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Seattle’s First Ambassador Jozlyn Pelk Visits GV in Guatemala

(Left to right) Aurelio Hernandez (GV Staff), Mario Perez (Mayor), Jozlyn Pelk, Translator  (Front left to right) Patricia (Youth 2013), Claudia (GV staff), Sandra (GV staff)
(Left to right) Aurelio Hernandez (GV Staff), Mario Perez (Mayor), Jozlyn Pelk, Translator
(Front left to right) Patricia (Youth Leader), Claudia (GV staff), Sandra (GV staff)

Last Wednesday, Jozlyn Pelk, the first Seattle Ambassador, visited Global Visonaries during her week-long trip to Guatemala, where she met with the mayor of Santa Maria de Jesus, Mario Perez; recent GV Youth Leader Patricia; as well as GV staff Aurelio, Claudia and Sandra.

Jozlyn is a student at University of Washington Bothell (UWB), double-majoring in Law Economic Public Policy and Global Studies with a minor in Human Rights. She was selected as the Seattle Ambassador in June by the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) and the City of Seattle Office of the Mayor, who ran the program for the first time this year.

Sponsored by the program, she embarked on a trip to Guatemala in fall and visited several Seattle-based nonprofit organizations, seeing firsthand their work in the community. She shares details of her experience by writing on her blog, and will be going on local media outlets and attending events to share what she learned about global poverty with the Seattle community.

Jozlyn visited two different GV project sites in Santa Maria, a town just outside of Antigua at the base of the Volcán de Agua in Guatemala, where she saw kids inside the classrooms built by GV volunteers. Santa Maria is one of several towns in which GV is bringing together Guatemalan youth and Seattle youth through leadership development programs and local service projects with a focus on social and environmental justice.

“I was able to visit two schools built by GV Guatemalan and Seattle youth in the towns Cerro del Niño and Santa Maria de Jesus; both remote, impoverished towns that historically have been difficult to access by car due to steep hills, and do not have enough classrooms for its growing population (Santa Maria has over 600 students!). It was incredible to see the culmination of the hard labor of Guatemalan and Seattle students who have come together to share across cultures and give back to their local and global communities through the construction of these schools.

“Seeing the classrooms filled with children, and new classrooms on the way, was heartwarming. Hundreds of children are able to go to school, and communities are able to thrive because of the commitment of Guatemalan and Seattle youth leaders to create social change,” said Jozlyn.

She then joined GV staff Aurelio, Claudia and Sandra, Youth Leader Patricia, and Don. Mario Perez Pio, mayor of Santa Maria de Jesus, for a dialogue on the biggest issues faced by youth in Guatemala, as well as Global Visionaries’ impact in the community by partnering with local municipalities and bringing education and leadership opportunities to young people. GV is currently working in partnership with Mayor Perez and the local government of Santa Maria to construct new classrooms and provide volunteer opportunities for young people.

Jozlyn recalled the conversation on her blog:

“There are many challenges for young people in Guatemala. Many do not have the resources or the opportunity to study past the 6th grade, and must begin working at a young age to support their families. Others in rural communities are not in close proximity to a school, and therefore never receive a formal education.”

Patricia (Pati), graduate of the 2012 intensive leadership program in Santa Maria, also shared her point of view of the challenges youth in her community face when it comes to education, especially girls.

“Young people are oppressed and cannot speak their minds; girls in particular are told they cannot go to school because you’re a girl,” said Pati.

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Jozlyn wrote about her exchange with Pati and Sandra:

“(They) both emphasized GV’s vital role in creating a safe environment for young women and men to grow, not only by providing opportunities and infrastructure like the classrooms built by Seattle and Guatemalan youth volunteers, but also the space and community to talk about racism and sexism with other youth.

