Voices of Visionaries : Maddie

“Before Global Visionaries, I didn’t think that I would go to college or finish high school, but now I know that I am going to go to college. I feel like I’m growing and I’m ready for whatever comes next”

IN ONE WORD, WHAT DO YOU FEEL NOW YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF GV?

“Inspired”

I’m Madison, a senior at Cleveland High School in Seattle. I joined Global Visionaries (GV) because I wanted to experience something new, and have an opportunity to travel out of the state. One challenge I faced resulted from beMaddieing a foster kid. It was hard for me to find my birth certificate and get my passport so that I could even travel to Guatemala. The staff worked really hard to help me get my passport. They made me feel like I was part of their family and supported me through the extra challenges I faced as a youth in foster care. Since joining GV, I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in my whole life, because of the GV staff and my cohort.

I’m on the Youth Board, on the pro-justice team. We research systematic oppression and teach it to the newest participants in the program. For instance, we play a game called Power Shuffle. In Power Shuffle, everyone stands in a line and then moves forward or backward depending on answers to various questions, like “Did you grow up in poverty?” and “Did you have books in your house growing up?” When I played as a first-year participant, I was in the back with a couple other people. I realized that a lot of people in the front had more privileges than I did. But I also realized that I was really proud of being where I was because I don’t need a lot of privileges to grow up and be strong. Now I lead this activity and I get to show first-year participants that no matter where they come from, they still matter. It makes me feel like I’m making a change in other people’s lives.

Before GV, I didn’t think about my future that much. I didn’t think about college or what I’d do after high school. I wasn’t even sure that I would finish high school. If it wasn’t for GV, I’d be stuck where I came from. They pushed me to work hard, and the more they pushed me, the more I believed in myself. Now I know that I’m going to college. I feel like I’m growing and I’m ready for whatever comes next. I’m happy because I know that I have a family here to support me, and I know that I’m going to succeed in whatever I choose to do with my life.

I never really had much of a family, but, being a part of Global Visionaries, I really feel like they are my family. I think that’s what I love the most about it. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for helping me get to Guatemala.

– Pro-justice team.

Voices of Visionaries : Brian

“One of the greatest things I’ve taken away from the program is an increased empathy for my fellow human beings. After being in Guatemala I’ve truly gotten a sense of the fundamental value of human life. And I feel that the greatest way that I can pay that back is by becoming a physician to help save other people’s lives.”

In one word, what do you feel now you have been part of GV?

“Hopeful”

My name’s Brian and I am a junior from Mercer Island, Washington. I serve as one of the Youth Representatives on the Board of Directors, meaning I go to all of the board meetings, and I help sculpt the organization. It’s an opportunity for me to give a voice of the youth to this group of adults and help shape where we’re going. Brian2What lured me to Global Visionaries (GV) was the chance to travel outside the United States and have a hands-on experience in a foreign country. The ability to work in Antigua’s hospital, for instance, seemed like an amazing opportunity to give back, and was well-suited to my interest in becoming a physician. One of the greatest things I’ve learned from the program is an increased empathy for my fellow human beings. After working in the hospital, I gained a sense of the fundamental value of human life, as well as an increased drive to make an impact on the world. And I feel that the best way I can contribute to our global society is by practicing medicine.

I’ve never been completely comfortable in my own skin, but once I got to Guatemala and started interacting with my peers in the cohort, I felt that any semblance of inadequacy melted away. The atmosphere that GV creates is one of true community. I never worried what people thought of me, and I knew that they had my back. I carry this warmth with me wherever I go now, knowing that I have this bond with my peers from GV, even though we may go down different paths in our lives.

One element that is absolutely vital to the essence of GV is its 50-50 model — the idea 50 percent of participants should be from low-income families, and 50 percent not. I didn’t initially understand what that offered to the organization, but once I was actually engaged in discussions with the group, it dawned on me. Our discussions would have been so much more superficial without that diversity. Having a broad spectrum of participants brings a wealth of perspectives and first-hand knowledge that is genuinely powerful, and it had a profound effect on me.

