Tag Archives: alumni

Gv’s Guatemalan Staff Visits Seattle ….Maybe Your House?

Global Visionaries has a whole team in Guatemala that works locally to ensure the experience for our participants is meaningful, safe, organized, impactful, and respects the communities we work with within Guatemala.  To improve language and professional development skills in the U.S., as well asassist in recruiting, Aurelio some of us on this team comes up to Seattle annually. I am part of that team and will be coming back to Seattle this fall. I thought it would be interesting for those involved in Global Visionaries to understand a bit of what we do while in the States. If this is helpful, maybe in the future, one of us can blog about what we do here in Guatemala as well to prepare for our programs.

First, we have to manage finances from the Guatemala side of our work. In August I will work with RoxAnne  (our COO) and Bernie, our finance manager, to get updated on the newest GV accounting system and processes as well as some operational changes that require collaboration between the Seattle and Guatemalan offices. In September/part of October I will be involved with recruiting and educating the Seattle regional high schools.  This is a great part of the trip – as we play a big role in explaining the programs to prospective students and parents. I think it is helpful and perhaps comforting for those planning to be part of the GV programs (and for parents) when the actual Guatemalan team is standing right there in front of them.

I am also looking forward to talking to some of the GV leadership, getting coaching on administrative techniques and planning. This is an important part of the program. A good administration system (financial and administrative) allows the rest of the program to work.  This help will continue to drive efficiency in how we run things in Guatemala, so we have more time continue to improve the experience for our youth participants (and those educators who accompany them).  Then, as I get this type of training, I can share with the rest of the staff in Guatemala. The kids who are involved with the program will have confidence in the program.  If they can trust in the program, they are more likely to have good feelings and want to be part of the GV program.

We are really excited for this trip to the States. Of course, that means additional logistics, including finding host families who can house us for this time in Washington.  It is actually really fun. We get to see how Americans live a little bit better – which help us improve our English and our programs in Guatemala and our hosts get a taste of Guatemala. And of course, we make good friends with our host family

If you’d like the opportunity to host one of us this year – please let the GV staff know. Contact Mario Flores at MarioFlores@global-visionaries.org If you cannot commit to the full length of stay, please indicate when you can host.

Aurelio needs hosting:  Aug 10- Sept 17
Claudia needs hosting:  Sept 7- Nov 20
Billy needs hosting: Sept 7 – Nov 20
Aurelio needs hosting:  Sept 21 – Oct 30

We hope to meet with many of you when we are up there in the late summer fall.

Aurelio Hernandez


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”



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.

GV to Take Part in Third Annual GiveBIG Event on May 15, 2013

TSFGiveBIG2013_color_block_dateGlobal Visionaries is proud to announce that on May 15, 2013, from midnight to midnight (Pacific Time), we will once again take part in The Seattle Foundation’s third annual GiveBIG event. We are joining more than 1,300 other nonprofit organizations on this one-day, online charitable giving event, which aims to inspire people to give generously to nonprofit organizations like GV, who make King County a stronger, more vibrant community for all.

Amplify Your Gift

Join thousands of new and returning individual donors and make an online gift to GV on May 15 and boost your donation even further through matching funds made possible through the generosity of The Seattle Foundation, individual donors, and sponsors like Seattle International Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, Boeing, Microsoft, Medina Foundation, Starbucks and others.

Follow us on Facebook! Start now by “Liking” us and stay tuned for details. Share our page and help spread the word about our good work.

Remember: only donations made between 12 a.m.-12 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15 through our page on The Seattle Foundation’s website will be eligible for matching funds!

We recommend that you bookmark it so that it’s easy to find on the BIG day.

Teach English In Mexico And Get Paid!

Hey GV alumni—are you ready for your next international adventure?

Then you should consider the Global Leadership English School, located in Temascalcingo, Mexico. Here in this picturesque town in the central Mexican highlands, you will have the opportunity to live, work, and study for a year.

The Global Leadership English School, founded and directed by former GV Program Manager Aimee Duran (previously Aimee Hibbets), is now accepting qualified candidates to teach English and leadership skills to local youth.  You can work, earn money, and improve your Spanish, all while having an in-depth, authentic experience in this small community.

For more information about the program, fees and how to apply, see the Global Leadership English School website http://globalleadershipengl.wix.com/globalleadershipengl.

Check us out on Facebook, or email globalleadershipenglish@gmail.com .

Upcoming Diversity Workshop

Global Visionaries and The Mandala Center for Change present


A participatory workshop featuring Theatre of the Oppressed

Facilitated by Cheryl Harrison & Marc Weinblatt

When: Dec. 1-2, 2012; Sat & Sun 9 AM – 6 PM
Where: Seattle location TBA
Cost: $200


  • How does our gender, ethnicity, and other social group memberships affect our experience in the world and how others experience us?
  • How can we work together to create a more just and healthy world for all people?

