Category Archives: Staff

What Makes GV Different

By Morgan Flake

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Something to Think About – from Our Offices in Guatemala

English: Guatemala has been seen as a big “finca” (farm) for the last 500 years since the invasion of the Spanish (it is not a conquest), and since then it has been established a system in which only a dome of elitist families who have control of our economy and politics set the rules that runs Guatemala. The new generations not only have the consequences of this system of exploitation, but also we must face the consequences of an internal war that left poverty and a debt that we still continue paying, leaving aside our education and health systems.

We now live in a society where corruption, abuse of power, injustice, suffering and pain are the norm of every day. We live in a country where the governors do business, create policies and undertake projects that only benefit themselves. We live in a country where the environment and life itself are less important than mining, hydroelectric, African palm, oil exploitation, etc. that have destroyed the mountains, valleys, severed and polluted rivers, and above all, displaced communities, denying them their right to work their land.

And yet, a bigger problem is the passive, indifferent, apathetic and silent society.  When people do not take a stand, they can, in a sense, be accomplices. Silence often is no different than taking the side of the oppressor or injustice. Our society has become quiet, submissive and fearful. They make us passive; just waiting for the coming of a messiah.  In other words, waiting for a president who will change it and improve everything.

GV Guatemala understands the importance to be agents of change; to recover historical memory, which allows us to create positive changes to the problems we are facing as a society. We propose and take action by empowering young people from any social and economic context to recover our history and think critically of our present situation in order to build a fair and just future.

GV intends to prepare the young “chapines” (Guatemalans) to understand the role a young person has in our society. We create that platform and tools so that they have opportunities in their schools and social circles to create actions that generate changes from their daily life.

GV believes that it is important that young people have access to programs, in which they can learn how to be empathetic to our cultural diversity – to understand the differences but more important our similarities. Our young participants strive to be cohesive – to be the agent of change that wakes us up to demand justice and not to wait for that messiah (President) to do our work. In addition to understanding how our gringo allies are facing their problems and understand that our struggles are tied and we must collaborate for a better world.

GV breaks the culture of silence, to hear our own voice and more important that the system hears all these voices where we ask for justice and equality for all Guatemalan and human being on this planet.

And as a Latino hero said: “Being young and not being revolutionary, is a contradiction even biologically” -Salvador Allende.

Spanish: Guatemala ha sido vista como una finca por los últimos 500 años desde la invasión de los españoles (no es una conquista), y desde entonces se ha establecido un sistema donde solamente una cúpula de familias elitistas que tienen el control de nuestra economía y política. Las nuevas generaciones no solo debemos afrontar las consecuencias de este sistema de explotación, pero además debemos afrontar las consecuencias de una guerra interna que dejo pobreza y una deuda que aún seguimos pagando, dejando por un lado nuestro sistema educativo y de salud.

Ahora vivimos en una sociedad donde la corrupción, el abuso de poder, las injusticias, el sufrimiento y el dolor son la norma de cada día. Vivimos en un país donde los gobernantes hacen negocios, crean políticas y emprenden proyectos que solo los benefician a ellos mismos. Vivimos en un país donde la naturaleza y la vida es tan poco importante que las mineras, hidroeléctricas, palma africana, explotación petrolera, etc. han destruido las montañas, los valles, secado y contaminado los ríos, y sobre todo, desplazado a las comunidades, negándoles su derecho de trabajar la tierra.

Y es que pienso que no sea estos los problemas más grandes, sino que ante esto los ciudadanos pasivos, indiferentes, apáticos y callados, son igualmente culpables, cómplices, ya que en toda situación no tomar un partido, es realmente tomar el bando del opresor, de la injusticia y la corrupción. Como sociedad se nos ha convertido en callados, sumisos y temerosos. Nos convierten pasivos, solo esperando la venida de un mesías salvador, ósea, un presidente que lo cambie y mejore todo.

Es donde entonces GV Guatemala comprende la importancia como agentes de cambio de recuperar la memoria histórica, que nos permita crear cambios positivos a los problemas que estamos enfrentando. Proponemos y tomamos acción en involucrar jóvenes de cualquier contexto social y económico, para que colectivamente podamos recuperar nuestra historia y pensar críticamente nuestro presente y así poder construir un futuro justo.