“I was most inspired by Sandra’s story about her personal experience with overcoming discrimination, as an indigenous woman who was expected to support her family rather than continue to go to school (families not recognizing the importance of investing in their child’s education is something I have heard consistently throughout the week). In pursuit of her dream of finishing school, Sandra left for Antigua where she faced racism and sexism in another way – being isolated for wearing indigenous dress. Sandra and Pati both stressed the importance of Global Visionaries’ programs providing the space and community to talk about racism and sexism with other youth.”

For the full story, visit Jozlyn’s blog at http://www.seattleambassador.org/featured/

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In Pictures: Open House Highlights

Hi everyone!

GV would like to thank you all for attending the Open House and making it a huge success. We had a good turnout, the coffee tasted great, our guests had a good time and GV’s new campaigns got off to a flying start!

In additional to the beloved coffee tasting, delicious food and photo exhibitions, GV introduced the Sustainers Circle, a new monthly giving campaign, last night at the Open House. Parents, donors and GV supporters can now enjoy peace of mind by signing up for an automated monthly gift at various levels. The Sustainers Circle makes a huge difference by sustaining the positive impact that GV has on our youth, our community and our world.

We also promoted the Parent Network, a platform for parents to get to know other parents and discuss what our students are learning at GV. It aims at building a strong community to connect parents for carpooling, organizing volunteering for events, and providing support to new parents. The Parent Network will gather at local restaurants or the Global Visionaries office during student events.

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Highlights of the Global Visionaries Open House 2013

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Words from Youth: My Host Brother

Reforestation 2013

By Kito, 16 from Ballard High School

June 27, 2013

Last week I could solemnly swear that I didn’t like children. I didn’t like the way they smelled, the way they were always dirty, and especially the way they complained. That is until I met David.

For the first day that my housemate and I returned from a hard day’s work, David was waiting for us with an enormous grin on his face. We hadn’t seen him the night before because we had just arrived in Guatemala and it was very late, so David was fast asleep. This day however, David was wide awake and ready to hang out with us. When we walked through the door, David excitedly shouted “hola!” and brought us to the living room. He sat us down on the couch next to each other and proceeded to jump onto our laps and sit right between us both, with one leg on top of my leg, and the other on top of my housemates.

Seven year old David had not known me for more than 45 seconds, but already we both knew we were going to get along just fine. At first I assumed that all of the kids here were going to be brats, but I learned that I was dead wrong. At one time during the work hours, there was a very large hill that we had to walk over to get to our site. I quickly exclaimed, “ay carumba” because I was taking a heavy box of trees up to our worksite, and a bunch of kids heard me. Without hesitation a posse of children offered to take all of my stuff up the mountain purely out of the goodness of their hearts. These actions that I witnessed absolutely changed my opinion of people younger than me, and I have David to thank for opening my eyes.

New Faces at Global Visionaries!

Please join us in welcoming new staff and interns at Global Visionaries!

 Amy Maguire, Development ManagerAmy

Amy Maguire has been a fan of Global Visionaries since she was first introduced in the summer of 2004, while working as the Director of Community Development at the Seattle based non-profit Arts Corps, where she started as a founding staff member in 2001.

Most recently, she comes to us from New York, where she spent the last 8 years as the Director of Development and producer for Triple Threat TV, a documentary film and television company (shout out to TTT!!). During her years in New York, she kept her eye on GV and during a trip to Guatemala with friends last year, ended up spending the day with the GV staff in Antigua.  Her passion ignited, she was delighted when the position for Development Manager became available and is thrilled to be part of this incredible team. “It is a privilege to support this mission!”

AngieAngie Marshall, Youth Board Coordinator

Angie is a Maine native who moved to Seattle in September to begin her 2012-13 Americorps Volunteer position as the Global Visionaries Youth Board Coordinator. In May 2012, Angie completed her MS in Environmental Science and Policy from Clark University in Worcester, MA.  She did extensive research on Green “Cluster” Development as a Research Assistant and as the Program Coordinator at the environmental non-profit The Institute for Energy & Sustainability. During her undergrad at Clark she worked at the Boys and Girls Club as the Athletics Assistant and was a research assistant at Harvard Forest.

