very overwhelmed and stressed out, but it is actually the opposite. Being a Junior Leader means I’m helping each participant to be a leader.  It is my responsibility to guide them on that journey. It is extremely rewarding to see everyone in my group stepping up, taking a lead and handling their jobs with ease.  That effort has made my job that much easier. Of course, there are areas we all need to improve upon, (first-year and us junior leaders), but I have to remember that this only the beginning and there is much more time to grow and improve their leadership skills.

Personally, the trip has been slightly underwhelming but not necessarily in a bad way. I am coming back to Guatemala already familiar with the country, the people, the food, our day-to-day activities.  The only thing that is new to me is my job as a Junior Leader. I have mixed feelings about being familiar with that country, and the trip itself. The first time I came to Guatemala, I fell in love with the culture, the food, how colorful everything is, and how kind people are.  I am still completely in love with all of these things, but none of it is as eye-opening as it was the first time –  and I was really hoping I would have the same eye-opening, life-changing experience.  However, in the last few days I have realized it is my job to give that life-changing experience to all of the participants so that they fall in love with Guatemala the way I did. It is very difficult for me to write down my feelings and explain everything that is going on in my brain, because there’s all kinds of things happening up there. It is also extremely difficult for me to explain how life changing this trip was/is for me and there really is no way of knowing without experiencing it for yourself.

So… there is a little glimpse into life in Guatemala for us GVers.  I only hope that I was able to give you a better understanding of the impact of Global Visionaries.

Summer 2017 Trip Report

Last year I came to Guatemala as a quiet, first year student.  This year, I have returned as one of the four “Junior Leaders”.

Being a Junior leader has been so much fun. I just love being able to speak so much. I also felt safe enough to cry; I hadn’t cried in front of anybody except my mom. Being in Segunda Cruz and just playing with the kids, has been so much fun. It reminds me when I used to play with my brothers and sisters – turning off all of the lights in my home and hiding on the roof and jumping off when they start looking up there. Even during hard times, the times we didn’t have electricity or even water, we were still having so much fun.

These kids here in Guatemala love to play, but now I believe that it is a way of trying to forget about the stress that they must have…things I imagine are on their minds like having to worry about being able to get food tonight. One of the parents in Segunda Cruz said that their most happiest days are when they are able to provide for their family. Thinking about this, and about growing up with a single mom – it must have been an enormous amount of pain because she couldn’t afford to pay the bills, the constant moving, all the responsibility, and fear, as an immigrant, of being deported must have been so nerve wracking. Keeping all of the pain within herself and not to share it.

Coming back had open eyes again – not just to poverty.  But the realization that the pain that many families face is similar to what I have experienced. This is an unforgettable experience.

 

Marcos Castro Lemus

Incoming Freshman, Seattle University

2017-07-10 12_56_46-Gvisionaries (@gvisionaries) • Instagram photos and videos

What Makes GV Different

By Morgan Flake

Imagine leading 42 high school students through an airport and onto a series of planes to a foreign country. Are you experiencing mild panic?

As a program manager at GV, this is part of my job. I love my job—I get to work with amazing youth, speak Spanish, travel, and work for social justice. It can be stressful at times! There are many details to manage. Luckily, the GV structure makes it easier. As the spring immersion approached, every time I started to stress about the tasks ahead, I remembered the team of Junior Leaders that I would be traveling with and my anxiety dissipated. Now, it may sound pretty wild that an adult program manager is relying on a group of four teen leaders and a teen intern, but what GV does—the leadership we build in young people—is remarkable. And reliable. Not only could I count on the five youth to initiate every passport check as we made our way through the airport, to get students to write letters to self on the plane, to start games at the waiting area—I needed to in order to encourage their leadership.

At GV I’ve learned that we can’t teach leadership, we can only share it. By stepping back, supervising, and using what we call the “invisible hand” of leadership, I can guide and monitor quietly in the background while the youth step up to lead the group.

