“After having gone on the program and the trip, whenever I go walk around in Seattle, I notice things that I wouldn’t have usually noticed. I could be walking down the street, and I could see homeless people in a whole other view. I feel like there’s this system of inequality in everything. Before, I would have not seen that. I would’ve just seen a homeless person asking for money. I feel like I have the power to impact the world and that I should strive to do that”
IN ONE WORD, WHAT DO YOU FEEL NOW YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF GV?
I’m a high school junior and I serve on the Global Visionaries (GV) Youth Board. Specifically, I’m an immersion leader. I go down to Guatemala as a resource and role model for the first-year participants. When I went to Guatemala as a first-year participant,I watched myself and everyone around me grow, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that again.My leadership role now is very meaningful to me. I try my best to be a source of knowledge and a good role model for the new participants It’s a lot of pressure to always demonstrate the right things to do, but that’s what leadership means to me.
I was so shy when I joined GV. I remember attending my first GV Culture Night and just standing alone in a corner because I was afraid to let other people see who I really was. Slowly I started to take to heart GV’s mantra, which is to get out of your comfort zone, and I began to be myself, which allowed me to get close to the other participants. Now I bring so much more confidence to every activity I do, whether it’s wrestling, math class, or just interacting with new people.
After experiencing the program, I started noticing things I wouldn’t have noticed before. I might see a homeless person while walking down the street. Before, I would have just seen someone asking me for money. Now I recognize a whole system of inequality and it prompts me to think about how I can make a positive impact. The old me might have put a few coins in the cup and then forgotten about it. But now I feel that I absolutely have to take it further and do my part to change the world.
I was a recipient of a scholarship, and that was a huge decision factor for me. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to join GV and go to Guatemala. The support of the donors let me have this incredible experience. It’s been so eye-opening for me, and I’m forever indebted to the people who helped me in this personal transformation. Thank you.
With summer winding down and a fresh school year rapidly approaching, teachers across the state are working to fine-tune curriculum and establish educational goals for the year ahead. As part of this preparatory process, nearly twenty educators traveled from all corners of Puget Sound and beyond in early August, to participate in the very first Global Leadership Summer Institute.
One participant emphasizes the positive impact of the Summer Institute’s content on their existing teaching plan:
“It was really great to revisit my plan for the beginning of the school year in the context of the Institute and in conversation with others. I was able to strengthen the beginning of my year and add rich flavors that I otherwise would have missed out on.”
Another participant asserts,
“This is what I came to learn. I am excited to implement these tools in my classroom.”
Facilitated by Global Visionaries Executive Director, Chris Fontana, and experienced global educators, Vicki Weeks and Noah Zeichner, this weeklong program was created as a result of the enthusiastic response to last year’s single day workshop.
About the Summer Institute
The Summer Institute provides educators from all backgrounds with the tools and techniques to cultivate a climate of mutual respect and shared ownership, in which student leaders become engaged global leaders, both in and out of the classroom. The Institute is interactive and allows participants to collaborate with each other, discuss the pedagogies presented to them, and practice their implementation throughout the course of the workshop. At the end of their weeklong experience, educators come away with a myriad of ideas and resources to bring back to their school and fold in to their current pedagogical practices.
The Institute from GV offers educators professional development in the field of global studies and youth leadership.
Presentations and discussions center on how to engage youth in social and environmental issues pertinent to our culture today.
With a combination of face-to-face training and mentorship, the Institute demonstrates how to develop an atmosphere of youth entrepreneurship and leadership amongst student bodies.
Outcomes for teachers returning to their classrooms include the opportunity to lead school transformation through global awareness, volunteerism, and youth led initiatives.
By Marita Phelps, Global Visionaries Program Manager
On a typical morning, like today in San Miguel Escobar, one would hear various types of birds singing among rooster crowings, firework explosions here and there celebrating birthdays, and the cathedral bells that fill the town each hour of the day. Mostly cloudy, the sun will shine for several hours and heavy rain has been normal in the late afternoons and evenings. Today the group visited the Maya ruins at Iximche in Tecpan which was a change of pace and scenery from the work week. Usually, students will go to their prospecive work sites in the mornings, have a siesta or break at home with their families in the afternoon, go to school and then come together as a whole with the group for salsa or reflection.