Outside of GV, Angie enjoys soccer, lacrosse, water skiing, reading, hiking, cooking and exploring. She studied abroad in Costa Rica, road-tripped the Northwest coast, visited Spain and Greece, and has spent a month travelling around Peru. Her favorite place to be, and where she’s created her best memories and friendships is at her family’s cabin on a lake in NH. While in Washington, Angie’s trying to brush up on her Spanish language and to discover the natural beauty of the Northwest. She’s excited for the relationships and personal growth she has already gained and will continue to gather as part of the GV team!

KennaKenna Stout, PR & Communications Intern

Born in Los Angeles, Kenna Stout settled in Seattle two years ago, following a four-year stint in Olympia at the Evergreen State College. Over the years, she has worked for social justice, youth empowerment, poverty action, advocacy for the homeless and education.  Kenna currently works with children under five years old and wanted to intern with GV’s PR and communications team as the mission resonates with her. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in communication in the near future.

Kenna is an avid food blog reader, gluten free baker and experimental cook.  She also loves Chinese dim sum! Vegetarians may find it disturbing that she is enamored with cooking every inch of an animal. As an ex-vegan, she also makes a great vegan meal and loves playing with the textures and flavors of vegetables. Just don’t ask her to eat cinnamon! “I hope over the next coming months you enjoy reading GV’s blog and newsletter!”

SarahSara Metheny, Office Manager

Sara Metheny is a 2010 graduate of UC Berkeley where she focused on international development issues. Sara is very passionate about getting young people excited about global issues. You will often find her at thefront desk at Global Visionaries or running around solving problems in the office. Sara’s interests include biking, photography and philosophy and she has a strong penchant for sarcasm.


TiffanyTiffany Lumley, Assistant Program Manager

Originally from Plymouth, Michigan, Tiffany got connected with Global Visionaries through a volunteer program. She is continually energized by GV’s mission to inspire youth to seek justice in their daily lives both in their communities and abroad. Resonating with the idea that education can inspire change, she has truly valued the opportunity to co-facilitate the Pro Justice team and learn from their commitment to social change.

Growing up in a bicultural household, Tiffany has always appreciated experiences that challenge her worldview and perspective. Tiffany graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan with a BA in Psychology and Spanish and a minor in Organizational Leadership. When she is not at GV, you will find Tiffany outside (even after four months on the West Coast she continues to be mesmerized by the beauty of the mountains), exploring new places and in conversation with anyone.

“I am honored to be a part of the GV family this year as we continue to explore youth leaders to look beyond our immediate circumstances and grow in our global citizenship.”

A New Year, a New Group of Young Leaders

For some people, fall is about enjoying pumpkin spice lattes and jumping in piles of rust-colored leaves in the backyard.  Or pulling out scarves, hats and gloves from dusty corners of the closet and praying that the moths didn’t get to them over the summer.  For Global Visionaries, it’s about pulling out all the stops and keeping things fresh while we focus almost singularly on one endeavor: recruiting.

250 presentations in 3 weeks across 25 high schools between Kent and Port Townsend means we had over 2500 phone calls to make to prospective applicants to our First Year Leadership & Intensive programs this year.  Impossible?  Not when you have the support of our amazing GV community: over 2000 hours were put into the monumental feat that is GV recruiting season during the last few weeks by Youth Board, parents, teachers, volunteers, interns, board members and staff.

What makes it all worth it? 

Our program participants come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and about half of them are students of color.  Some of the languages you may hear spoken at our Culture Nights throughout the program year between parents and their students include those from Southeast Asia, East Africa, Eastern Europe as well as Spanish and of course, English.

“Every year, we witness first-hand families who are passionate about the GV experience and desire for their children to be a part of this program, but struggle to make it a reality financially,” says Mario Flores, GV program outreach manager.  Over 180 applications (and counting) have been received so far at this point and nearly 60% of these were accompanied by requests for financial aid.  In spite of the tough economic environment and resulting strain on traditional funding sources, GV awarded $115,000 in program scholarships for 2012-2013, up over 22% from $90,065 in program year 2011-2012.