I’m very drawn to the GV philosophy. Because I love both biology and analogies, I think of GV as a treatment for the underlying cause of many of the world’s social ills, rather than just a palliative for symptoms. After a virus enters its host, it begins exponentially multiplying itself and vying for control of the body, resulting in a cluster of symptoms that do further damage to the body. We have racial and religious conflicts, famine, suffering. Our world has all these symptoms, but behind them is a virus, a root cause. It can be tempting to pour all of our resources into fighting the symptoms, but unless we remove the core causes, the symptoms will just resurface. GV attacks the virus, not the symptoms, and I think that is an inspiring mission.

Due to the fact that donors are giving GV funds for low income youth scholarships , there’s such a huge diversity and broad spectrum of people from all walks of life coming together to share their perspectives. I found that I was incredibly impacted by all these people’s viewpoints, and all of their takes on these different issues. It truly broadened my horizons by meeting these people that I wouldn’t normally. Having them come into the organization, and being able to forge a bond with them, definitely broadened my horizons. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in a life-changing experience.

Voices of Visionaries : Richard

“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?

“Engaged”Richard2

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.

GV Youth Board – Immersion Leader.

Voices of Visionaries: Audrey

“Getting real world experience has been transformational in my life and will help me throughout college and my future career.”

In one word, what do you feel now you have been part of GV?

“PASSIONATE”

When I first heard about Global Visionaries (GV), I was impressed by its philosophy. GV sees the potential that we have as youth and empowers us to change the world. The scope of its projects also really attracted me. There are opportunities to work in the hospital,Audrey build schools, work on coffee farms, or help with reforestation efforts. I knew being part of GV was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I feel like I’m making a real impact on people lives—from guiding the first-year participants to working at the hospital

in Antigua. Even the real-world experience I’ve gotten from working in the office has been transformational.I think what excites me the most is being able to work with the first-year participants. I want them to be able to experience a little piece of what I did. Coming to GV’s Culture Nights helped me have a safe place to just be myself and let down my defenses that I had in high school. I had a difficult time finding a core group of friends at school, but with the other GV students, I found we were all going through the same things and we really connected. So now as a gap year student, I can help recreate that environment. And I’ll get to see Guatemala through their eyes, as they have the same opportunities that I did, from their homestays and cultural immersion to working at the hospital and learning Spanish.

There are plenty of stereotypes about teenagers being lazy and apathetic. But GV gives youth the tools and vocabulary to impact the world, big or small, from Guatemala to Seattle. I love working, being on-the-go. Working with GV reminds me to give back to my community, and shows me that volunteering makes a real positive impact on people’s lives.

I thank the donors with all my heart, as I did receive a scholarship, without which I wouldn’t have been able to participate in the program. This little organization has transformed me. I’ll look back at this experience twenty years from now and be so grateful that I took this opportunity. It’s been an amazing experience.

2012-13 First Year Leadership Program
2013-14 Youth Board
2014-15 Gap Year

From Guatemala to Seattle: My Journey in Understanding Social Justice

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By Simone Evans

My experience in Guatemala was unforgettable. Volunteering at the hospital, dinner conversations with my host family that lasted for hours, and coming together with my peers was a transformative experience and changed me in ways I couldn’t anticipate. When I got home, I felt very inspired by my experience in Guatemala but I didn’t know what to do with these feelings. I wasn’t sure what the impact of the immersion would be on my life.

