Category Archives: family

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 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


Thanking the GV program community

2014 YBretreat team 2As thanksgiving approaches, and recruitment comes to an end, Global Visionaries reflects on everyone who assisted in our efforts to ensure a successful first year program. In the midst of our efforts we could never forget the generosity of our many supporters. This blog is dedicated to you; students, parents, teachers. You all serve as a constant resource of believers and supporters for the GV mission and vision, we thank you.

GV Students

To all of our students, both current and past participants, you have demonstrated a high level of dedication assisting and sometimes leading school presentations and information nights; your insight and passion for the program keeps program staff energized. We couldn’t do this without you, nor would we want to, at GV we are a youth lead organization. Youth make that happen!

GV Parents

To our dedicated parents, who serve as ambassador for our program, you all have served a crucial part to our recruitment process. Your presence at info nights put the minds of prospective students’ parents at ease. Not only are parents crucial to recruitment but they have given us the privilege of working with the most important thing in their life, their children. We could not thank you enough…

The education community

And last but not least, the schools and teachers who continue to partner with us each year. Over the years, Global Visionaries has expanded to 36 schools! Teachers, you have witnessed the growth that your students experience through our program, first hand. In our next posting, we can’t wait to highlight a special teacher who has dedicated an immense amount of time to seeing his students through our program!

Words from Youth: At Home in Guatemala

June 27, 2013

By Eleora, 16 from West Seattle High School and Emily, 16 from Roosevelt High School

Eleora Emily

Here in our home stay family, we have 3 host siblings. It’s crazy how much they remind us of ourselves when we were younger even though they live such different lives.

Our youngest sister Maria Luisa is only 6. She loves princesses and dolls and wants to be a cake critic when she grows up. When she wants something she uses the classic puppy dog eyes. She doesn’t like peppers and only asks for the sugar right after someone else. Our brother Angel is 11 and wants to be the next Lionel Messi. He even can take injuries perfectly. Our 10 year old sister Duke is crazy mature, however, she still knows how to play games and have fun. Altogether, they’re a pretty lively bunch.

On the first night our host parents told us that they want us to feel at home, and that we should ask them for anything we need. Now, it doesn’t feel like Seattle here but it still feels like home.

Summer Trip: Hurry Up and Lead; Wait in the Meantime

20130620_193029By Marita Phelps, Global Visionaries Program Manager

June 25th, 2013

From the moment we gathered as a group in the airport we were faced with challenges that demanded leadership, selflessness and group unity. We were delayed two hours from our initial flight, made headlines because of a three hour emergency landing in Denver and after missing our connection in Miami, waited another seven hours in the airport for a new flight. Each and every young person in the group rose to the occasion and showed leadership.

They supported one another, they did not complain, they moved through the airports maturely, contributed valuable suggestions to solve the many problems we encountered and at the last leg of the trip, went down in GV history as the fastest group to load the bus. As one student recalls, “What really stuck with me was ‘group first, me second’ because everyone is just as tired as the next and we have to suck it up.” Certainly without forewarning and perhaps without forethought, the young people in this group were spontaneously faced with a challenge that called to use all the leadership skills they have learned in the program throughout the year. They truly rose to the occasion and proved to everyone, including themselves that they too have the ability to lead.

Despite the fatigue of traveling for 28 long hours, the group again “sucked it up” and the very next morning experienced their first lesson on global injustice during this Cultural Immersion at the Guatemala City dump. For many of the students, seeing the dump was a period of introspection. If the piercing silence wasn’t enough of an indication, the facial expressions certainly were. They were becoming aware, perhaps more so now than other times, of their personal contribution to environmental injustice and their responsibilities as global citizens. As another student recalled, “Seeing the dump made me realize how wealthy and privileged I really am compared to many people in the world. It also made me think about the role I play in supporting the system that creates situations like this -all the waste that I generate in a day, America’s support of successive military governments who mismanaged the country resulting in extreme poverty like this. I resolved to reuse and/or recycle everything I could, and to buy fewer processed foods and other products which come with a lot of packaging that then becomes trash.” To see the world shine in the light of justice both environmentally and socially we all must do what this young person has already done, which is to self-reflect and commit to lifestyle changes, if need be, for the greater good.

Thus far the students have also completed their first day of work, had their first day of school with their teachers, had small group reflections and every day are spending quality time with their home stay families. The learning and growth process this Cultural Immersion affords is multi-faceted and deep. The participants are gaining multiple perspectives about the world, in order to properly lead it, from Guatemalans and even each other. A student puts it best saying that, “My roommate and I both do not know any Spanish but we try and we interact but even after we have a conversation with our homestay family, we both have different views on what/who we were talking about. Thus making today one of my favorites because of all the opinions and different views by many other GV participants, especially heard on the long bus ride back to Antigua. Everyone takes away something different, but to share and explore ones you may never have crossed is the real reflection/learning experience.”