There were many breakthroughs throughout the work week. One of the most popular was “the language barrier.” Most students soon found language was not a barrier at all, especially with the help of their teachers at school. One student said:
“It was very validating to have a two hour conversation with a native speaker and I immediately felt so comfortable, as my many language barrier worries floated away.”
Students have shown positive leadership by becoming quickly immersed into the culture, stepping out of their comfort zones and making an effort to connect with Guatemalans regardless of how much spanish they previously knew.
Many students are working harder than they ever have in their lives, especially since more than half of the students are doing physical labor. Working at these sites gives the students a chance to see how most of the world makes a living as well as the strength and resilience it takes to get through day after day. In order for youth to properly lead the world towards a just and sustainable future it helps for them to experience global injustices first! Working with the Chapines, or the Guatemalan student counterparts, is one of the most important parts of the cultural immersion experience. This is one of the many ways the US students, or gringos, learn how to work side by side with other youth to seek alternative and innovative approaches to the problems facing their generation. A student from the reforestation team said:
“It was pretty satisfying to hear that we had planted over 300 trees, and not one complaint while doing so, I was really proud of everybody on the reforestation team for several reasons. One of these reasons was that nobody complained about the very long and steep hike to the worksite, and everyone volunteered to carry something. I was also really proud of our workteam because when I looked around there were gringos working with chapines. There weren’t two separate groups. Everyone was working and talking together.”
We have had several reflections thus far and there are several more to come. In the first reflection, which happened in workteams, it was obvious that there was a lot on everyone’s mind but perhaps not enough words to articulate those thoughts and feelings. Although reluctant, some shared and others just listened deeply nodding in agreeance at their peers experience. By the first large group reflection, more than half of the particpants offered their insight about their time in Guatemala. A mixed bag of emotions like sadness, appreciation, anger, and empathy, caused many of them to cry. Some admitted that they had never before been so introspective or emotionally intelligent as they have been here and now. A hospital student said:
“After everyday here I grow more homesick because being here makes me so appreciative of what I have at home. And I wish I could see my mom and daddy to tell them exactly how thankful I am for everything they’ve done and sacrificed simply so can have the best life and the endless opportunities I have now.”
As we reach the end of our time here in Guatemala, the vast inner growth of each student leader shines outwardly and yet there is still much to gain and growth to witness even in the last days.
The Global Visionaries Youth Board and 110 Consulting co-hosted 12 fundraising dinners for their friends and families on March 9 and 16. All funds raised will support program scholarships for students in our First Year Leadership Program and ensure theaccessibility of our programs to all students in the Greater Seattle area.
Youth Board is a group of 35 students who have completed our First Year Leadership Program and are continuing their involvement with GV as leaders and mentors to first year participants. The Come to the Table dinners this year were a remarkable success! In addition to funding 15 program scholarships, they’re also an opportunity for YB members to grow as leaders and expand the GV community by sharing our mission with new audiences.
110 Consulting, a Puget Sound-based business and technology consulting firm, has partnered with GV as our technology advisors and as co-hosts of our Come to the Table fundraiser. The owners, Dan Kearney, Kyle Katt and Heinrich Montana challenged the YB to reach their goal through a generous matching donation of up to $10,000!
Our fundraising goal was $10,200 for this year. The Youth Board and their guests took the challenge head-on and more than doubled the goal by raising $21,500! In addition to the $10,000 matching gift from the owners, 110 Consultant guests contributed an additional $1,800, for a grand total of $33,300 raised!
GV is extremely grateful for all involved, the Youth Board, 110 Consulting, guests and staff. With the next cohort of participants on the horizon, the security of scholarships and two years of Come to the Table events under our belts, we are looking forward an even more successful year to come!
“I felt a great sense of accomplishment from Come to the Table because I was able to help create opportunities for others to participate in GV, which for me was a life-changing experience.” Michael Cannon, Youth Board Member.
“Meeting people who were interested in giving to a program that gave me so much was incredible. Talking about GV is always enjoyable, but knowing that it was going to give someone else a chance to experience what I experienced made it all that much better, especially since I went on a full scholarship.” Annie Chan, Youth Board Member.
“Throwing events is something I thoroughly enjoy doing, especially if I am passionate about the cause and the people. Both of these were true so enjoying the entire event was great. I really enjoyed GV and the youth were awesome.” David Goecke, 110 Consulting.