That changed when I attended a week-long workshop at The Tyree Scott Freedom School. It is a program the focuses on educating and teaching youth about oppression within our community towards people of color. Through activities and conversations at the Freedom School, I learned about injustice and the oppression facing others. We evaluated how racism is still prevalent today in the prison system, education system, and in our community. It was mind blasting because I thought I was aware of most injustices people of color were facing, but I learned that racism is more pervasive than I’ve ever known. The school was primary African American youth, but there were people of other ethnicities there as well. We did a power shuffle where they asked questions about our home life, and experiences we’ve faced in the world. Some questions like  “Do your parents own a house?” took you a step forward; other questions like “Were you surrounded by drugs?” took you a step back. By the end of the power shuffle, I was shocked. I am mixed race and I found myself in the middle of the spectrum, all of the Caucasian people were in the front, and most darker-skinned individuals were in the back. That was when the reality of our world hit me. I’ve always felt sympathy and empathy for others but now I understand oppression and struggle on a deeper level. I am more aware of the suffering of humankind; I now see innocent people are dying day by day, in situations similar to our fictional gruesome movies. Now, I am able to put myself in other people’s shoes and try to feel what others might be feeling as the result of oppression. Fighting oppression is something that has become very important to me, and I don’t think I would’ve ever felt this passionate without experiencing or seeing these things first hand.

I have continued to pursue this passion for social justice as a member of the Pro Justice team on the Youth Board. We are working to identify oppression issues in our everyday lives and learning how to address them. Our goal is our title, Pro Justice: to create a world where we all live equal amongst one another. A world where we aren’t judged by the way we were born. We are creating awareness, and although people may say, “you can’t change the world,” by every person we inspire, that’s one more person on the side of equality, one more person to spread the word. These experiences helped me realize the life I truly want to live, and the people that I want to live it with me. My experience with Global Visionaries and the Freedom School opened these doors for me and for that, I cannot thank them enough.

Youth Designing for Good: Bringing Design Thinking to Community Development

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By Bess Nuland

This December, Maggie Chumbley, a global and community educator, joined the Environmental Justice Team for a Tuesday evening meeting to discuss how to incorporate “design thinking” and “prototyping” principles into community mobilization projects. The Environmental Justice team has been exploring meaningful ways to incorporate local voices and support community action in addressing conservation and sustainability issues in the Seattle area. With Ms. Chumbley’s facilitation, the Environmental Justice team learned to employ tools to collect information and cultivate relationships that will help them identify community needs and design service programs that galvanize the community around environmental justice topics.

Ms. Chumbley explains the process and importance of design thinking as follows:

When creating community projects and support youth to create their own projects, it helps to orient our thinking towards process over product.  Instead of encouraging them to find just one great idea, the youth learn the tools, habits of mind, and a process that allows them to engage with the communities they hope to serve way that truly meets the needs of those communities. This means instead of asking, “What shall we do?” they ask, “What might need to happen?” Two of the most powerful skills these eager youth leave with are also two of the most important core values of design thinking: empathy and prototyping. They learn, through the design thinking process that it takes multiple interviews, meetings, observations, good questions, photos, videos, and visits to begin to grasp what is happening and what might need to happen to be in true service in their communities. Empathy is paramount, as it supports subsequent process of prototyping. Guiding youth to try out several of their ideas in several situations in order to learn more about what might work best and then design for it is the heart of prototyping. And the best part is, it completely eliminates the pressure to get it “right” the first time.”

In the New Year, the Environmental Justice team will be employing these new tools to explore expanding composting programs in schools and promoting community gardens.

My Pathway Through College

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By Theresa Keith

As a high school student, I was a part of many different activities, clubs, and organizations, all of which affected and shaped those years of my life. In my opinion, the true measure of an organization’s impact on your life is the degree to which it influences the choices you make, especially those choices that in turn, greatly affect your life. For me, that influence was Global Visionaries (GV) which greatly affected my search and final decision for college. In retrospect, I am extremely grateful that this was the case.

