Tag Archives: culture

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

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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.

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.

Intern Insights: What Are We Doing Here?

By Noel Chapman, PR & Communications Intern

image[1] rotatedHello GV Community!

My name is Noel Chapman, and I am a PR and Communications intern.  I introduced myself at the beginning of the year (see Greetings from New GV Intern Noel Chapman), but I wanted to talk to you all in more detail about what I am doing here.

You may have seen me or my classmates around the Global Visionaries office, out and about with Earth Corps or digging in at the Local Roots farm.  We are all a part of the Humanities for Leadership Studies major at Seattle University, but what exactly does that mean and what in the world are we doing at GV?

As I said in my previous article, the Humanities for Leadership Studies (or BAHL as we call it) is a degree that studies both leadership theory and philosophy as well as practical skills that any leader should have.  This major is in direct fulfillment of the last part of Seattle University’s mission: “empowering leaders for a just and humane world.”  Sounds a lot like GV’s mission, “Empowering young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future,” doesn’t it?

One of the reasons why I love this major is the combination of theoretical discussion and then practical application.  This has occurred in many classes that I have taken for my major requirements so far and is also seen in this internship experience.  It really ensures that I am learning and remembering the information that I get in class.

During the sophomore year of the BAHL degree, we must participate in a local internship.  This is obviously a time for professional development and skill building.  However, our major does not just leave it at that!  We take a class in tandem with our internship.  Fall quarter the class was heavily informational as we learned about organizational theory and culture.  During winter quarter and now spring quarter, we are doing more application than theory as we reflect in papers and present our observations to our classmates.  We focus on applying the knowledge we gained fall quarter.

For those of us at GV, this has been such an incredible learning opportunity.  We have and continue to delve into GV’s organizational culture and how GV really works.  It has enhanced my internship experience so much! Because of the design of this educational experience, I can now say that I learned much more than those basic office skills that any intern can pick up on; I learned how to identify an underlying organizational culture and evaluate how it fits in with the every day functions of the office.

If you have any questions for me after hearing about this program, please feel free to ask (especially any interested high school students)!  I’ll be around the office Wednesday afternoons; so if you’re in, say hi. I promise, interns don’t bite!

Spring Trip is Right Around the Corner

Spring Trip Group
The Spring Trip participants pose for a group shot at their recent retreat at Camp Sealth.

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.

Small Spring Trip Group
Fiona, first on the left, and her fellow Spring Trip participants prepare for their experience in Guatemala.

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.

Sights, sounds, tastes and heart: Christmas in Guatemala, Christmas in the US

by Kenna Stout

XmasMarket

What do you get when you mix long, furry, green feet, anti-Christmas cheer and the ability to slither down chimneys?  A Grinch of a Christmas course! But not to worry, this is no ba-humbug article.  With many ho-ho-ho’s and some jingles along the way, only images of tinsel-trimmed trees, reindeer and sugar plum fairies will be left dancing in your head. And maybe a strange craving for a tamale, too.

When asked to write a little bit about Christmas traditions in Guatemala and the United States, I turned to blogosphere and the lovely Global Visionaries staff to unearth traditions found in Guatemala and in their own families.   Many thanks to Mario Flores, program outreach manager, who opened my eye to Christmas celebrations in Guatemala City.  And special thanks to Billy Lopez, assistant program manager, for sharing his family’s chuchitos (Guatemalan tamale) recipe, give it a shot!

While US Christmas shoppers are bombarded with images of Santa Claus and snowflakes, and carolers can be heard fala-lalala-lala-ing throughout the season; Christmas in Guatemala comes to life with the sight of colorful nacimientos, the sounds of fireworks, merengue and salsa, and the smells of pine, ponche and chuchitos.

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Though, of course, at the heart of it all, are the children, whose excitement and joy are palpable in the weeks, days and hours leading up to Christmas. Despite the visible differences between how Christmas is celebrated – or ritualized in the traditions we keep – the essence of this holiday lies in our families, friends, communities and how said traditions strengthen the bonds of love between us.

