Tag Archives: development

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 : 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?


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


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


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.

To a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

Co-Authored by Chris Fontana, Executive Director.

Peter Bloomquist, one of our Northwest gems and one man think tank, teaches a course on Global Leadership at Seattle University (among many other exceptional activities that forward the education of global leaders, both young and seasoned. Peter asked me to visit his class as a guest speaker. In preparation for my lecture, he had me read a few of the articles from the curriculum. In one article, I stumbled upon one of the great mistakes that international development organizations make. GV fell right into that bucket. Do you know the expression: “to a hammer, everything looks like a nail?”

Since 2004, GV has built 19 classrooms and planted over 18,000 trees in Guatemala. When GV Guatemalan staff interview community leaders on the needs of the community, they have prefaced their comments with: GV works in reforestation and school construction. What does your community need?

Of course, you know how we were answered (we need reforestation and school rooms). And so it was in 2011 that GV changed its approach to community development and collaboration. Today, GV enters into a longer dialogue and inquiry with community members and committees as well as elected officials to find out what the most pressing needs of the community are.

The community told Aurelio Hernandez, GV’s Country Director, that the classrooms were the most important unfulfilled need at the time. However, the classrooms were built on land that was previously used to accommodate important community gatherings.

In Spring of 2012, GV began working once again with the city of Pastores in the Cerro del Niño  area that many hundreds of GV students know so well first hand. GV has worked with the community to build seven classrooms (kindergarten through 6th grade). Previously, there were no school rooms and most children did not attend school because parents did not want them risking crossing the highway to get to the closest school. Many Guatemalan children wished to attend school, and wished to help GV volunteers in any way they could.

“I was surprised how a lot of the kids wanted to help out. Anytime we went up there, there were the same kids asking to help,” said Michelle Pham, summer participant in the construction team. “One day, I was walking to fill up my water bottle, and there was a little 6-7 year old boy who asked to hold my water bottle for me while I filled it up. I was surprised how strongly he wanted to help.”

All year, GV youth leaders, both Guatemalan and U.S. Americans, have been working hard to build the two story community center which sits atop a hill that dwarfs those in our beloved Seattle.

“Working in Guatemala taught me how easy we have it and how people can work every day of their lives and still be happy taking the small things out of life,” reflected summer participant, Jacob Merkle.

In the end, we have all learned an important lesson on what it means to listen and to truly build a global community.

Focusing on Latin America Event

The World Affairs Council, in collaboration with the Seattle International Foundation, will be hosting “Focusing on Latin America,” an event exploring the relationship between the United States and Latin America featuring Mark Feierstein, USAID Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The event will further showcase numerous local and national organizations (including Global Visionaries!) that engage in the  humanitarian work occurring in Latin America. Come share your thoughts and hear what GV and other organizations have to say about heavily debated issues in Latin America!

This is a great leadership opportunity for students to hear from USAID’s top government official about U.S. relations with Latin America.


Event Details:

When:  June 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: Microsoft Conference Center, McKinley Room (16156 NE 36th St,
Redmond, WA 98052)

There is no cost to attend this event

Facebook event link:  http://on.fb.me/LHiD1b

Second Annual Founders Club Event Demonstrates GV’s Commitment to Diversity

Global Visionaries is proud to announce that the second annual Founders Club Event raised more than $27,500 to benefit GV’s scholarship fund.

Held on March 25 at the home of Seattle photographer Art Wolf, this fundraising event featured guest speaker Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks North America and Starbucks International.

The money raised from this event will allow for more students of diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds to participate in the Seattle Leadership Program.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for making the Founders Club Event such a success,” said Jan Slack, GV’s Development & Executive Assistant.

“In particular, I want to extend my gratitude to Art Wolfe, Bill Clapp, Kay Bullitt, Molly Freed, Michael Gallelli and Francoise Martin.”

An additional thanks goes out to all the GV staff and interns who made this event possible. We could not do what we do without them.

Profile: Jose Aurelio Hernández Ordóñez

Aurelio Hernandez joined Global Visionaries in 2003 as a Logistics Coordinator during the Global Visionaries trip in Guatemala. After studying Business Administration in Francisco Marroquin University,  he understands  how important it is to get the communities involved in social work, and sees the big need for educational access, and the need to have schools in rural areas from Guatemala.   He started to work full time for Global Visionaries as Country Coordinator, in charge of trip logistics, looking for homestays, work sites, field trips, and finances during the trips in Guatemala. Three years later He started his responsibilities as Country Administration Coordinator in Guatemala, where supports the Administration and Development in all office operations including human resources, and volunteer coordination.