I joined GV in my junior year of high school, and continued with GV Youth Board my senior year. The skills and lessons that I learned with GV, both personal and global, infiltrated my thinking about higher education and the course my life would eventually take. While in the GV program I realized how much I value diversity, community, leadership, activism, social justice, and global perspectives. I realized that I found a sense of purpose and fulfillment when learning and teaching about these ideas, and that I wanted to be able to pursue that wherever I went to college. I looked for a place that was in a globally connected city, had study abroad opportunities, valued social justice, and most of all promoted learning for a purpose beyond oneself. These aspects led me to choose the University of San Francisco (USF), and the influence of GV did not stop there.

Although I have only been at USF for one semester, I have gravitated toward clubs such as “Students of the World.” Two of my first courses at USF were “Writing about Human Rights” and “Confluences and Conflicts in the Spanish Speaking World,” two passions that were ignited and encouraged at culture nights and in the GV office. GV has not necessarily changed what I want to do in life, since I still currently plan on double majoring in biology and Spanish and becoming a biologist. Instead, GV has changed how I intend to do these things: by collaborating cross-culturally, by learning through travel, by infusing scientific study with the awareness of injustices, and by always working for a purpose greater than oneself and in the service of others.

1st Year Participant 2012-2013

Youth Board Member 2013-2014

The Chain of Growth

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By Natalie Chaparro, Pro Justice Team

A wave of shock came over me when we landed. The airplane ride was full of “what if’s” and excited nervousness that everyone was able to relate to. I couldn’t believe we were going to Guatemala, so much anticipation and curiosities that are going to be exposed to me. We retrieved our bags, cleared through customs, and braced ourselves at the glass doors that revealed something that made my heart drop. Loud cheering and radiant smiles, countless people to welcome us to their home stood outside the airport to greet all of us. Shaking their hands and kissing their cheeks one by one, the genuineness of it all made me feel at ease, it made me feel like I was in paradise. We loaded our luggage onto our travel bus, and took our seats sitting tightly next to new friends.

We all finally sat on the bus waiting for what’s next. But it didn’t matter, the laughter and simple joy of knowing we were all going to go through this together reflected on every face, and was something that I could feel deep in my stomach. My cheeks flushed as I read my families welcome card, we were all handed one on the bus as we traveled to meet them and spend our first night with them. It felt good knowing that every word on that card was just for me, even if I could barely understand the language at first, it was still meant for me.

That was the very first memory that started a chain of growth for me in Guatemala. It was the very first memory that stood as the foundation for all other bonding experiences that have acted as the building blocks for what I am proud to be part of today. Every day I woke up, I went to work, I spoke to someone new, and I found a little part of myself. I knew that meeting that little part of myself would have been unattainable without my host family, without my GV family, but most importantly, without San Miguel. It is a part of me that grew and surfaced within the hour I was immersed in such a special place, and it’s a feeling that everyone should be given the chance to discover.

Explaining the journey that Guatemala takes a person on, the self-discovery, the exposure to a world outside your own and how much knowledge one gains is truly indescribable. To define Guatemala into a series and compilation of words that leaves so much to interpretation, does not do it justice. When I returned home, that was another thing I discovered. Trying to explain the path on which this amazing place took me and continues to take me is one of the most taxing things to put into words. Words are a powerful thing, but there is still that fear of denigrating all that Guatemala is with them. The encounter with it is the only thing that could emanate all of its beauty in the most articulate way.

When I returned home, the responsibility I felt to the people who were curious to know about this place, made me feel like my work wasn’t done. Working with the Chapines was for a purpose, how much they taught me and how much I was able to teach them is something I was ready to give to more people, something I wanted more people to have. The hesitation, the nervousness the utter unknowing of all the possibilities that await when traveling there is the beautiful chance I wanted to give to future students to take. I decided that after my first year in Global Visionaries’ leadership program, the second year program was where I belonged. I ended up combining forces with Pro Justice (PJ), a team that actively works towards giving first year students the preparation for their journey that we were given by the PJ leaders that taught us as first years.

I not only continue to feel like my PJ team is my family, but it has been what keeps what I found in myself in Guatemala alive and ambitious. The power I hold as a young person and knowing I can be the change in contribution to a sustainable world and environment has been the light for me these past two years.