“I was blown away by the dedication of the Youth Board and 110 throughout the entire process. The youth are the face of GV and a clear manifestation of how GV provides an incredible experience for young people. GV is able to open their eyes to the global community and to instill an interest and passion to make the world a better place. GV is a rare and wonderful opportunity for young people and one that’s helping to create a generation that cares.” Angie Marshall, Global Visionaries Youth Board Coordinator.
Global Visionaries’ Spring Trip is coming up soon; April 6th to the 19th to be exact! This trip is another way that GV accomplishes its mission of empowering future leaders through service and cultural learning. It offers activities such as coffee farm work, construction building classrooms, working at a local hospital, and Spanish language class. In order to fully immerse themselves in the culture, the participants will be living with local families, working alongside Guatemalan youth that are a part of GV Guatemala, and hopefully see some historical landmarks.
But this is GV, right? So, enough about the details and let’s hear from one of our participants: one of today’s global leaders. I asked participant Fiona Carlile who attends West Seattle High School to share with me some of her thoughts as she prepares to leave for Guatemala.
Q: What are you most excited about for the trip?
Fiona: I’m excited to build relationships with the people at the hospital and with the other people on my work team. I want to bond with the people there even if I can’t speak Spanish.
Q: What are you nervous about?
Fiona: I’m nervous about the fact that I can’t speak Spanish. I’m nervous I won’t be able to communicate with my host family and build relationships.
Q: How has the experience been so far?
Fiona: It’s been really good! I’m amazed I’ve really gotten to know everyone on the team and in the GV Family. I feel a lot better about the trip now that I know everyone.
There’s one look at what’s racing through a participant’s mind as they prepare to go on the culminating trip to Guatemala. The changes that have already begun to take form in these young leaders and the things they have learned so far are about to be put to the test during the Spring Trip to Guatemala, and most of them cannot wait. Let’s continue to support them in their endeavor as the trip gets closer and closer! We are planning on keeping you up to date with the participants while they’re in Guatemala so be sure to visit and bookmark the GV blog or like the GV Facebook page.
I am so inspired by the words of Samrawit Zeinu, a senior at Chief Sealth International High School, who has grown through Global Visionaries for three years.
I am asking you to read about her GV experience in her own words and then partner with us to empower another young leader like Samrawit today by making a gift – whether it is $10 or $100 – to empower a young person today.
Through the hospital volunteer work I did, I learned that material wealth is not important. It is who I am and what my beliefs are that are important. Before GV, I didn’t have confidence. When I faced problems, I kept to myself. After GV, not only did I have more confidence in myself but I am also more assertive. I am more open to feedback and I am able to speak about how I feel. I learned that the way issues turn out depend on my reactions to them. That made me want to change how I reacted to things.
GV changed my outlook on the world – how I perceive things should be. It hit me at my core.
It has been three years since I completed the [First Year GV Leadership Program] but the values I learned are still strong inside of me. If I catch myself complaining, I remember my brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and my friends in Guatemala don’t have enough. I now hold myself accountable. Before when I thought about home, Ethiopia, I thought of my family. Now, when I think of my country, I think of its problems on a global scale. As a matter of fact, I think about countries all around the world. GV has made me want to contribute to the country that has made me the person I am. I intend to become a cardiovascular surgeon with Doctors Without Borders. I want to give those countries the voice they deserve.
Global Visionaries, much more than just another cultural immersion program, provides the educational and leadership platform enabling youth to develop the necessary skills to change their own habits and to transform their local and global communities through social entrepreneurship. Please give online now or mail a check to:
Global Visionaries 2524 16th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144
I am so grateful for your continued support. I wish you and your family a joyful 2013.
p.s. you can also see Samrawit’s full speech on video
Christopher Fontana, Executive Director
Saludos desde San Miguel,The last few days have been very chill. The night rains have made for great sleep. Saturday we had the coffee tour, where my work team was able to talk about what they’d learned about the process of growing, harvesting and selling coffee. Then in the afternoon we shared an excellent group reflection followed by some gorgeous poetry which I hope will become a part of the first ever GV poetry anthology. We have a few sick kids, there is a cold going around and of course some stomach issues, but nothing serious that can’t be cured by sleep and plain rice. Sunday the group went to the ruins of Iximche everyone seems in good spirits.