It is a beautiful and inspiring thing to watch. Emily, Tia, Anthony, Nancy, and Rory absolutely rocked this immersion. When something slipped my mind, like training the Leaders of the Day for the next day, the Junior Leaders reminded me, rather than the other way around. They were highly observant, making sure that every participant felt included. They came up with their own strategies to solve problems. They intuited the best response to situations: when to intervene, when to go with the flow, when to delegate a task, when to pump up the group. Their leadership was democratic. They encouraged each participant to do their assigned job (whether making sure everyone was drinking water or making sure we were mixing up between gringos and Guatemalans), so that they could build their confidence and capacity to lead. I never stop marveling at how unique it is to develop these skills through the experiences GV offers.

I only began to learn these skills in college, more so after college. These students are prepared to lead diverse groups through challenging circumstances before they even graduate high school. I can only imagine what they will accomplish beyond 18 years old. They will be senators, teachers, and scientists. They will be leaders in whatever field they choose to pursue.

The first year leadership program shapes empathetic hearts and critical minds. It creates meaningful memories that I have seen change a person more than any textbook could. The Advanced Leadership Program takes that growth and understanding, and amplifies. Students learn to facilitate conversations, resolve conflicts, build movements. I can’t wait to see how our first year participants who continue with GV through the Advanced Leadership Program will grow as they build their leadership over the coming years, and I can’t wait to read about them in the newspaper someday. But they don’t need to wait until some arbitrary age to lead—Global Visionaries youth are leaders already, today.

SPRING ’17 TRIP REPORT #4

From: Anthony Goss (Junior Leader, Spring Immersion 2017)

Reported on April 19, 2017, day 12 of the Spring ’17 Immersion

The phrase I have used most these past two weeks is “hace tres años.” It means three years ago and I have used those words to compare my first experience as a participant to my current experience as a Junior Leader.

“Hace trés años, me quedé con la familia Rodriguez.” Three years ago, I stayed with the Rodriguez family. I was a freshman in high school and terrible at speaking Spanish. I clogged the toilet during my first night with the Rodriguezes. There are moments I’d like to forget from my first time with the Rodriguez family, like the toilet incident and accidentally calling the mother, Elvia, ancient, and there are moments I want to always remember. This family, whom I had never met until then, showed me incredible love and kindness. They unclogged the toilet, prepared excellent meals, and dealt with my broken Spanish. Elvia devoted an evening to teaching me the proper pronunciation of silverware, and Alessandro, the 8-year-old, played wordless games of hide and seek with me and showed me the best way to pet the dog, Yogui. This family opened my eyes to the realities of living in a country where it takes a day to earn what one would in an hour in the US. I woke up every morning to the smell of fire; Elvia would get up at 5 am each morning to cook food to sell in the market – a way for the family to make extra money.

Hace tres años, the Rodriguez family wasn’t complete. Elvia’s husband, Armando, and youngest son, Tony, were away, working in the United States. The family kept a candle burning at all times, a silent prayer for their safety. My first experience with the Rodriguez’s taught me the love and hardships of the people in Guatemala.

Today, three years later, I walked alone down the long street of San Miguel and found their house by memory. I knocked on my old door as a different person. A leader, an experienced GV alumni with three years of Spanish under my belt and an acceptance to college. Their house was the same as I remembered it, but the people inside had changed.

Armando and Tony had returned, jailed then deported in the last few months by the Trump administration. I asked them where they lived in the US, and they laughed and said “jail.” Nestor, another son, had a second child but had lost his job and spent the last two years looking for work. Armando and Tony hadn’t found work either, and Elvia worked from 5 am to midnight making food for Semana Santa (Easter week). Finally, Yogui, the dog I have been so lovingly instructed to pet a certain way…. had run away and never come back. The family was still incredibly kind and humble, but I felt a note of sadness in their words.