New friends, new views, and a whole different type of active involvement has uncovered itself to me, and I feel honored to work with the amazing people that I continue to work with today.

Thanking our donors

2014.guatemala.locals.childrenThe Board of Directors and staff would like to thank our generous donors.

Your contributions are making a difference. We wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your belief in our programs and continued support. Donations received from individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations are critical to the success of our programs. Your support enables GV to annually serve over 665 youth not only in Seattle and Guatemala, but also Chicago, and partner organizations in San Francisco and Fort Collins.

Because of you, the youth you are supporting:

  • Have totaled 587,267 hours of community service since GV’s inception, 145,248 of them in the past two years alone
  • In Guatemala they have built 24 school rooms, kitchens and community centers
  • And planted 30,000 trees in reforestation projects (both since GV’s inception)

In the past 12 months:

  • 116 First Year Program youth participated in workshops on leadership development, community service, fundraising and philanthropy, ecological footprint reduction, and diversity, as well as undertaking a life changing immersion experience in Guatemala
  • 10 returning Youth Boarders designed, and implemented a retreat in which they guided their peers through team building and leadership activities designed to unify and motivate the 2014-15 Youth Board (GVs second year program)
  • 38 youth participated in a food justice workshop where they explored access to food and mapped out sustainable channels of providing food directly to communities

Not to mention the launch of the Global Leadership Summer Institute for Educators which in the summer of 2014 serving 22 teachers from five states.

In the last academic year GV was able to provide $125,000 in scholarship funding enabling 56 students to join GV’s programs on a sliding-scale based upon their family’s income. And after the successful launch of the GV-Treehouse partnership – thanks entirely to funding from foundations and individual donors – GV is now able to offer youth in foster care full scholarship opportunities across all programs, giving them a college ready path to success.

Your participation in our fundraising events, campaigns and through grant funding is making a difference in the lives of youth from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Because of you they are on a journey, together as global leaders.

Appreciating the dedication of teachers

Paul FGlobal Visionaries is fortunate to have the support of many amazing teachers throughout the Puget Sound area, many of whom have been contributing to GV for several years in ways unseen yet crucial to our shared success. One of these educators is Paul Fischburg, a teacher of Junior IB History of the Americas at Chief Sealth International High School.

Previous to becoming an educator Paul enjoyed a twenty-year career in architecture, construction, and community development and lead a non-profit organization that built affordable housing and community facilities in the Chief Sealth neighborhood. With a rich background of experience to draw from Paul brings valuable perspective and leadership skills to GV, although he says learning to let go has been an important lesson he’s gained through working with youth.

“Now that I am a high school classroom teacher, the GV experience has helped me teach”  Paul said, adding that he is able to trust his students to take the lead, impact the direction, and to share the responsibility for where they go as a class.

Paul decided to get involved with GV after a neighbor participated in the first-year leadership program and he saw first-hand how the program helped youth realize their power and potential. Of this experience Paul says he was impressed by the way young people were given the support and autonomy to lead the organization to a new level. Since this initial experience Paul has stepped in to help in several roles both in Seattle and Guatemala.

Today, Paul and his family are hosting one of the Guatemalan staff here in Seattle for six months. Paul expressed how he adores the Guatemalan staff; “Most of the adults involved in GV – parents and teachers, don’t get to meet or know the GV staff.  They are wonderful, funny, professional, playful, brilliant, strong, compassionate, and giving”.  Paul looks forward to renewing these friendships each year when he returns to Guatemala as an immersion leader, which he says is his favorite part of serving at GV.

“Sharing this experience with a group of young people who become like family, to open up to the learning, growing and feeling that comes from being in a new culture has been so powerful and gratifying to me” Paul says. And we couldn’t agree more, Paul has become like family and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Enabling young people to become global leaders, creating a just and sustainable future.