As you know, each year a few students from Youth Board are selected to become junior leaders. They attend some culture nights and the retreat and they work with Mary Dalton and myself to learn about what GV leadership requires. Then they accompany us on the trip as facilitators. This trip I am privileged to be working with Erica, Emma, and Lena. I’ve asked them each to write a little something so you could see the trip through their eyes:
Emma: I first traveled to Guatemala with GV three years ago, when I was a freshman in high school. When I first found out that I would be returning this year as a student leader, I was overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness; the only way I knew how to organize my emotions was to treat this year’s trip as an experiment. Like any good lab test, I had controlled and manipulated variables (I chose to again work on the Café work team, but I was three years older), a guiding question (“How will I respond to the exact same information for a second time?”), and what I believed was a firmly cemented hypothesis (“I will respond the exact same way, possibly/probably more mildly than before.”) Although I was thrilled for the backbreaking farm work, longed to expand my Spanish knowledge, and yearned for the self-transformation I had undergone three years earlier, I generally expected that this trip wouldn’t force me out of a well-groomed comfort zone for a second time. In fact, I was confident that I’d already broken any such zone.
Immediately upon our arrival in Guatemala, I knew I had been naïve and self-absorbed in my theories about this trip. It wasn’t at all easy to herd the group from gate to baggage claim to bus, actions that only required clear directions. I suddenly found myself unsure of how to balance being a friend and an enforcer, nervous around the group and fumbling with my directions. This was going to be so much harder than I thought.
More than my internal, melodramatic “action!” campaigns about local farming and innate imperialism, I’ve learned so much from this group of participants. I never thought I’d be softly encouraging rather than yelling at people to get work done. I never thought I’d receive a piece of information I didn’t question and criticize. This group is never cynical, never overly heady about everything they’re learning – they stay positive and upbeat; at the core they’re just an extraordinarily caring, inclusive group. I feel so honored to have worked with all of them, especially those on my work team, shout out to Café, for being so happy while working so hard. I had always thought the two were mutually exclusive.
In sum, I can’t believe how wrong I was two weeks ago when I assumed this trip would affect me the same way it did last time. And in wondering why my hypothesis was so far off, I’ve found that I conveniently left the people out of the equation. Somehow I overlooked that by being with different people, I’d learn something beautiful and new from each of them. I have been so, so shaken by this experience-by the language, the information, the work, the Guatemalan people, by yes, the food, but mostly by the kids-and I am infinitely lucky to have travelled this spring with GV. This time, I’m not dreading returning home because “my parents aren’t as nice as my homestay family,” or “my friends won’t understand.” This time I’m empowered to return more patient and focused on the love I need to repair.
Erica: I was so ready to just to go back to Guatemala. When I found out that I was going back in September, I was looking forward to it and would think about it almost every single day. My responsibility as a Junior Leader was nothing like I imagined it to be. I thought I would just be another facilitator of the group and have the privilege of experiencing that same things that I got to experience last year as a participant. But little did I know this trip would become another great growing experience for me.
I find myself being shaped by the whole experience once again, though in ways that I didn’t expect. On my first day in the hospital, I was scared because the last time we went to the hospital I cried my eyes out. It was so hard for me, but as a leader I knew had to be brave in order to help my group do their best. So I encouraged them to take risks and I let go of my own fear so that they would let go of theirs and soon we were all working with patients and it just felt so good to know I helped create their positive experiences.
By the participants that I’ve witnessed grow, the chapines I’ve connected with, the staff I’ve gotten closer to and just being moved by the simple things here in Guatemala. Knowing my potential as a participant and just being able to lead this year has given me more that I could have ever expected. Not only has working in the hospital stretched my comfort zone once again, leading the participants, both the gringos and the chapines has allowed me to learn more about myself and allowed me to blossom in so many other ways. I love being able to plead them and mentor them and know that they are going to be the ones that will make our community and even this world a better place. I absolutely love it here.
Especially with it being my senior year, it’s nice to be reminded of how much I’ve grown because of being a part of GV. GV has had such a great influence in my life and I know for a fact I would not be the young empowered passionate woman I am today. Going to Guatemala once more has not only reminded me that this once in a lifetime experience is worth so much, but it has also allowed me to rediscover myself once again and is the center of my inspiration to step up and leave a positive mark in this world.