The future of the world is what comes to mind most often while we share this space and time with one another but we will first have to tackle the future of this trip and take our eagerness to see a just and sustainable world one step at a time. So, until the next time adios amigos!

Sights, sounds, tastes and heart: Christmas in Guatemala, Christmas in the US

by Kenna Stout


What do you get when you mix long, furry, green feet, anti-Christmas cheer and the ability to slither down chimneys?  A Grinch of a Christmas course! But not to worry, this is no ba-humbug article.  With many ho-ho-ho’s and some jingles along the way, only images of tinsel-trimmed trees, reindeer and sugar plum fairies will be left dancing in your head. And maybe a strange craving for a tamale, too.

When asked to write a little bit about Christmas traditions in Guatemala and the United States, I turned to blogosphere and the lovely Global Visionaries staff to unearth traditions found in Guatemala and in their own families.   Many thanks to Mario Flores, program outreach manager, who opened my eye to Christmas celebrations in Guatemala City.  And special thanks to Billy Lopez, assistant program manager, for sharing his family’s chuchitos (Guatemalan tamale) recipe, give it a shot!

While US Christmas shoppers are bombarded with images of Santa Claus and snowflakes, and carolers can be heard fala-lalala-lala-ing throughout the season; Christmas in Guatemala comes to life with the sight of colorful nacimientos, the sounds of fireworks, merengue and salsa, and the smells of pine, ponche and chuchitos.


Though, of course, at the heart of it all, are the children, whose excitement and joy are palpable in the weeks, days and hours leading up to Christmas. Despite the visible differences between how Christmas is celebrated – or ritualized in the traditions we keep – the essence of this holiday lies in our families, friends, communities and how said traditions strengthen the bonds of love between us.


Vintage SantaSanta Claus’s button nose and his sleigh full of toys is not a focal point for Guatemalan children.  Though this global icon can be found in many a window at department and toy stores, Mario points out that you won’t find very many fireplaces in Guatemala. Still, Santa’s true magic is not lost in the hearts of children.  On one night every year, anticipation runs rampant on a global scale, no matter how poor, rich, small or tall, children feel Christmas magic uniting them as a human community.  In Guatemala, children get to stay up all night on Christmas eve because at the stroke of midnight, they receive and unwrap the presents bestowed on them by parents, relatives and friends.  Guatemalan children give thanks to their parents and relatives for all the gifts and memories received and Santa’s antics in the chimney are left forgotten.  Still, Guatemala has its own unique images that add to the spirit of Christmas.


You may hear, “did you see, so-and-so’s nacimientos?”  Many churches, neighborhoods, and families create or sponsor elaborate nativity scenes called nacimientos to commemorate Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus.  These scale models depicting the manger scene can fill rooms and draw crowds of family, friends and nacimientos lovers alike.  Check out some examples of nacimientos and consider: do gingerbread house competitions seem dull in comparison? As opposed to the traditional US custom of “keeping up with the Joneses'” by lighting and decorating the outside of one’s house, nacimientos fill the inside of buildings with light and color.  Brightly colored sawdust in green, red and yellow line the ground of displays, neatly laid in rows and patterns representing the land and fields.  Though no prize is involved, great pride, planning and personalization go into their creation; they are like the frosting on any cake!

For days leading up to Christmas, las posadas, or parades re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for a safe haven, happen nightly.  As the processions wind through the streets, the drumming of a turtle shell is faintly heard as it brings up the rear.  Each night, Mary and Joseph get turned away from houses until they find refuge at a previously designated house.  Once they are safe, the participants and observers erupt in celebrations filled with hugs, candy, ponche, cookies or tamales and more.


Nothing tops the smell and sounds of firecrackers and fireworks that ring in (your ears) the holiday season.  On Christmas eve, to commemorate the birth of Jesus, fireworks are lit at six-hour intervals starting at noon, 6pm, midnight and noon again on Christmas day.  Other festivities include a church mass from 9pm to midnight and neighborhood or family parties that last all night long.


tamales1Food bonds us through taste, texture, smell, heart and history. Guatemalan tamales and American apple pies can be strong and delicious representations of a family’s past.  As they fill our bellies, they remind us to look to a future filled with love, joy and togetherness with our loved ones. No matter the country, common themes, like ingredients, flow through all of our traditions.  Like the sweet tamale and apple pie, cinnamon and love are ingredients that can be found around every corner during Christmas.