At GV, we strive to make our programs available to all youth who desire to see a positive change in their community regardless of their financial situation.  We look forward to a future when all young people may participate in our programs without money being the primary barrier.  After all, Mario says, “we are not just recruiting participants to travel to Guatemala.  We are working to build a community that thinks actively and continues to challenge social and environmental injustices in our global community.”

Find out more about what’s new at GV by following us on our blog and on Facebook.  Or make a contribution and help support today’s global leaders.

What is Culture Night?

By Noel Chapman

What exactly is Culture Night?  As a brand new intern here at Global Visionaries, I had no idea what to expect when I attended the first Culture Night for the participants in the First Year Leadership Program as it was my first Culture Night too.  Was it an introduction to Guatemalan culture?  Was it a time to discuss cultural issues in general?  Was it simply an informational session held once a month with a catchy title?  I found that the answer was not as simple as I had thought.

Youth Board member Laura Bedalov explained that Culture Night is where “participants discuss the goals they have for the trip.  They learn what to expect and talk about cultural differences.”  She said that this all makes students “more comfortable on the trip.”

Hannah Malham, another Youth Board member, said that the first Culture Night is where students and parents get the “basic information of the whole program.”  On other Culture Nights, Hannah went on to say, the students “learn about cultural injustices and about their group that they will be going on the trip with.”

Culture Night is in fact a time where participants are introduced to Guatemalan culture, where they discuss cultural issues and get information on the trip.  All of my first assumptions seem to be correct.  However, I think Tiffany Lumley, GV assistant program manager, hit on an element of Culture Night that is not as easy to explain or see, but an element that is extremely important.

Culture Night is where the first year students and parents get introduced to the culture of GV itself.  As Tiffany put it, they get to see “how people think in GV” and are exposed to GV’s “very strong culture.”  From the first “¡Buenas noches!,” the participants are inundated with the strong energy and confidence that is prolific in GV.

As I was standing in the first meeting room waiting for the official program to begin, Chris Fontana, GV executive director, asked the group to raise their hands if they were going on the Summer Trip and then if they were going on the Spring Trip.  However, he didn’t just ask them to raise their hands, but told them that there are no bent elbows at GV.  Their hands had to be straight up in the air.  When I saw that, I was shocked, but I soon learned that that’s just how GV does things.  That was GV’s culture.

From the very beginning, GV expects their participants to come energized, confident, and ready and willing to participate.  Though raising your hand with no bent elbow may be a small demonstration of this, it was evidence enough for me.  These are both crucial and rare qualities of a good leader, something more high school students should be learning.  From my perspective, GV’s introduction to its own culture during Culture Nights is the first step in “empowering young people” as the mission states.

Come experience what the first year participants do during some of their Culture Nights by joining us at GV’s Diversity Training workshop in December. Register and learn more.

Greetings from New GV Intern Noel Chapman

Hello Global Visionaries community!

Noel SmilingMy name is Noel Chapman, and I am GV’s newest Communications & PR Intern.  I am here with a group of students from the Matteo Ricci College in Seattle University.  We are all majoring in the Bachelor of Arts and Humanities for Leadership Studies (long, I know).

“What is that?” you may ask. Well, it’s brand new and one of a few majors of its kind. The BAHL, as we call it, studies leadership theory and philosophy as well as those practical skills that all leaders should have.  This has included classes from Humanistic Foundations for Leadership to Public Speaking.  This major is directly related to accomplishing Seattle University’s goal of “empowering leaders for a just and humane world”, something that complements GV’s mission quite nicely.

One requirement for this major is a local internship during your sophomore year, hence why I am here.  I am so excited to become a part of the GV community and to really learn what it takes for an organization like GV to thrive and grow, while hopefully learning some good office skills along the way.  GV already seems like such a welcoming organization that I cannot wait to delve into the work waiting for me here.