Lena: As excited as I was to return to Guatemala, the place where I had experienced the 15 most fun and meaningful days of my life, I could not ignore the nerves I was feeling before the trip. Even the first night in Guatemala, after a stressful travel day, I went to bed nervous for the weeks ahead. I felt so much pressure to exceed the expectations of the adult leaders and to make this a smooth, enjoyable experience for everyone. Yet I was not sure how to accomplish this. After the first full day, however, my worried had been put to rest, and I felt infinitely more confident and excited for the next day. With each day that passed, I grew more inspired and motivated by the group, by what we were learning, and by the memories we were all creating. Construction was hard work from day one, but my team kept up the positive energy and worked through the hot sun.
Communication with the chapines on our team also seemed to improve every day until we were all laughing together and playing jokes on one another. I was no longer nervous for each work day, but excited to work hard and see what memories will be made. But by the time the weekend arrived, I think everyone, gringo and chapine alike, needed some time to sleep and rest.
On Saturday, we had an interesting tour of the process of producing coffee followed by a beautiful poetry session. Then, on Sunday, all of the gringos and chapines headed to the Mayan ruins of Iximche where we learned about the Guatemalan Civil War and spent time relaxing and bonding with one another. Monday was another relaxing day; in the afternoon we watched a documentary about the Guatemalan Civil War then held a conversation about US imperialism. For me, and for many of the other participants, these three days were an important time to think critically about the injustices in Guatemala and our role in the world as US citizens.
With five full days ahead of us, this experience is far from over. But I can already feel the impact that this experience is having on me. I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to return to Guatemala a second time and to be able to experience these 15 days with a truly amazing group of young people. One of my favorite parts of this journey has been witnessing the transformations of the participants.
Just to name a few, Izet has stepped way beyond her comfort zone and shows no hesitance to dance in the bus, to translate a lesson into Spanish for the group, or to strike up conversations with chapines. Aside from that, she works unbelievably hard at the construction site. Thomas has also amazed me: with each day, he tries harder and harder to speak Spanish and make connections with the chapines. It is clear in our group reflections that he has been very impacted by his experience so far and is thinking critically about the problems he has witnessed. These are only two examples of the changes I have seen. Every single participant has blossomed and grown in ways that I never expected. It has been inspiring and thought provoking to see the experience of the participants from a leader’s perspective. I have great faith in the abilities of every student on this program, and I cannot wait to see what further transformations the final days of the trip will bring.
If Global Visionaries had a poster child, Emma Shull just might be the “IT” girl. Over the course of three years, Emma participated in our First Year Leadership Program, went on to serve as a member of the Youth Board and capped it all off as a Gap Year volunteer once she graduated from high school. She’s currently wrapping up her undergraduate studies, but more on that later…
As a First Year participant, Emma traveled to Guatemala on the Summer Trip, where she worked on the construction work team and first met Billy Lopez (last month’s featured alumnus). Asked why she decided to serve on the GV Youth Board, she responded that the inspiration came from a retreat workshop put on by the previous year’s YB pro-justice (PJ) team on the Theatre of the Oppressed. Not surprisingly, she spent her year on the Youth Board passing on her pro-justice knowledge onto the succeeding group of First Years. And then there was Ruthie Ditzler, whom Emma had met in her first year with GV; Ruthie made enough of an impression for Emma to decide to expand her role with GV as a Gap Year volunteer when the time came. Emma spent her first six months undertaking work that was near and dear to her heart: developing the pro-justice curriculum and topics for GV workshops. With GV’s help, she also applied for and obtained a Youth Venture grant (worth $1,000) to support her ongoing work. The second half of Emma’s gap year was spent in Antigua, Guatemala, where she continued to develop her pro-justice work and expertise; this time adapting the model and theory for training of GV’s Guatemalan staff and volunteers. Emma was careful in ensuring that what she taught reflected a Latino context.
One of the exercises that GV used to have its First Year participants do upon their return to the US was to write a letter addressed to him or herself, that would be received a year later. In Emma’s letter to herself, there were three resolutions:
Go back to Guatemala
Attend a university that would provide opportunities to travel the world
Use the knowledge gained during her time with GV to help other youth
Go back to Guatemala – did so as a Gap Year volunteer!
…and fast-forwarding to today for resolutions 2 and 3:
Attend a university that would provide opportunities to travel the world – Emma is getting ready to graduate (May 10th) from Long Island University Global College with a BA in Global Studies. In the course of her undergraduate career, she has lived in Costa Rica, China and Ecuador. Even more remarkably, her Gap Year in Guatemala was accepted for 18 credits as part of a “Life Experience Portfolio” towards graduation requirements, so she’s finishing a year early!