As I walked back down the long road, I became angry at my country for making people I care about miserable. I was mad that the racism and fear peddled by the current US administration had reached this quiet Guatemalan town. I was mad that it affected this family; a family filled with people willing to do hard labor, while my friends in Seattle weren’t even willing to get off of their cellphones. I was also feeling really sad. This stable family I met three years ago had an air of despair that no amount of food or smiles could mask.

Hace tres años, I was only prepared to experience the people and culture of Guatemala. Now, GV has given me the confidence and capacity to act. Sitting on the roof of the Rodriguez’s house, looking at laundry and garbage, I promised myself that I would use my privilege to make change. I recognize that I have a privilege to go to college, to not need to work 19 hour days to put food on the table, and to return to the US.

I was already planning on studying political science and international relations in college, but now I have extra motivation. Now, I have a family to fight for.

2017-04-19 16_27_13-Gvisionaries (@gvisionaries) • Instagram photos and videos

SPRING ’17 TRIP REPORT #3

From: Emily Black (Junior Leader, Spring Immersion 2017)

Reported on April 16, 2017, day 9 of the Spring ’17 Immersion

Take 2 in Guatemala.

The moment I stepped off the plane in Guatemala City I was hit with a smell I could only describe as ¨Guatemala.¨ It’s amazing how such a small thing like the scent of an airport I hadn’t been to in two years can make me wide awake at 1:30 in the morning.

The immersion has flown by. I cannot believe that there are only 4 days left. It feels like just yesterday I was here for the first time. But of course I wasn’t, because yesterday I was at Iximche (the Mayan ruins). Being so far into the immersion I can see the growth of myself and the people around me. People who didn’t know a lick of Spanish on Day 1 are now able to talk about colors, and for being here for just over a week, that’s impressive. The end is in sight and with each passing day it becomes more and more apparent that Guatemala hasn’t seen the last of me.

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SPRING ’17 TRIP REPORT #2

From: Nancy Curtis (Junior Leader, Spring Immersion 2017)

Reported on April 14, 2017, day 7 of the Spring ’17 Immersion 

Returning to Guatemala, I thought I knew exactly what to expect. When I arrived I was met by one of the hardest, most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. When I came to Guatemala as a participant in Spring of 2016, the hardest part every day was going to sleep because I was too excited for the next day. I was comfortable, engaged, and felt like the two weeks passed in the blink of an eye. I met new people, immersed myself in a culture nothing like my own, and learned more about myself than I ever thought I could. Now, exactly a year later, my immersion has been magnified tenfold. Every day, living in this culture that is still foreign to me, but I have grown to love, I find myself pushed like never before to mess up, learn, and grow. These three actions, which define my day to day life, have become my closest companions and greatest nemeses.

Working with the coffee harvesting team every day, I find myself stepping up to lead in ways I didn’t consider before. I have taught myself, or rather been taught by this immersion, that you can lead from 5 steps back. And that the greatest leaders empower rather than direct. Through working with Leaders of the Day ( first-year participants each lead their team for a day) I have grown my delegation skills while watching the leadership skills of the youth around me thrive. Not only does this help the confidence in leading of these youth, it also teaches them that they hold power among their peers. Although here that manifests as making bringing the team together (in GV Huddles!)  for group discussions or leading the celebration of our days work, their growth is directly translated into their lives in Seattle.

I now find myself in a unique position, one that makes me proud and uncomfortable at the same time. As the skills of the participants develop, they are stepping up to lead and their need to be taught and directed is changes. Although I know there will never be a morning when I don’t wake up and make a list of everything that I need to remember to do for the day, I’m gradually seeing the list shrink as my confidence in these students grows and I am comforted when I see their names appear next to each responsibility. I’m beyond proud in the leadership I see in this group of participants; the same leadership I felt emerge last year. Although we are only halfway through our time here and there are still a million more lessons coming, this immersion has allowed me to grow, thrive, and better myself as a leader and a person. I know that a week from today, when I wake up in my bed in Seattle, I will miss everything about this immersion: the people, the sun, the work, the food, and perhaps most of all, the challenges every day provides and the lessons I learn from each challenge.

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