GV pretende preparar a los jóvenes chapines a comprender el rol como joven tiene en nuestra sociedad y crear esa plataforma y herramientas para que tengan incidencia desde sus escuelas y círculos sociales y crear acciones que generen cambios positivos desde la vida cotidiana.

GV cree que es importante que los jóvenes chapines deben pasar programas, en el que podamos ser empáticos a nuestra diversidad cultural entender nuestras diferencias pero más importante nuestras similitudes para cohesionar y ser ese monstruo que despierte para reclamar justicia y no esperar más a ese mesías (presidente) que haga nuestro trabajo. Además de comprender como nuestros aliados (gringos) están enfrentando sus problemas y comprender que nuestras luchas están atadas para un mundo mejor.

GV rompe la cultura del silencio, y oímos nuestra propia voz y más importante que escuchen todos estas voces donde pedimos justicia e igualdad para todo guatemalteco y ser humano en este planeta. Y como lo dijo un héroe latino: “Ser joven y no ser revolucionario, es una contradicción hasta biológica” –Salvador Allende.

The story of Billy and Emma – from Guatemala to Seattle – participants to staff.

EmmaAndBilly2014Global Visionaries (GV) serves as an equalizer by bringing together two cultures through the face of youth. A rare moment in GV history is captured here, where two previous participants who joined GV in the same year – one on the Seattle program, the other in Guatemala – now reflect on what valuable experiences they have gained individually and how they hope GV has shaped their futures. Today, Billy and Emma have graduated from GV and are now staff members who share valuable insights and advice on what impacts GV relationships and experiences shaped for them in becoming the young adults they are today:

  •  How did you hear about Global Visionaries and why did you join?

Billy: It’s an interesting story, but I didn’t want to. My best friend actually signed me up after a presentation at my school. I was really skeptical about it all, and I did not want to get dirty working on construction and reforestation teams. In Guatemala, volunteering is not part of our culture. We (Guatemalans) need to work, so it didn’t make sense to me at the time. My best friend at the time, signed me up and he convinced me and challenged me to do something different. So I gave it a shot.

Emma: I remember it so clearly, I remember Mario Flores (GV’s Program Director) speaking in my Spanish class about the disparity of his country and how GV was an opportunity to make a difference, and what better way to do that than during summer break? I was very involved in athletics but something about the opportunity to make a difference inspired me to make that leap and take on another commitment. I had gone on a trip to Rome with my middle school and since then have always looked for ways to explore cultures outside of my own. I didn’t realize just how much personal impact GV would have, aside from providing me the opportunity to travel again.

  • What was it like first interacting with young people your age, from another country and culture?

Billy: I remember exactly. I was on the bus with the “gringos,” on the way to construction… and I remember they (the trip leaders) started facilitating questions like, “Where are you from, what’s your name, what do you do for fun…etc….” It was very awkward because I didn’t speak any English, and my partner didn’t speak any Spanish. But it was fun and by the end of the day I felt more comfortable interacting with “los gringos” and more bonded with my Guatemalan friends. I also stopped caring about being dirty.

Emma: I was so nervous! It was awkward, uncomfortable, and very strange to say the least. Meeting students your age from another school at home was already outside of my comfort zone, but at least we had a common background – Seattle. This was completely different. I remember being paired with a Guatemalan participant, and we were asked to interview one another about, “What is your favorite food, what do you like to do in your free time…etc.” My answers were short-ended, there was a lot of hand gestures, and a lot, a lot of silence but there was a lot of nervous smiling, too.

  •  How did GV inspire you to take action in your community?

Billy: Well, in my first experience it was great to get to know “los gringos.” But most importantly, I later realized that when we were together during a GV activity, we broke down all the stereotypes (nerds, cool kids, etc..)  and GV helped create that space. I continued working with GV because it felt like a community and family outside of school and my own family. It inspired me, because it gave me an opportunity and a space, to give back to my peers (future Guatemalan participants). There’s so much segregation in my country with social classes, and no uniformity so it’s important to talk about the structures and divides in Guatemala. GV creates a space where youth can be themselves. GV also helps to breakdown those social boundaries to create more unity.

