Tag Archives: environment

Summer Immersion Update – From Naomi!

Coming into this experience I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or what it would entail, but I feel as though I’m starting to catch on more. Working in the hospital again this year has been incredible. To be honest, I feel as though it has almost been a bit harder this year. For the first two days that we spent in the hospital, I found myself leaving with a sense of panic. I kept on feeling as though I had no time to spend with the patients and the friends I had created last year and also make time to create new connections. Last year I left here with the idea of applying to Youth Board, which provided me with the small sense of hope that I might return. This year, though, I realize that it would be very difficult, if even possible, to return in the coming years and visit my friends in the hospital, which is a terrifying and sad thought.

Things have been really great though overall and I’m still a bit overwhelmed and astonished that I’m actually back here. Leading is definitely more exhausting than I could ever have imagined. I feel like the Junior Leaders have many behind the scenes responsibilities, which are difficult to notice from the outside, so I don’t have a perfect image to replicate. Many of the responsibilities and tasks we have are fairly simple and would be quickly accomplished by one person, but in the effort to foster teamwork, we delegate different parts of the job to different people. It is very important and provides the participants with an opportunity to practice their leadership skills. It is just a much more tiring process when you have to delegate, check in, confirm that the job was completed, and reflect for each individual task. It absolutely pays off, though, when you see someone that was once shy and timid share, open up to the group, and blossom in the work they are doing and people they are interacting with. It really is incredible. I can’t wait to see how other develop as well.

-Naomi Rothenberg (Mercer Island High School Class of 2016, incoming first year student at Willamette University)


Summer Trip – Student and Staff Poetry

The ember in the night
By Aiden Behar
When you find darkness it seems to consume you.
What is not known that in every dark place there is light to be found.
In even the darkest spot in hell there is light existing if only a whisper it is there.
The light is awaiting to be found and become alive, but it needs you and you need it.
Many of us fail to look and so we may never find.
But know that if you look you will find and that light will forever shine.

Untitled Works:

By Torin Frost
As I write on this paper, it makes me wonder, where will the piece of paper slumber. Will it be recycled and wrote on again, what about my pen? Where will it end? When it runs out of ink in the ocean will it sink, perhaps a weapon in a bar fight, for someone with too much to drink what do you think? Just look at what we have, just to make it easier cut than in half, then divide it by ten and share half with your friend and with all these possessions, what then? Because the men and the women that are currently alive will be long gone by 3025, 1000 years long? Ha to us. But to earth it’ll seem shorter than a trip on the bus, but really have some trust only pause and think. We have so many resources and they are continuing to shrink. Because for every billion people, they’ll be a billion more and I don’t think we realize what we really have in store.

By Julia Shaw
Torrents of water
A zap of electricity
A groan of thunder
The tin rood hums its song
And now it reaches it chorus
Now the final bridge
Now its close verse
Now its lust measure
And the song is over
The rain has stopped

By Roxanne Trager
We only remember the winners
Who came in first, who has the most money
We don’t remember who tried the hardest
Or who overcame the most or who cheered the loudest
We celebrate and revere people who did horrendous things
Columbus. Andrew Jackson and despite knowing their mistakes,
We repeat them.
That’s the definition of crazy.
Doing something over and over again, expecting different results
We ignore what we know
Looking for a quick solution or just trying to pretend what’s happening isn’t
Ignorance won’t make problems go away
Sick people, hungry people, mean people
And just because your bubble hasn’t been popped Doesn’t mean the same is true for others.

By Surita Spigner
The beautiful cell
Our world is an unbalanced ecosystem
Beauty is a glorious mountain, a baby girl
Or bit a large mansion, a pretty woman
Do we stop to help grow a tree, an organization, a child
Or to expand an account, a paycheck or undeserved honors
Can we justify the reforestation of tropical region
Or instead the construction of a strip mall or highway?
Could a lawyer find the innocent innocent
Or the guilty without fault?
Yes to both
But this is not balance
Balance requires positive and negative sides
A yes and a no
An equivalent charge to the struggle global cell
One must say yes to what is right, a seed is planted.
A no to the “empeorando”
The worsening of this beauty
Which is us, our ecosystem, our cell, our mountain, child, tree our organization.
Our global vision.

By Duncan Koontz 
Global Visionaries on a global vision
Working as one for a global mission.

GV circle, shaped like the earth.
Shaping environments by moving dirt.

This is the moment of truth census
Was it, is it past, present, future tenses.

Where have I come
Where will I be

GV, I think it will change me.

“It is up to us. It is up to you.” By Courtney Greenley

(A Day in the Life of a Global Visionaries Assistant Program Manager)

STRANGER:  So what brought you to Seattle?