The history of the “tamal”, pre-dates Spanish conquistadors, going back to Mayan culture and beyond. Though the exact origin of the tamale is unknown, the significance it has for many families is connected to stories of migration, labor and family bonds.  Thousands of years ago, they fed armies and cities. Nowadays, they are a great lunch time snack that can be bought outside many offices in Guatemala City. Tamales are portable; they can be re- steamed, grilled or eaten cold.  Tamales carry sustenance bursting with flavor and can be altered to appease everyone’s taste buds. To be sure, tamales have a special place in the hearts of those who have ever eaten one.

tamales4Guatemalan tamales are essentially two parts: masa (corn flour) and filling, and wrapped in banana, plantain or another leaf of choice, then steamed to perfection. The dough, or masa, can be the trickiest part of the tamale to get right. The masa needs to be mixed with water or stock and fat (like butter or margarine) before it can be filled with any number of things. Typically though, the filling is made with meats such as chicken and pork, fruits such as raisins and pineapple or vegetables with chilies, cheese, or beans & finished with a sauce (red, green or mole). Yum!

And Christmas tamales are possibly the most important tamale of them all. Some will say Christmas just isn’t complete without one!  Making them before Christmas is part of the ongoing party that is the holiday season.  Moms, aunts, sisters and grandmothers spend days cooking, shaping, steaming and laughing, all in the name of the Christmas tamale. There is a saying that you can never cook tamales angry or they will just never cook! True or not, assembling tamales is best done with loved ones, while laughing, singing and having fun. Tamales are usually made for festive occasions, so the making of tamales must be kept festive too.

Now the last thing to remember about tamales is how to eat them.  Don’t be greedy!  Try them one at a time, even if they are the same kind.  Tamales are for sharing, they are for loving and they are always going to be around as long as families have loved ones to share the secrets and laughter with.


Christian missionaries may have brought the religious teachings behind why we celebrate Christmas and Germans may have lent us their tannenbaums; but however the traditions were brought to each of us, it is the gathering of family and friends that keeps our holiday traditions alive and in turn, each tradition we share helps to keep our families close.

In both, or should I say, all countries, children are at the heart of Christmas.  Children embody the spirit of Christmas to the fullest.  The worries of moms and dads, who are busy making sure the food is prepared and decorations are perfect, are washed away by the wonder and awe that so often captivate the hearts and imaginations of their children.

From Guatemala to the US to Zambia, every family’s recipe for how to celebrate a perfect Christmas is different. Whether you make apple or pumpkin pies, pork tamales or chuchitos; traditions are how our family secrets get passed down from generation to generation.  It is in the unique ingredients of our own recipes for a perfect Christmas that inform our traditions and keep them alive for years to come.

I think Mario Flores, GV’s program outreach manager, puts it best when he said Christmas is a “playful time you enjoy yourself, family, and community”, it is the sense of “feeling really welcome” not because people don’t welcome you on other days, but that “that day is [just] more special” and in Guatemala Christmas is especially magical.

Save the Date – GV Welcome Night

Thursday, November 29, 2012

6:30-9 p.m.

Location: TBD


Come out and join M-Bibe and the Global Visionaries community for an evening of music and fun as you meet this year’s incoming program participants!

Parents: mix & mingle with other parents and members of the GV community including staff, interns, volunteers, alumni and more – get to know the people that your students will be working with over the next year.

Everybody else: find out more about GV and our work to empower young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future.

And did we mention there’s going to be awesome music by local musicians involved?

Suggested donation of $10 will go to support ongoing  GV program needs.

About M-Bibe

What We Do

M-bibe builds symbiotic partnerships between Northwest nonprofits, non-traditional venues, and musicians. We bring folks together to network, socialize, and raise money for a good cause while supporting talented, local musicians and their original music.

Why We Do It

We are musicians with a mission.  We care a lot about what’s going on in the world.  We realize nonprofits need funding.  We know music brings people together.  What better way to help nonprofits, support local business and musicians, and build communities by connecting all the dots?​​

Our Story

The co-founders of M-bibe met by chance in the sun-drenched region of Cappadocia in central Turkey in 2010.  Over 6,000 miles from the Northwest, they came to learn that they resided only a few miles from each other in Seattle.  With a variety of similar interests and pursuits, it seemed almost inevitable that a future project would develop between the two.  They kept in touch back in Seattle over the next couple of years and eventually realized the potential for ahigher purpose of their art; M-bibe was born!


Previous event:


Mark Your Calendars: Third Annual GV Founders Club Event, September 29th!

Third Annual Global Visionaries Founders Club Event

Pitch in to support low-income and underserved youth!