Use knowledge gained during time with GV to help other youth – Emma is currently undertaking a Spring internship with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project to promote leadership and activism among young women (particularly those of color).
Finally, some words directly from Ms. Emma herself…
Please describe how your experiences with GV have helped you to interact with people, cultures and environments outside of your own during your studies abroad.
– Above all, my skill as an observer is one I often attribute to my time with GV. I appreciate how GV encourages participants to always ask questions and to reflect on observations. My experience with GV directly influenced my decision to enroll at LIU Global as it is a school that emphasizes experiential learning.
Have you experienced any moments of profound insight, where you realized that had you not been a part of GV, your perception of an event or issue would be quite different?
– In general my time abroad always leads me to this conclusion. The biggest concept I have taken with me abroad is the recognition of my systemic role in societal oppressions such as racism and imperialism. Without this point of reference my experiences abroad would be completely misconstrued. GV has taught me to think critically (not negatively) about my surroundings and about the people I meet along the way.
One of the issues that GV participants sometimes face upon completing their time with us is tackling the question of how to continue living the mission in their own lives. Beyond your internship with SNLP, what are your plans for continuing to be mindful of all that you’ve learned through GV and beyond in living a conscientious life?
– I am passionate about youth and creative learning. Wherever I am, and whatever I am doing, my role in the empowerment of youth will be essential. As far as long term goals are concerned, one day I’d like to eventually start a youth-run Theatre of the Oppressed troupe.
Do you have any advice for current GV participants (first year, YB or those considering a Gap Year with GV)?
– My advice to current participants is to really search within your community, in Seattle, and outside of Seattle who have similar sets of interests. I feel that it is important to create a sense of community where you live, and GV (although a great community) can also become its own bubble. Get out, and volunteer with other like-minded organizations and expand your network!
I can’t believe how quickly this trip has gone. We, gringos are still licking our wounds from this morning’s terrible butt-kicking in both basketball and soccer by the Chapines…we think they were bitter about their team losing 4-1 to the Sounders yesterday. Aside from a few sore throats, we are doing well, and have somehow miraculously managed not to have an dehydration issues.
Instead of recapping our last few days, which have been lovely, I will save that for you to do in person with your kids. Instead I will simply say that it has been a pleasure getting to take part in this adventure. And I will leave you with some reflections from the three junior leaders who have been absolutely outstanding throughout this trip.
“When I applied to join the Global Visionaries program in the fall of 2008 I had no idea that three years later I would still be involved in the program or that I would be given the wonderful opportunity to return to Guatemala. I have remained involved with this program because I whole heartedly believe in what it stands for. This program is not simply a trip to a not so distant land but an opportunity to fully understand the role each and every one of us plays in the global community in which we all live. In my three year involvement in Global Visionaries I have been pushed to see the world and myself through the eyes of others. When I first went to Guatemala in the summer of 2009 I discovered I was part of an international community striving to improve the world in which we all live. In my two weeks working in the Obras Sociales Del Hermano Pedro de San Jose de Betancourth (a hospital in the city of Antigua for people with physical and mental disabilities) I came to understand that just sitting and talking to someone can have a profound affect on their life, for human contact is the best way to understand others. The work I did on my first trip was validated when I returned to the hospital and was remembered by one of the patients, even though two years had passed since I was last in Guatemala. The memories and friendships I have made on my two trips to this amazing country are things that I will cherish for the rest of my life and are part of the things that made me who I am today. I hope to remain a part of the Global Visionaries community for many years and to help others share in similar experiences.”
“One thing that the students have touched on again and again in our reflections is the feeling of immediacy they have in Guatemala. This has come to some of them now having been separated from computers, telephones , and digital music players . Not being constantly aware of the time, or worrying about their status in the cyber-social world. Others spoke about the sense of community and family they have experienced in the streets and in their homestays. The seeming paradox of warm and joyful people who, at times, have to face not meeting their needs. The feeling of living in the moment that comes with this trip is one of the most important things that I took away from my trip in 2007. I remember one of our adult leaders (who was also my to be Spanish teacher the next year) opened up to us, tears and all, about how she had felt trapped in times past since her father’s death. She shared that being in Guatemala was an important part of her journey back to the present. I didn’t realize how much of a reminder I needed this summer, five years later. I just finished my first year of college, and with that came an unsettling change to a routine I had known for the past thirteen years of my life. To say the least, it was rough. Circa the third night of this trip, my host mother had once again filled me to the brim with güisquil, arroz y frijoles. When we had finished dinner we talked. I understood the majority of what she said, but for some reason the sentences which made everyone at the table roar with laughter were the ones which escaped me (though this didn’t keep me from laughing). She told us that she had a little bit of dessert for us, despite our pleads of complete and utter fullness. She told us to cover our eyes. In that moment in which I couldn’t see, I felt like a child again. Like there was nothing more delightful than whatever sweet was coming our way. More than that, it was the fun of not knowing; the fun in watching the darkness behind my eyelids, and feeling the tight smile on my face. Then I remembered what living in the moment really was.”