This popular workshop invites an exploration of the frequently challenging issues that surface under the general term “diversity”.  Often associated just with race, this also includes gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, nationality, and more.  Whether it be around institutions or in your own personal life, develop deeper awareness about societal systems, your own social rank and its impact on situations, as well as strategies to be become a more effective ally to yourself and others.

Through story sharing and problem solving, our goal will be increased awareness, empathy, and empowerment towards action.  Primary tools include Theatre of the Oppressed and other participatory tools to generate an honest and humane dialogue on systematic oppression (power-based analysis of the “isms”) that divide people through inequity and injustice.  The process will be highly experiential and driven by the wisdom and needs of the participants. Despite the serious nature of the issues, the process is remarkably playful.

For anyone interested in re-humanizing humanity including community organizers, activists, teachers, social workers, therapists, workshop leaders, and more.

To register, contact:

Global Visionaries
T: (206) 322-9448
E: programs@global-visionaries.org

For workshop information only, contact:

Mandala Center
T: (360) 344-3435
E: info@mandalaforchange.com


Facilitator Bios

Cheryl Harrison

Former and founding member of Seattle Public Theater’s Theater of Liberation Ensemble, Cheryl has been active in anti-oppression and empowerment work with people of all ages since the mid 1980’s and has designed and facilitated workshops and trainings locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. Using music, theater, lectures, and a variety of experiential activities both Theater of the Oppressed based as well as non-T.O. based, Cheryl has worked with a wide array of organizations and communities such as homeless youth and other marginalized social groups, domestic violence survivors, school age youth, nurses, work transition programs (YWCA), as well as universities and colleges. Some agencies and organizations include the State of Washington (DSHS and Department of Labor and Industries) the International Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conferences in New York, Nebraska, and Ohio, University of Minnesota, Kellogg Fellows, ACLU, Amnesty International, Wheaton College, PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), University of South Florida, Global Visionaries, Power of Hope, Labor Center at The Evergreen State College, and the Eastside Domestic Violence Program among others. Through her work Cheryl is committed to facilitating self-awareness and empowerment for individuals and communities as a means to create a world which values equity, understanding and compassion for all peoples around the world.

Marc Weinblatt

Marc has been a professional educator, theatre artist, activist, and workshop facilitator since 1980 having extensive experience with both adults and youth. Formerly Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Public Theatre, Marc is an internationally recognized leader in the use of Augusto Boal’s ground breaking Theater of the Oppressed (T.O.) to stimulate community dialogue and social change. He has worked with diverse communities ranging from police to homeless youth, grassroots organizers and laborers to University deans. Internationally, Marc has worked with theatre activists in Canada, refugees in Azerbaijan, construction workers in South Africa, slum families in India, actors in the Republic of Congo, and victims of war, among others, in Afghanistan. Marc was recently named “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. State Department for his work in the Congo in spring 2010.Marc regularly facilitates T.O. based diversity / anti-oppression workshops in a wide variety of contexts across the U.S. with a commitment to bringing a deep sense of spirit and humanity into social justice work. He also directs the multi-generational Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble which incorporates T.O. and Playback Theatre techniques to generate community dialogue on burning social issues. One of Augusto Boal’s “multipliers”, Marc has trained thousands of people in the use of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques through his classes and annual week-long intensive trainings since the early 1990’s.

Save the Date – GV Welcome Night

Thursday, November 29, 2012

6:30-9 p.m.

Location: TBD


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

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

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

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

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

About M-Bibe

What We Do

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

Why We Do It

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

Our Story

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

Website: www.m-bibe.com

Previous event: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEut4ePulss

Press: www.capitolhilltimes.com/2012/09/people-wh-rock-bikes-that-roll-and-musicians-who-do-both

Homestay Needed for Billy Lopez!

GV’s Assistant Program Manager Billy Lopez, 22, of Antigua, Guatemala is in need of a homestay in Seattle from October to December.

A previous participant of our Guatemala Youth Leadership program, Billy has been working in our Seattle office since March of this year assisting with our U.S. youth programs and development efforts. Billy decided to take a year off from his university studies in Guatemala to come to Seattle and work at the Global Visionaries office.

“I had to take a year leave from university to accept the position and am disappointed that I won’t be graduating with my friends, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I wasn’t going to pass up,” Billy said.

While in the U.S., Billy hopes to gain a stronger understanding of U.S. culture while improving his English-speaking skills. Billy also hopes to hit the ski slopes while in Seattle, given that Billy had never even seen snow until he came to the U.S.

If you or anyone you know would be willing to provide a new home for Billy, please contact us at gvinfo@global-visionaries.org!