Emma: Before my experience in Guatemala, a group of alumni (the GV Youth Board) had facilitated a workshop on systematic oppression. I was really impressed that kids my age were conducting these conversations and facilitating activities that would encourage us to speak on real-life issues in our community. Issues that affect us all: racism, sexism, classism, imperialism, etc. As a daughter of two moms, I have experienced discrimination first and second-hand and GV gave me the language to tell my story, and the space to hear other peoples’ experience. I saw the root of activism was not being afraid to have “difficult” conversations about the issues people face every day, including myself.

  •  What tools did GV equip you with to better follow your passions?

Billy: It provided me space, and opportunity to grow professionally and personally. GV supported me in being more confident in myself, and speaking my words, thoughts and opinions. Traveling to the United States I had a newfound understanding of how to work with others, after seeing their culture. This experience gave me insight on how to create a stronger relationship between the two cultures.

Emma: GV reminded me to use my voice, to step outside my comfort zone, and to work hard. Since my first year with GV I am more confident in my ability to communicate myself to others. I appreciate a hard work-ethic, and strive to demonstrate it to others daily. Leading by example, more than anything else, is the greatest tool GV gave to me as a leader.

  • What changes have you seen in one another, after going through the program, and now as staff?

Billy: When I first met Emma, she was very introverted and quiet so I didn’t get to know her very well. The second time she came to Guatemala, she became more lively and started to speak her mind and share her thoughts and opinions. When she left Guatemala after her work as a GAP year student, I noticed she was following her passions in the social movement and was very active in addressing many issues. Today, I see a strong woman who speaks her mind and works for her community.  As staff, we understand each other better, because we understand our cultural backgrounds.

Emma: I remember Billy as a very outgoing character. His excitement for the program, and willingness to get to know us “gringos” was impressive. I aspired to be like that. He kept a good sense of humor and always made people laugh. As staff, I am constantly reminded of his good humor which he has managed to maintain in his development as a young adult and staff member here at GV. I’m happy to be working with him and learning from him.

  • If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started the program?

Billy: I would have told myself, “Billy, why didn’t you jump in!? Ask questions?” I was very curious about a lot of things with the “gringos”, and it would have been important for me to get to know them more at that time. I wish I gave myself the time to get to know my friends (Guatemalans) better, so I could understand what it means to make connections and relationships with people. I would encourage myself to ask more, and let people get to know me.

Emma: I would have reminded myself that “it takes friction to make a surface smooth”. The first time speaking with and learning from another person is a process! Everything takes practice, and every effort is the best you can give at that time. When things seem awkward or uncomfortable, own it! Have fun, and enjoy the moment!

  • What legacy do you want to leave with Global Visionaries as a member of staff?

Billy: I want to leave a program for Guatemala, that is designed to be led by youth where participants can find a space to be themselves and follow their passions. I want to provide them with tools to take action in their community.

Emma: I hope to foster a sense of adventure, enthusiasm, and willingness to participate to the best of their ability with all activities no matter how silly they may seem.  I also hope to serve as a support system to participants who come back from their immersion, and provide more opportunities for them to reflect and expand their thoughts with others outside of GV. There’s a whole world out there, of other organizations and groups that our students could get involved in. I hope to give our participants opportunities.

Using theater in education as a tool for transformational discussion and learning

2014 Guatemala
2014 Guatemala

One thing that makes Global Visionaries (GV) unique is how all participants receive the same experience, no matter their background. This used to be only true for our Seattle participants, but this year GV has moved towards equal programming for our participants both in Seattle and Guatemala. One example of this programming is in GV’s use of Theatre of the Oppressed (TO), a form of popular community based education that uses theater as a tool for transformation.

Originally this form of theatre was developed by actor and activist Augusto Boal, through his work with peasants and other worker populations. Boal was inspired by the vision of good friend, Paulo Freire, and Freire’s landmark treatise on education “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Boal’s work has inspired others around the world to work toward social and political activism, conflict resolution, community building, and even government legislation.