As a Communications & PR Intern, I will be helping with the Global e-Vista, editing the PR Policy, and assisting in any way the Communications & PR Team needs me to.  I was placed in this position because I have an interest in Marketing and am planning on getting a minor in it.

When I am not in school or working with GV, I am most likely trying to balance self-care and my job as a Resident Assistant in one of the dorms at Seattle University (Go Campion 2!).  I love going to any little café in Seattle and hanging out with my friends and residents whenever I get a chance.

In the future, I plan on becoming a lawyer.  This has been my goal for years, and so far, it continues to be.  I am extremely passionate about the topic of human trafficking and would love to work with any of the organizations that are out there fighting it.  This internship experience will provide me, in more ways than one, with some much needed experience and skill-building for my all my future plans.

My internship lasts until the end of Spring Quarter (June 2013), so I will hopefully be spending lots of time here. If you see me in the office, please say hello; I would love to talk to you.

Noel

GV Auction 2012 – Video Slideshow!

This video slideshow features photos from Global Visionaries’ Fiesta de Guatemala 2012 fundraiser. Highlights include the Dessert Dash, live and silent auctions and the friendships created amongst the GV community. With over 400 items in the silent auction, 22 items sold in the live auction, as well as a large turnout of guests, staff and students, Fiesta de Guatemala was a definite success this year!

We at GV would like to thank:

  • The parents that helped on the night of the event:
    • Lisa Dennison
    • The Naders
    • Tom Robinson
    • Christi Gelder
  • Everyone that donated desserts for the dessert dash
  • GV 2011-12 Students and parents for all of the procuring they did for the auction and all of the hard work on the day and night of the auction
  • GV Interns for photography, baking desserts, helping out, and generally being COOL!!!
  • GV Staff for being AWESOME!

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!

First Summer Trip 2012 Update

Saludos desde San Miguel,

As day four concludes, rain beats down on the roof of the GV office. Our boots are dirty. Many of us are sporting blisters from a productive morning of reforestation in Cerro Del Niño. It has been a gorgeous four days. We arrived in Guatemala City with the majority of our boxes (the remaining ones have been located!) and drove back through a darkened country side to our homestays. Arriving at night meant that participants had their first real glimpse of Guatemala first thing in the morning.

Though exhausted, I was up with the roosters (literally), breathing in the fresh air and marveling once more at the simple beauty of the mountains at sunrise. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, black beans, and fried plantains I headed down to the GV office where the Gringo participants and the Chapin participants met for the first time. In a departure from our usual itinerary we grouped up and went to the Garbage dump all together. For many of our Guatemalan participants, this was their first time visiting the dump which made the experience that much richer. After lunch with our homestay families,we visited Antigua to exchange money and then it was time to rest a bit.

The next day we jumped right into work. The Hospital work team headed to Antigua to meet their patients while Construction and Reforestation drove even further up into the mountains near Cerro Del Nino. Cero Del Nino is the site of a school GV built several years ago, so already we felt a sense of accomplishment and an excitement for things to come. This trip the Construction work team will be building a community center so that everyone in Cerro Del Nino will finally have a place to meet.

I am on the Reforestation team. We started our work day by walking up a huge paved hill. If I ever had any illusion about being in good shape, they are gone now, but we did all make it. There we took a moment to refill our water and play some games to help us get to know our Chapin counterparts. Many of the Chapin students have been volunteering with GV all year on different work teams so it was nice to see some old faces mixed in with the new. There was that first few awkward moments, but soon everyone was chatting in Spanish, laughing, and playing hand clapping games. Then we gathered our tools and more water and hiked up into the woods where we are clearing some brush before we plant 700 trees. One of our goals in planting these trees is to prevent erosion. Last Summer while we were here there was a huge down pour that caused a landslide in Pastores that knocked down 60 homes. Hopefully we can help prevent that from happening again.

