All posts by gvisionaries

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

What if our Presidents had participated in Global Visionaries?

A CALL TO ACTION

Our President calls for America First,
And then bans people of a given spiritual faith of particular countries from entering this country–which was founded by the religiously persecuted.
Now, This Land is Your Land, the lyrics of folk singer Woodie Guthrie echoed in international airports in response.

Our President calls for America First…but how do you define “America?”
U.S. participants in GV soon discover that Guatemalans [chapines] think of themselves as “Americans.”
Guatemalans are offended that we as U.S. Americans have co-opted that word, that identity–“American”–as our own.
“American” encompasses North, Central, and South Americas with a rich diversity of ethnicities.

Thus far, the policies being advanced by the current White House Administration are contrary to GV’s mission…

Empowering young people to become global citizens creating a just and sustainable future.

Consider this: What if our Presidents had participated in Global Visionaries?
My wish, my dream, my hope, my vision: all of our elected leaders do so.
Our response to this current reality is this:

As public education is under attack,

We will raise more money for scholarships for low income youth and youth targeted because of their race and ethnicity.

>We will empower youth to think critically, listen empathically, and act powerfully.

As a wall between Latin America and the U.S. is proposed,

We will build bridges to strengthen the bonds and understanding between citizens of
Guatemala and the U.S.  Mending and reconciling the violent legacy of a 1954 CIA coup d’état.  We will support families in our GV community and beyond who have undocumented members. And we recognize our privilege as U.S. citizens to be able to fly over such a proposed wall. And the responsibility that comes with that privilege.

As Muslims from select countries are banned from our borders and the Constitution disregarded,

We will provide opportunities for youth to build friendships by breaking down stereotypes about one another, creating a space for deep listening and sharing of their most precious life stories and experiences, leading to life-long friendships they otherwise would not have had.

>We will empower youth to think critically, listen empathically, and act powerfully.

As LGBTQI communities are under attack,

We will continue to make GV a safe and sacred place/community where everyone is loved and respected for who they are.

When we are presented with “alternative facts,”

We will increase our participants’ confidence to think critically for themselves
To do their own research; to not scapegoat others.  To see how change begins with oneself and to understand that our existence and survival depends on our recognition that we are all interdependent.

>We will empower youth to think critically, listen empathically, and act powerfully.

When brown and black bodies are threatened and incarcerated,

We will provide Anti-Oppression – Pro-Justice trainings, so that every youth participating can gain the skills to become an ALLY when they fall in privileged categories, and learn to overcome internalized oppression when they fall in the targeted categories.

When women’s rights and their right to control their own bodies are at risk,

We empower young people of all genders to raise their voices strongly.

>We will empower youth to think critically, listen empathically, and act powerfully.

When our ability to create a sustainable future is jeopardized,

We will plant trees, provide youth the skills and motivation to reduce their ecological footprint, and powerfully voice their opinions on what kind of planet is desperately needed —using an array of platforms to get their message across.

When we are told to keep our mouths shut if we disagree,

We will host free workshops for the community at large to learn how to make one’s voice count in D.C. and locally. (Feb 16, Thursday, 6-8:00 pm is first one and we will lobby on Feb 24, Friday.)

We, this beloved and inspired GV community, have been at this for 20 years now. And, will be for the next 20….

>We will empower youth to think critically, listen empathically, and act powerfully.

Allow me to say before I close: I have just returned to GV after taking three months off to take care of my health. I am deeply grateful to the staff, the Board and the entire GV community for forwarding our collective work.

As I return to work, I am acutely present to the urgency and importance of our mission.
As an Israeli Rabbi whom I sat next to on a flight once told me: “You [U.S.] Americans have a Statue of Liberty on the East Coast. What you need is a statue of responsibility on the West Coast to balance it out.”

This is my call to action and with this, I express my immeasurable gratitude for your support, your action, your investment and the collective responsibility we feel to:
Create a space for youth to lead the way;
Defend everything we stand for in our mission;
Partner with us as we empower youth to critically think, empathically listen and powerfully act.