Sights

Vintage SantaSanta Claus’s button nose and his sleigh full of toys is not a focal point for Guatemalan children.  Though this global icon can be found in many a window at department and toy stores, Mario points out that you won’t find very many fireplaces in Guatemala. Still, Santa’s true magic is not lost in the hearts of children.  On one night every year, anticipation runs rampant on a global scale, no matter how poor, rich, small or tall, children feel Christmas magic uniting them as a human community.  In Guatemala, children get to stay up all night on Christmas eve because at the stroke of midnight, they receive and unwrap the presents bestowed on them by parents, relatives and friends.  Guatemalan children give thanks to their parents and relatives for all the gifts and memories received and Santa’s antics in the chimney are left forgotten.  Still, Guatemala has its own unique images that add to the spirit of Christmas.

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You may hear, “did you see, so-and-so’s nacimientos?”  Many churches, neighborhoods, and families create or sponsor elaborate nativity scenes called nacimientos to commemorate Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus.  These scale models depicting the manger scene can fill rooms and draw crowds of family, friends and nacimientos lovers alike.  Check out some examples of nacimientos and consider: do gingerbread house competitions seem dull in comparison? As opposed to the traditional US custom of “keeping up with the Joneses'” by lighting and decorating the outside of one’s house, nacimientos fill the inside of buildings with light and color.  Brightly colored sawdust in green, red and yellow line the ground of displays, neatly laid in rows and patterns representing the land and fields.  Though no prize is involved, great pride, planning and personalization go into their creation; they are like the frosting on any cake!

For days leading up to Christmas, las posadas, or parades re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for a safe haven, happen nightly.  As the processions wind through the streets, the drumming of a turtle shell is faintly heard as it brings up the rear.  Each night, Mary and Joseph get turned away from houses until they find refuge at a previously designated house.  Once they are safe, the participants and observers erupt in celebrations filled with hugs, candy, ponche, cookies or tamales and more.

Sounds

Nothing tops the smell and sounds of firecrackers and fireworks that ring in (your ears) the holiday season.  On Christmas eve, to commemorate the birth of Jesus, fireworks are lit at six-hour intervals starting at noon, 6pm, midnight and noon again on Christmas day.  Other festivities include a church mass from 9pm to midnight and neighborhood or family parties that last all night long.

Tastes

tamales1Food bonds us through taste, texture, smell, heart and history. Guatemalan tamales and American apple pies can be strong and delicious representations of a family’s past.  As they fill our bellies, they remind us to look to a future filled with love, joy and togetherness with our loved ones. No matter the country, common themes, like ingredients, flow through all of our traditions.  Like the sweet tamale and apple pie, cinnamon and love are ingredients that can be found around every corner during Christmas.

The history of the “tamal”, pre-dates Spanish conquistadors, going back to Mayan culture and beyond. Though the exact origin of the tamale is unknown, the significance it has for many families is connected to stories of migration, labor and family bonds.  Thousands of years ago, they fed armies and cities. Nowadays, they are a great lunch time snack that can be bought outside many offices in Guatemala City. Tamales are portable; they can be re- steamed, grilled or eaten cold.  Tamales carry sustenance bursting with flavor and can be altered to appease everyone’s taste buds. To be sure, tamales have a special place in the hearts of those who have ever eaten one.

tamales4Guatemalan tamales are essentially two parts: masa (corn flour) and filling, and wrapped in banana, plantain or another leaf of choice, then steamed to perfection. The dough, or masa, can be the trickiest part of the tamale to get right. The masa needs to be mixed with water or stock and fat (like butter or margarine) before it can be filled with any number of things. Typically though, the filling is made with meats such as chicken and pork, fruits such as raisins and pineapple or vegetables with chilies, cheese, or beans & finished with a sauce (red, green or mole). Yum!