Aimie Kawai: Alumni Spotlight

One of the great things about the work that we do here at Global Visionaries is being able to watch the students who’ve been a part our programs grow into young adults who go on to do some pretty interesting things – and knowing that in different ways, sometimes big and sometimes small, we had something to do with it.

Aimie Kawai went to Guatemala in the summer of 2009.  She joined the GV Youth Board the following year as a senior in high school, where she worked as part of the Pro-Justice (PJ) team and helped pass on her knowledge and experience to the incoming group of First Year Leadership Program students.  Through her interactions with Mario Flores, our Program Outreach Manager, and her experiences as a PJ facilitator, Aimie began to develop an interest in teaching others about injustice.

We’re proud to report that Aimie is currently attending Brown University and studying modern US history (find out why she settled upon this in her own words below).  This summer, she is undertaking an internship with The Mentoring Partnership of New York (MPNY), where she is helping the organization promote the growth of mentoring by providing training and technical assistance to over 180 programs across all five boroughs.  In particular, she will be working on fundraising and other events to promote the visibility of the work of the organization.  When asked if there were any connections between her decision to work for MPNY and her time with GV, she says it is possible.  Aimie thinks that her interest in the educational aspects of MPNY’s work may have come from the PJ work that she did as a GV youth board leader.

As for the future, Aimie isn’t quite sure yet, but she thinks that she may work with youth in some capacity.  For now though, she’s planning on taking some time off from school next year.  Aimie hasn’t taken any trips outside of the U.S. since her time with GV, but thinks that Ecuador may be in the cards.  Or maybe spend some time in South America doing research into justice issues surrounding incarceration.

Or, perhaps, she’ll find herself WWOOFing.  What’s THAT you ask?  It stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is an exchange program where in return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts will provide food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.  What a way to take your experience to the next level if you happened to be a part of the coffee work team during the GV trip!

1.  In what ways have your experiences with GV provided you with additional insight or understanding during the course of your studies?   For example, would you say that your perspective of modern US history is enhanced by your exposure to pro-justice issues?

I think my experiences with GV helped spark an interest in understanding history from multiple perspectives.  My work with pro-justice issues in particular exposed me to ideas of structural inequality and how that has shaped our country and our country’s history.  I have gone on to study these concepts in greater depths, really enjoying learning about the US through a variety of lenses in order to get a greater scope of understanding.  I like learning history beyond just the bare facts of what has happened, but rather as a history of social factors that have led to different events.

2.  How do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve gained as a result of GV will help you in your internship this summer?

I think the skills I learned as an intern and a facilitator will help me in my internship this summer.  I began to develop skills that help me find out where things need to be done and what needs to be accomplished in order for events (such as auctions or workshops) to be successful.  This confidence and assertiveness comes from experience, and continues to develop in my work in NY.

3.  Please tell us more about your ideas for what you might do with your time off from school.

I am not sure of my plans yet due to certain complications, but ideally I want to spend some time at home with my family and some time exploring a new place. I want to use this semester to relax and take a step back so that I will fully appreciate my spring semester of college.  However, at the same time I hope to challenge myself in one or more directions.  I think that one way that goal will be reached is through travel, and exploring a new country and culture.

Alumni Spotlight: Billy Lopez – Antigua, Guatemala

Meet Billy Lopez of Antigua, Guatemala.  He’s 22 years-old and on his first trip outside of Guatemala to Seattle.  But unlike many young people his age, his first excursion out of his home country is not part of a family vacation or to study abroad.  Billy has taken a year off from his university studies to come work with Global Visionaries here in Seattle.  If you walk into our office, you could easily overlook him among the many interns and volunteers bustling about.  From his friendly smile and unassuming demeanor, you may not guess that Billy is actually a past participant in our Guatemala Youth Leadership program and will be with us for the next four months assisting with our U.S. youth programs and development efforts.  I had the chance to meet Billy and find out more about him and his experience with Global Visionaries.

How did you find out about and become involved with GV?

I found out about GV as a senior in high school.  GV’s Guatemala Country Directors, Aurelio Hernandez and Mario Flores came to one of my classes and did a presentation about GV.  At the time, I was just a regular young guy who wanted to have fun and be with his friends.  I had no interest in being a “global citizen.”  My friends were all very interested because there was a pretty American girl (a gap year volunteer) involved, but I wasn’t so sure.  I didn’t put my name down when the sign-up sheet came around.   Two days later, Aurelio and Mario came back to our class and confirmed with those who had signed-up.  I was shocked to hear my name being called out, but understood what happened when my friends started laughing.  In the end, I decided to go along with it.

What was it like?