In solidarity and in peace,

Co-Founder, Chris Fontana

 

Soon, GV will feature commentary and perspectives from the GV Guatemalan staff and Guatemalan youth leaders. Guatemala elected a stand-up comedian for their President a year ago. They have had, sadly, a wealth of experience with “strongmen” as their leaders.

Summer Immersion Update – From Mykal!

This immersion has been a roller coaster for myself as a leader. I have  been up and down and at times I didn’t know if I was up or down or how I felt. At times I felt as if I wasn’t fit for the role of Junior Leader, and during other times, I felt like I knew exactly what to do and how to do it.

I have realized on this immersion that I am too hard on myself, like many others in the United States. I have to learn how to not keep measuring myself against what everyone thinks is perfection. I know that I still have a long way to go as a leader and realize that I am still learning along the way to becoming a great leader. It definitely does not happen overnight. I have learned that I can’t “should” on myself or anyone else because that would mean I am not looking to the future and how to become a better leader. I would still be looking at what I or someone else did or didn’t do. We are only ready to do something when we do it. And I think I am ready to begin a new chapter, or book, if you will, with what I have learned on this immersion and will be taking back with me to Seattle. This day and this immersion has been a gift, a really special one that I didn’t know I needed in my life at this moment. I would especially like to thank Maria Fontana and Dalton for having me realize what a gift this immersion has been as well as my mindset shift in order to grow as a human being. One thing is for sure, it’s not in the genes (jeans, haha).

Con mucho amor,

Christopher Mykal Green

Summer Immersion Update – From Denisse!

What defines a leader?

To me a “leader” signifies one who works side by side with others, one who understands, reflects, and shows empathy. A leader is an equal, a comforting shoulder, and a genuine smile.

This immersion has challenged me in ways I had no idea it would. I went through three different phases: confusion, frustration, and then lasting understanding and confidence in my continuous self-growth. I’ve not only seen myself break down socially constructed barriers, but I’ve also had the honor to be a witness to little changes as well as complete 180 degree turn arounds in others throughout this immersion.

Listening to the participants discuss topics that can be very intimidating in such an open-minded manner is truly inspiring. Not only do they question the “why?” “who?” and “what?” but they also find actual solutions; short term plans as well as long term plans. With this group, encouraging and establishing that everyone and anyone matters is a popular topic. I think change begins when we realize the power we all hold within and the strength in solidarity. One person can make a difference.

I would like to thank the GV Summer 2016 group for teaching me to be patient, in tune with my emotions, and to always dance like no one is watching.

Summer Immersion Update – From Naomi!

Coming into this experience I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or what it would entail, but I feel as though I’m starting to catch on more. Working in the hospital again this year has been incredible. To be honest, I feel as though it has almost been a bit harder this year. For the first two days that we spent in the hospital, I found myself leaving with a sense of panic. I kept on feeling as though I had no time to spend with the patients and the friends I had created last year and also make time to create new connections. Last year I left here with the idea of applying to Youth Board, which provided me with the small sense of hope that I might return. This year, though, I realize that it would be very difficult, if even possible, to return in the coming years and visit my friends in the hospital, which is a terrifying and sad thought.

Things have been really great though overall and I’m still a bit overwhelmed and astonished that I’m actually back here. Leading is definitely more exhausting than I could ever have imagined. I feel like the Junior Leaders have many behind the scenes responsibilities, which are difficult to notice from the outside, so I don’t have a perfect image to replicate. Many of the responsibilities and tasks we have are fairly simple and would be quickly accomplished by one person, but in the effort to foster teamwork, we delegate different parts of the job to different people. It is very important and provides the participants with an opportunity to practice their leadership skills. It is just a much more tiring process when you have to delegate, check in, confirm that the job was completed, and reflect for each individual task. It absolutely pays off, though, when you see someone that was once shy and timid share, open up to the group, and blossom in the work they are doing and people they are interacting with. It really is incredible. I can’t wait to see how other develop as well.

-Naomi Rothenberg (Mercer Island High School Class of 2016, incoming first year student at Willamette University)

Spring Immersion Update: From Richard!