At the home of Heide and Matthew Felton
300 Ward Street
Seattle, WA 98109

Saturday, September 29, 2012
6:30  – 8:30 PM


“Meet Today’s Global Leaders”

Come experience an extraordinary interactive evening and presentation.
Find out how you can support the network our youth leaders are building in the Americas
and why these youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but of today.

Included in our special evening:

  •           Networking
  •           Hors d’oeuvres
  •           Beer & Wine
  •           Valet Parking

Our youth leaders will host all aspects of this evening’s program including:

  •           Inspiring testimonials of how Guatemalan and U.S. youth are impacting our communities
  •           Activities uniting youth hosts & guests to explore how to create a just & sustainable future
  •           A short address by Chris Fontana , Global Visionaries co-founder & executive director
  •           An exciting new 3-minute video
  •           Questions & Answers


Have you RSVP’d for the Auction yet? The current price of the tickets is $80 per person.  The price of the tickets go up to $90 per person on April 21st, so be sure to make your reservation right away! Click on the image below to REGISTER NOW!

We have some new and exciting things to share with you this year!

  • We are partnering with NW Wine Cellars to offer an awesome Wine Taste and Buy event.  They will offer 2 handpicked wines from their wonderful selection for our auction, presented with a custom GV label.
  • Everyone wants a GV T-shirt, sweatshirt or hat, right?  Now is your chance to pick one up!!
  • Help build a school classroom or plant a tree!  You can “purchase” a bag of cement, a cinder block or a tree.  The summer cohort will purchase these items in Guatemala and put them to immediate use.

You’ll also have the chance to hear from the Spring cohort and learn all about their experience in Guatemala.  We’ll have AWESOME items to bid on such as a week at a French Villa, a signed Dustin Ackley baseball, tickets to a Sounders Game, tickets to a Mariners game and SO much more!  You have to come see it to believe it!

Come and check it out!!!

Winter Dinner: We came, We Ate, We Raised $9,000

By Reagan Jackson

8 years ago, Bill Taylor, father of former GV participant Sarah, offered to host a dinner to help GV participants raise money to subsidize the cost of their trip to Guatemala.  Since then, Chef Taylor and the staff of the Talaris Conference Center have generously continued to donate their space and time to help other Spring Program participants to fundraise.

On Saturday, February 11, Chef Taylor and the Talaris Center hosted GV students once more, this time for a sold-out Winter Dinner.  Gordy and Zoe Ryan, along with their cohort of drummers provided live music inspired by the Nigerian legend Babatunde Olatunji.  Many dinner guests, including 88 year-old Jordan Cohen, were moved to dance.  Cohen was so inspired, he later gave an impromptu speech lamenting that “as a veteran of WWI, we thought that that war would be the last and yet it wasn’t.” He went on to say that organizations like GV are the only way to ensure a healthy future.  After a rousing raffle and a highly competitive dessert dash featuring some irresistible looking cupcakes, participants raised just under $9,000 . The funds will be equally distributed among each of the 20 Spring Program participants who helped to coordinate the event.

Each Winter Dinner is a little different.  Each cohort selects a theme, music and decorations.  Yet, the result is the same. The GV community grows a little and a new set of students and their families learn that when people choose to make a positive change in their communities, their communities will rise to the occasion and support them.  Winter Dinner began as the contribution of one parent and has since helped almost 170 Seattle teenagers make their way to Guatemala.

At Global Visionaries, we believe that everyone who wants to be a part of the work we do should be able to participate.  Each of us brings to GV our strengths, our passions and all that we are – and that, is what makes us the richly diverse organization that we are.  So, if you have an idea for how to contribute, please contact us at


Some photos from the evening for your enjoyment, courtesy of Haley Neary!

Special Offer From Global Visionaries and Seattle Repertory Theatre!

Lorenzo Pisoni in Humor Abuse

Continuing an eight year partnership, Global Visionaries is again selling discounted tickets to Seattle Repertory Theatre! Enjoy exciting performances at one of Seattle’s most recognized playhouses, while supporting youth empowerment!

Tickets for the 2011-2012 season are just $10 for adults and $5 for students under 25 – a great deal sweetened by the fact that 100% of your ticket price goes to GV scholarship funds!



Clybourne Park

April 20th, 21st, 22nd, or 24th

All shows are at the Bagley Wright Theater at 7:30 pm.  See all of the shows for the cost of one!  View show reviews and descriptions online at

Tickets are limited. To purchase, email Include your name, the date of the show you would like to attend and the number tickets you’d like to buy.  A GV Team Member will follow up to confirm your order and complete payment information.