On my first day, I was shy because there were a lot of gringos (I was the only Guatemalan) and my English wasn’t very good because it was boring to learn when I was in school.  I eventually opened up and was motivated to improve my English.  Although I originally became involved with GV in the Spring of 2008 to fulfill a service project requirement in order to graduate, I decided to continue on into the Summer as well.  Eventually, I took a part-time job with GV, where I was leading groups.  This was very different from when I was a participant.  Also, the group of friends that had originally joined up with me had gone on to do different things.  I decided to take it to the next step by applying for a position with Earthcorps that would have brought me to the U.S.  Although I was accepted into the Earthcorps program, I was unable to obtain a visa from the U.S. embassy following my interview on account of my youth and inexperience.  This was a strong disappointment and a setback that caused me to have second thoughts about coming to the U.S.   Then, five months ago, I was offered the opportunity to come work for GV at our Seattle office and this time, I got the visa!  I had to take a year leave from university to accept the position and am disappointed that I won’t be graduating with my friends, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I wasn’t going to pass up.

What are your first impressions of the U.S.?

Um…they’re not so great.  The first thing I noticed was the system of oppression that is at work in the U.S.  For example, the large numbers of Blacks and Latinos driving buses, working in restaurants as servers or cooks, but I didn’t see any Black pilots, for example.  Also, people are always on their cell phones or plugged into their iPods.  They walk around in their own personal four walls and are unapproachable.  When they see you, it’s like they don’t actually see you.  When I came across other Latinos at the airport in Houston, they spoke to me in English!  When I arrived in the U.S., I needed to be all dressed-up in a suit and tie because I knew the immigration officers would look at me from head to toe and judge me.  Also, people don’t really walk on the streets here (except maybe downtown) like they do in Guatemala.  And they don’t say hi.

Did you notice anything positive?

Absolutely.  The diversity and especially the number of Latinos.  Also, I was concerned about seeing only buildings and lots of concrete, but Seattle actually has a lot of trees and green space.  Finally, I was worried that the GV office might be quiet and impersonal, but instead, I found it to be pretty lively and have many examples of people working together.

How has your involvement with GV affected your perspective and understanding of the world?

If I hadn’t been a part of GV, I probably wouldn’t have made all of the observations that I did at the Houston airport.  Also, you know, in Guatemala, there is a physical divide between the rich and poor in the form of zones inside cities.  In the rich zones, you have access to supermarkets, banks and public services, but not in the poor zones.  The rich zones have regular and dependable garbage disposal services whereas the poor zones will house the city dump.  The wealthy do not see or understand how their lifestyles affect the rest of society.  They believe that education is truly free in Guatemala, but they don’t understand that some children still cannot afford to go to school because they are unable to pay for their uniforms or school supplies, so they drop out.  Through GV, I’ve gained the ability to perceive and understand the implications of this divide, but also recognize that I’m still learning.

How does your experience affect how you make decisions in life?

One example is consumerism and its role in how I live my life.  For example, I understand that I am privileged to have choice.  So before I buy something, I always ask myself these questions: (1) do I really need it? (2) is there a better way for me to spend this money? (3) what are the social and environmental impacts of my consumption decisions? (4) what effect will my spending decisions have on the lives of others?  Basically, I’ve learned to take a conscious step back to really think about what I’m doing before I buy something.

What else are you looking forward to seeing or doing while you’re here?

I’m looking forward to observing the “meeting of cultures” of the diverse populations here and their experiences of being in America.  Meaning, I’d like to learn what it’s like to be from an outside culture, but living in the U.S. and maybe meet another Guatemalan who has been here for a while.  I also want to improve my English and grasp of U.S. culture.  I want to go skiing maybe; I had never seen snow before I came to Seattle!  Finally, I’d like to see many of the people I had met back in Guatemala while I’m here.

Did you have a chance to meet Billy while you were down in Guatemala?  If not, would you like to?  Either way, you’re welcome to stop by the office and say hello.  He’s here most days and can also be found at various events over the next four months!

GV Alumni Returns to Guatemala

Written by Paul Iano

Things are strange when returning to a country with an experience as unique as Guatemala and Global Visionaries.

In fact, the strangest and most interesting part has been the vast differences between GV’s immersion based curriculum and living in a volunteer capacity. The differences come from both a language barrier and my awareness of cultural perception.

Firstly, I only now appreciate how the structure of GV’s trips strip away the very real distance between gringos and Guatemalans due to language. That structure allows real friendships to blossom very quickly, something that takes much more time and patience between people not involved in GV’s program.

Secondly, I had no idea how much awareness I had learned about how I am perceived by other cultures. After seeing other westerners in Antigua and a mission group here in Itzapa I am incredibly grateful to  Global Visionaries for preparing me to come back to Guatemala and interact with people with humilty and equality basis which will be incredibly valuable everywhere I go in the future.

The best type of personal changes are those that are only realized much later, and I truly believe Global Visionaries fosters that type of change.