All in all everyone is doing well, eating good food, making friends, and really make the best of this adventure. After work we had lunch and then it was on to our first day of school at La Union in Antigua. To celebrate our arrival all 40 teachers that will be working with us formed a human tunnel and clapped for us as we entered. Then we formed a circle and did short introductions before everyone paired up with their teachers for their first lessons. So many firsts…and yet for many it seems like they’ve been here before. In my next update I will share some exerpts from the LOD journals, but for now I will leave you with 3 poems written during our poetry session this afternoon.

Reagan Jackson
Program Manager

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Untitled Poem
by Torin Frost

In this world of ours there’s few things that we need.
To drink and to sleep, and also to feed.
And the water we need simply flls from the sky,
but this only makes me wonder – why?

Does the sky cry for people who need clean water?
To the mothers and fathers, for their son and their daughter?
Or is it something else – involving moisture and science,
or a gift from God
it’s a necessity
our reliance.

But there’s a defiance to this system, it’s giant corporations.
Exporting to nations and having celebrations,
for profit these days seems to come before people.
And these people have the nerve to say everyone is equal.

Well, we’re not.

Because if rain is free, then why does water cost o much money?
And land and food, I thought it belonged to the Earth,
but money is needed the second after birth.
And if it rained everyday, water still wouldn’t be free,
not even to people like you and me,
because there’s something that comes before us,
and I hate to see,
if only it was us that came before money.

 

Happiness
by Cora Wolken

I don’t know what happiness is.
I see it everywhere I go.
The ones with nothing have the most.
Why is that? Does money really not buy happiness?
I walk around here today
everyone has a smile, a spark to their eyes
they have a skip to their walk
a laughter to their voice. I know they are happy.
What does it take to be happy though?
I can’t just put on a smile and
add a skip to my walk, I am not happy.
I want an inner happiness
the one I see in the who appreciate,
the ones who don’t want more
but are content with just being there today
they know things happen for a reason
even though the reason is unknown.
Someone who is happy is someone I envy..


Untitled Poem
by Angela Tang

We chop down trees
We plant more
We run out of toothpaste
We buy more
We run out of ideas
We think more
We run out of space
We move more.
But what happens when we run out,
out of space, out of ideas, out of toothpaste, out of trees.
Will the sun suddenly explode to create new life again?
Or would we finally stop?

 

 

¡Por fin! – Teacher Katie Wallace Weighs in on GV & Guatemala

Katie Wallace teaches Spanish at Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle and will be one of two area high school teachers who will be leading the Summer Trip (June 27-July 12).  Stay tuned for photos and updates from Guatemala!

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¡Por fin! At last I will have the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with GV! I have dreamed of this trip ever since I worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Noah Zeichner’s Spanish classroom at Chief Sealth four years ago. It is hard to believe that three weeks from today I get to travel to Guatemala and serve alongside my own students from Sealth.

Why Guatemala and why GV? I love Spanish – the language and the people who speak it and the cultures in which it is spoken. As a Korean-American adoptee, I often surprise people (including my students and colleagues) with my love and knowledge of the Spanish language. My father is half-Mexican, so Mexican culture has always been a part of my life. My passion for social justice and my love for baseball have been driving forces in my longtime interest in Latin America. I can’t wait to experience Central America!

I love the energy and the grassroots feel of Global Visionaries. Chris is passionate, genuine and serious about his belief in young people’s capacity to learn, lead and love. Watching the students step out of their comfort zones, open their minds and facilitate meaningful dialogue impresses and inspires me.

Being immersed in Guatemalan culture, serving alongside locals and living with a Guatemalan family for two weeks – what an opportunity! This is beyond what we can ever offer within classroom walls during a normal school year. I am most excited about witnessing the participants’ growth as language learners and as human beings.

Encountering cultural differences is beautiful, challenging and rewarding. We are incredibly fortunate to have this experience ahead of us, one that will challenge our views, open our minds and undoubtedly impact the way we live. I look forward to working alongside my students, not just as a teacher, but as an adult participant with just as much to learn. I look forward to the tough questions, the “aha!” moments and the joys that come from building unexpected relationships.