The immersion experience in Guatemala is coming to a close and as I look at the participants around me I feel like my job has been completed. The participants are no longer individuals, but one whole community. They support one another through happiness, through saddness; they have a connection with each other that is special and unique. No one but those around them right now will truly be able to understand what they have gone through these past two weeks. Even participants from the past and the future cannot understand because each group of first-years contains different individuals that make each program one of a kind.

Parents, don’t worry, your children will eventually find words that accurately reflect their emotions, but until then, let them think, let them contemplate all that they have been through. You have watched them grow from crawling unaware toddlers to the proud and confident teenagers they are now; and waiting a few days is nothing compared to that.

I am grateful to have led such an empathetic group of high school students. Everyone has displayed an incredible amount of respect for one another and shared stories that their closest confidants have yet to hear. Looking at the leaders of the future here in Guatemala with me, I have no doubts that the future will be filled with equality, with compassion, with global visionaries.

Richard Wang
2nd Year Junior Leader

Spring Immersion Update: From Megan!

The warm sun beats down upon us. Roosters begin to crow at 4am in the morning. Bright red, yellow, green, blue houses down every street. The lively beats of bachata, reggae-ton, and salsa twirl through the crisp refreshing San Miguel Escobar night.

The GV office in Guatemala, the baroque styled church in San Miguel Park, the participant drop-off routes. Everything is so familiar to me. The 2-hour long weekly meetings since September helped prepare me for these two weeks. The feeling of being back in Guatemala is so surreal to me, and I am still so grateful to have this opportunity. 

Spending two weeks in Guatemala around the same time frame as my first immersion trip least year, I can sense definite similarities. However, distinct differences completely make this experience unique on its own. Obviously, the people I am traveling with are different.   And working in the hospital of Hermano Pedro rather than in the coffee fields is new, as is my role, that of a Junior Leader.

As a Junior Leader, I understand the amount of responsibility I have with technical aspects regarding the energy, the well being, and cultural understanding of the group. I’ve noticed every time my peer Ray and I get home, walk up the stairs and finally close the doors, I feel so tired yet very content at the end of the day. I love watching the epiphanies participants have after compiling the knowledge that they have accrued on this trip with what they previously know. I have seen so much development with leadership skills among the group. 

Work Teams are a crucial component of this two week immersion experience. Working in the hospital allows me to understand another aspect of this society- its healthcare. Every day we visit two wards, attempting to provide love and attention to these patients. I have made so many connections with patients and have become so close with my hospital work team. Personally, when patients smile, laugh or have their fears assuaged, I feel immense joy –  not because I feel I have reached a “goal” but rather the presence of a tacit understanding of a mutual feeling of compassion and love. This is why every time I leave a ward, my heart aches, and why I am giving these last two work days my all. 

In conclusion, these facets of my immersion have helped me gain a deeper understanding of the world and become a better leader. Whether it’s my new found confidence I acquired from the Spanish language classes, or my greater cultural understanding, I am so grateful for all the conversations I have had with my homestay family, the GV Staff, all my Guatemalan friends and everyone I have encountered on the trip. I am so thankful for this experience.

Megan Lee –

2nd Year Junior Leader

Spring Immersion Update: From Ray!

Hey! I am Ray and I am the Junior Leader on the Cafe work team – we are the Coffee work team.  I think that being a Junior Leader has been of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Rewarding because I have seen shy kids change into confident Spanish speakers and loud kids change into careful listeners. I have been able to witness the emotional learning experience that Guatemala brings you on a first hand level and I think that has been amazing. Witnessing the vulnerability and authenticity that is evoked from this experience has helped me grow as a leader, person, and friend. Learning how to feel the complicated range of emotions from a group of teenagers has been a challenge and so with each passing day I strive to give the group the kind of leader they need.

Another challenge that I have faced is being a leader but also being a person, too. Knowing how to balance the intensity of being a 24-hour leader and keeping yourself happy and healthy. I get inspiration from the amazing stories I hear every day, and I am constantly trying to absorb as much passion and learning from the people around me as I can. I hope that as the next few days pass, I can learn and grow as a person –  because that is what I think being a Junior Leader is all about.