And Christmas tamales are possibly the most important tamale of them all. Some will say Christmas just isn’t complete without one!  Making them before Christmas is part of the ongoing party that is the holiday season.  Moms, aunts, sisters and grandmothers spend days cooking, shaping, steaming and laughing, all in the name of the Christmas tamale. There is a saying that you can never cook tamales angry or they will just never cook! True or not, assembling tamales is best done with loved ones, while laughing, singing and having fun. Tamales are usually made for festive occasions, so the making of tamales must be kept festive too.

Now the last thing to remember about tamales is how to eat them.  Don’t be greedy!  Try them one at a time, even if they are the same kind.  Tamales are for sharing, they are for loving and they are always going to be around as long as families have loved ones to share the secrets and laughter with.

Heart

Christian missionaries may have brought the religious teachings behind why we celebrate Christmas and Germans may have lent us their tannenbaums; but however the traditions were brought to each of us, it is the gathering of family and friends that keeps our holiday traditions alive and in turn, each tradition we share helps to keep our families close.

In both, or should I say, all countries, children are at the heart of Christmas.  Children embody the spirit of Christmas to the fullest.  The worries of moms and dads, who are busy making sure the food is prepared and decorations are perfect, are washed away by the wonder and awe that so often captivate the hearts and imaginations of their children.

From Guatemala to the US to Zambia, every family’s recipe for how to celebrate a perfect Christmas is different. Whether you make apple or pumpkin pies, pork tamales or chuchitos; traditions are how our family secrets get passed down from generation to generation.  It is in the unique ingredients of our own recipes for a perfect Christmas that inform our traditions and keep them alive for years to come.

I think Mario Flores, GV’s program outreach manager, puts it best when he said Christmas is a “playful time you enjoy yourself, family, and community”, it is the sense of “feeling really welcome” not because people don’t welcome you on other days, but that “that day is [just] more special” and in Guatemala Christmas is especially magical.

What is Culture Night?

By Noel Chapman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Diversity Workshop

Global Visionaries and The Mandala Center for Change present

DIVERSITY: EVOLVING FROM REALITY TO TRUTH

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.

Reflections from Trip Leader Katie Wallace

It’s the second to last day of the trip, our last day of work and just hours before our fiesta de despedida (farewell party). I’m sitting here overwhelmed by what we’ve seen, heard and done here in Guatemala in the previous two weeks.

As I prepare to head back to Seattle I begin to imagine what I’ll take home from Guatemala (aside from handmade earrings and hundreds of digital photos). I have memories of the steep, exhausting hill we climbed each day en route to the construction site. I have mental images of the lush hillsides, the cobblestone streets in Antigua and the beautiful smiling faces of the guatemaltecos that we greeted in every passing. I’ll carry with me new relationships, stronger relationships and a greater sense of peace than I had when we left.Above all these images and memories I am leaving with the desire to research. I want to know even more about Guatemalan history and politics. How can the current President of Guatemala be responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people? How was this former General elected by Guatemalans in 2011? This leaves me with feelings of disbelief, frustration, anger and wonder.

Learning is not measured by the number of pages read in a night or by the number of books read in a semester.
Education is not an act of consuming ideas, but of creating and recreating them.
– Paulo Freire

The most valuable and eye-opening experience has been spending time talking with my host brothers, 21 and 18, after dinner. Their wealth of knowledge about Guatemalan history and their passion to raise awareness about politics (of the past and present) are impressive and motivating. My older host brother has led large scale protests in Guatemala City, and my younger host brother won a speech contest while we were there. He spoke in the central park in Antigua about acknowledging Antigua’s true history. I am in awe that there is such little acknowledgement of the genocide and corruption that have taken place in their country. I have never personally known young adults so angry and yet genuinely convinced that change on a large scale is possible and attainable. I look forward to learning more, and I hope that they will continue to inspire youth in Guatemala and from the U.S. to learn and take action in their communities and on a global scale.