“The first time I arrived in Guatemala, I never expected Global Visionaries to change my life the way it did. I never would have guessed either, that one day I would find myself back in Guatemala leading a GV trip and inspiring others to make a difference not only in our local community, but also in the world. It’s hard to describe what Global Visionaries means to me and all it entails because without being fully experienced, no one will truly understand it’s meaning and mission. An event with Global Visionaries that truly changed my life was when I returned to the hospital for the second time. I went back with the expectation that none of the patients would remember me. Although I can’t for the life of me remember the boy’s name, when I entered into the Los Ninos ward for the second time, I will never forget the face of the boy who remembered me. “Mi amor,” I would always tell him and his face would light up with joy. I always forget how much joy the hospital brings to my life and I hope that I can return again soon to my friends there.
I love GV, I always will, and it’s hard for me to face the fact that this trip might be my last with Global Visionaries. It’s hard also to say goodbye to a group of truly inspiring and genuine people who dedicate their lives to the community around them and the education of future generations. I hope this is not my final goodbye to Global Visionaries and I certainly know that I will be back to Guatemala soon.”
When learning about the opportunity to go to Guatemala, I knew that it would be an amazing experience for myself. That’s why I was so excited and took the opportunity to join GV when they came to my school and gave us the presentation about the program. Upon arrival to Guatemala, I had the mindset that I would try my best to have my eyes open and really think about what I was “seeing” instead of seeing it, taking a photo and then moving on.
On one of the first days that we were in Guatemala, we traveled to the small town of Segundo Cruz in the hills above Pastores. This town was the site of one of the schools that GV had built in the earlier days of the program. When we arrived I noticed how the community seemed very impoverished. What I then noticed was that all of the people in the village seemed very joyful and they did not seem to dwell on the fact that they did not have very much money, food or shelter.
We gathered in a group circle once we were all down at the school. We were told stories about the making of the school and how hard it was to build back when it was all starting. We heard about how hard it was for the children to go to the existing school before GV came. The mothers in the town spoke to us about how important the school was to them and especially to the children that lived there.
Once we were done we all split into groups and went into the homes of the people living in the town. We had a lunch with them and spoke about their lives as well as ours. We eventually learned that these people had been living under these circumstances for years and I understood that these people had learned to live life to the fullest. I had an epiphany and thought that while we might stress over not having enough money to buy a meal at a restaurant or not having enough money to pay a cell phone, internet or television bill, the people in this town and in much of Guatemala are worrying about much more necessary things. I thought about how pointless our “needs” were. Food alone is a very important thing to them. In the U.S.A. we take everything for granted and feel a sense of entitlement without realizing that there are people that probably work three times as hard as us, but make a third of the money.
The people also told us about how hard their lives where besides just money. The mothers in this town have more than just one or two children. They have many more than that. The woman whose home we went into had 3 children and she told us that she actually, by Guatemalan standards, had a very small family. This was surprising to me. I have one brother and I feel like my father has a big job taking care of us when both of us are around, but these women have so much more to care for.
The way that they all worked amazed me. They would talk about taking care of the home, and taking care of the kids, and working out in the farm as if it were a normal thing. I later asked one of the mother’s how many hours a day she typically worked. I believe that she said up to thirteen hours. I was stunned at this and it made me feel sad and sorry for her. I thought about it for a minute and realized that I may feel that way but she had accepted it as reality.
Now that I’m back in Seattle, I’m more inclined to work harder, not because I make money from it but because I learn from it. I now know that I have it easy, though I may think that I have a hard and meaningless job. I think that one of the main things that e should understand about our role in the world is that we should not take what we have for granted when the majority of us were born into our relative wealth instead of us really working for it.
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