To the spring parents, you are so lucky to have such courageous and curious kids and I am thankful; you let them spend these two weeks with me helping both of us grow!

Testimonial from a GV supporter – Bill Ellis

GSLI2015During the nine years that I have been a supporter of Global Visionaries, it has been wonderful to witness its evolution and growth.  Its programs have deepened, with increased opportunities presented for youth to find and bring out their “inner leader”.  You can see their self-confidence build, like an expanding balloon.  Recently, GV has extended its reach with the powerful Global Leadership Summer Institute.  I wanted to call out this less well-known aspect of Global Visionaries since it is an incredible addition to the overall program.

The Global Leadership Summit is a week for educators – with some strong speakers.  Terry Bergeson, the former 12 year Superintendent of Public Instruction of Washington State and GV’s CEO Chris Fontana will be spending 5 days with regional educators, administrators and leaders interested in youth education to grow acumen in the area of bringing democracy to the classroom.  If it is engaged global leaders we want as an outcome, then we need to change the way we are teaching our youth. GV is providing teachers a pathway for they themselves to become global leaders. And this enables teachers to create learning environments in which students take charge of their learning.  I am increasing convinced that, with this full-circle approach to education (providing student and educator learning opportunities), GV is on track to make real changes in the leadership of the future.

This is just one of the reasons I’m looking forward to seeing what the next nine years will bring for GV!

– Bill Ellis
GV Supporter

Gv’s Guatemalan Staff Visits Seattle ….Maybe Your House?

Global Visionaries has a whole team in Guatemala that works locally to ensure the experience for our participants is meaningful, safe, organized, impactful, and respects the communities we work with within Guatemala.  To improve language and professional development skills in the U.S., as well asassist in recruiting, Aurelio some of us on this team comes up to Seattle annually. I am part of that team and will be coming back to Seattle this fall. I thought it would be interesting for those involved in Global Visionaries to understand a bit of what we do while in the States. If this is helpful, maybe in the future, one of us can blog about what we do here in Guatemala as well to prepare for our programs.

First, we have to manage finances from the Guatemala side of our work. In August I will work with RoxAnne  (our COO) and Bernie, our finance manager, to get updated on the newest GV accounting system and processes as well as some operational changes that require collaboration between the Seattle and Guatemalan offices. In September/part of October I will be involved with recruiting and educating the Seattle regional high schools.  This is a great part of the trip – as we play a big role in explaining the programs to prospective students and parents. I think it is helpful and perhaps comforting for those planning to be part of the GV programs (and for parents) when the actual Guatemalan team is standing right there in front of them.

I am also looking forward to talking to some of the GV leadership, getting coaching on administrative techniques and planning. This is an important part of the program. A good administration system (financial and administrative) allows the rest of the program to work.  This help will continue to drive efficiency in how we run things in Guatemala, so we have more time continue to improve the experience for our youth participants (and those educators who accompany them).  Then, as I get this type of training, I can share with the rest of the staff in Guatemala. The kids who are involved with the program will have confidence in the program.  If they can trust in the program, they are more likely to have good feelings and want to be part of the GV program.

We are really excited for this trip to the States. Of course, that means additional logistics, including finding host families who can house us for this time in Washington.  It is actually really fun. We get to see how Americans live a little bit better – which help us improve our English and our programs in Guatemala and our hosts get a taste of Guatemala. And of course, we make good friends with our host family

If you’d like the opportunity to host one of us this year – please let the GV staff know. Contact Mario Flores at MarioFlores@global-visionaries.org If you cannot commit to the full length of stay, please indicate when you can host.

Aurelio needs hosting:  Aug 10- Sept 17
Claudia needs hosting:  Sept 7- Nov 20
Billy needs hosting: Sept 7 – Nov 20
Aurelio needs hosting:  Sept 21 – Oct 30

We hope to meet with many of you when we are up there in the late summer fall.

Aurelio Hernandez