Up until now, TO had primarily been utilized in Seattle by GV staff and its participants. But this year GV incorporated TO into its intensive program allowing both Guatemalans and “Gringos” to engage in an interactive theater based forum. Led by long-time GV friend and counselor, Marc Weinblatt, the group talked about sexism in Guatemala as experienced by our staff. The result was the creation of a play titled, “Lo que la vida me robo,” (translation: “what life stole from me”).

The play, and TO, is about analyzing rather than accepting what is presented and questioning rather than giving answers.  It is also about “acting” rather than just talking.  Throughout the experience of “Lo que la video me robo”, audience members were transformed from spectators into “spect-actors”.   Through the evocative language of theatre, everyone was invited to share their opinion on the issue at hand – sexism. And even though the play was in Spanish, it didn’t stop Seattle participants from engaging with one another as “spect-actors.”

Interested in learning more about Theatre of the Oppressed? Join us for a workshop December 6-7, where we partner with Marc Weinblatt’s organization at The Mandala Center for Change, on “Diversity: Evolving from Reality to Truth.” We’ll explore how our gender, ethnicity, and other social group memberships affect our experience in the world. Register here, and get a glimpse of what our students’ experience.

By Emma Shull, Global Visionaries

Global Visionaries views its youth as leaders of today, inspiring the leaders of tomorrow. As we strive to become a youth-led organization, we involve our young people in many facets of our organizational practice. Youth engagement and inspiring action to work towards a just and sustainable future are generated by conversations and participation in activities such as TO.

More about Marc Weinblatt

Marc has been a professional educator, theatre director, activist, and workshop facilitator since 1980. He is an internationally recognized leader in the use of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, and has trained thousands to utilize these techniques across the U.S. and from Afghanistan to South Africa. Most recently, Marc joined Global Visionaries (GV) during our intensive program and worked with the Guatemalan staff in creating a play for our GV participants.

Renovation Update: Room 206

image-3This summer, Global Visionaries has acquired a new office space which is being transformed into a brand new Youth Center for our students, parents and alumni. Our interns and volunteers have been working on it diligently and the renovation is finally completed! We are very excited to unveil the new room tonight at our Open House Event. Here are a few snapshots of our new space under transformation, taken over the last three weeks.

image-2

Like our main office, the new Youth Center has five large windows that allow ample natural light to enter the spacious room. A new shelf and a white board have been installed in this corner of the room.

image-4

The whole room is now covered with brand new carpets. The full kitchen behind the two doors on the left is equipped with a full fridge, a sink and other utensils. You are now welcome to bring snacks and ice cream!

It has been a really exciting project and we would like to thank all our wonderful interns and volunteers for the hard work that they put in. Thank you all for making this happen!

***Tyler Flora 20130729_161536Tyler Flora, painting the ceiling

Jake Ragen 20130729_161552Jake Ragen, Lead Assistant

Annie Chan, Bart Flora, Daniel Douglas 20130729_161606More wall-painting – (Left to right) Annie Chan, Bart Flora, Daniel Douglas

Last but not least, we would like to give a big shout out to the following people who have been immense help to GV in creating this great gathering space for our students.

Muchas gracias!

Painting
Tyler Flora, GV Alumni
Gina LaBrosse, LaBrosse Fine painting

Electrical
Craig Borgmann, Alumni Parent, Toth Construction, Inc.
Darrell Westlake, Alumni Parent, Toth Construction, Inc.
Scott Boyer, Boyer Electric

Plumbing
Curtis Schneider, Alumni Parent

Flooring
Bob McCaslin, Alliance Flooring Services

Cabinetry
MaryAnn and Ralph Scofield
Paul Scofield, Aquarius Design

Kitchen Appliances
Malcolm and Christine Cannon, GV BOD

Cash Donations
The Crist Family
The Hope-Young Family
The Goodwin Family

Special Thanks
Chris Feiring-Nishihara, Executive Intern Project Lead
Jake Ragen, Intern, Lead Assistant
Priya Manion, Assistant
El Centro de la Raza

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.”