COURTNEY: I am working for a small non-profit called Global Visionaries.

STRANGER: Oh!  I have never heard of it…Does it have something to do with eye care?

COURTNEY: (chuckle) In a nutshell, it coordinates a youth leadership program that culminates to an immersion experience in Guatemala.

STRANGER: Wow.  That sounds really neat.  So what do you do there?

COURTNEY: I create future global leaders.  And what do you do?

STRANGER: (Silence)

(The Monologue)

COURTNEY: I, Courtney Greenley, have breathed, worked and lived behind the scenes of Global Visionaries (GV) for the past eleven months.  Every day, the staff of GV straps up their work boots and prepares themselves for what they think they will be doing on that particular day.  Unbeknownst to them, a jackhammer will be outside the window all day, the server will crash and the phones will not stop ringing.  Without dropping a beat, the GV staff shuts the windows, blasts holiday music, recovers the server and cheerfully answers the phone.  Who does that?!  The answer is simple: A passionate team of people who believe in creating a just and sustainable future through youth leadership.

(The Moral of the Story)

NARRATOR: Global Visionaries is a community made up of individuals who strive to create change.  This may be as small as buying direct trade coffee, or as large as coordinating a World Water Week.  There are 365 days, 52 weeks, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes in one year.  Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi lived by the same rules of time, but what they did with their time was undeniably remarkable.  Even Gandhi couldn’t snag a time-turner from Hermione Granger.

Marian Wright Edelman challenges the nation addicted to electronics and fast food.  “A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone.  We are it.  It is up to us.  It is up to you.”  The clock is ticking…and what do you do?

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.

Final Summer 2012 Trip Update

Saludos desde San Miguel Escobar,

Just as in the beginning everything was all about firsts: first time meeting the chapines, first time meeting homestay families, first days of language school and work, now everything is the last. Here at the GV office, two large tents cover the courtyard as we prepare for our final group reflection and our Goodbye party.

Today was our last day of work, and tonight will be our final goodbye with the Chapines. We started off with a traditional burning of fireworks to celebrate Cora’s birthday. There was laughter, water fights, and some tears, but mostly we are all just grateful to be able to enjoy the brief time we have left in Guatemala.

I look forward to seeing you at the airport. I will leave you with some further updates and reflections written by our junior leaders, Reed and Ari.

ARI: It is truly a wonder to see the changes among the individuals, and the change in the dynamic of the entire group over the course of a few short weeks here in Guatemala. I remember meeting all of them together for the first time and all I could feel was a huge amount of awkwardness between everyone. Now, it’s as though that awkwardness never existed.

I wish all of you were able to see it happen with your own eyes! But you’ll definitely see the change in your children when they get home. I remember my parents telling me that when I came back from my trip a year ago, I’d transformed from a naive teenager to a young adult with convictions. It’s not hard to believe that 2 weeks here in Guatemala could do that to a person. A lot of them will come back with a whole new perspective on everything. Some of them will want to come back to Guatemala. Some of them will tell you that they’ve made some of the best friends they’ll ever meet. A lot of them (I’m hoping) will be joining Youth Board in the next year and will become future Jr. Leaders like myself.

We’ve had so many memorable moments. From water fights on the construction site, Simon and Sean’s creation of the Fun-O-Meter ranging from Malo to Bueno to Perfecto, Angela’s guitar skills, Jenna’s singing, Torin’s handstands, and Isabella’s constant hunger, and so many other things that it would be impossible to list everything, it’s easy to say that this group has made memories to last a lifetime. I’m sure everyone misses all of you, but I can say on behalf of the whole group that they’re all having the time of there lives here.

I’m honored and have been blessed with this opportunity to be a Jr. Leader for this group. I love every single one of them!

REED (written Monday):

This morning, GV participants were given the choice of either taking the morning off to be with their families or returning to the hospital (Obras Sociales Santo Hermano Pedro) in Antigua, which all participants toured on Saturday.

Yesterday, the entire group, Guatemalan teens included, took a two-hour bus ride to the Mayan ruins of Iximche. After a short session of storytelling from several Guatemalans whose families had been marginalized by the armed conflict throughout the 20th century, students got the chance to explore the ruins, with no shortage of pictures taken.

This afternoon, the entire group will get together once again for the “Coffee Tour” – an introduction to the process of coffee farming, various recent inventions for expediting the processing of coffee, and the history and politics surrounding that five-dollar cup of Starbucks coffee we bought this morning.

The preceding week was the participants’ time to fall into the rhythm of things. Nearly every weekday began with two-and-a-half to three hours in the students’ respective work teams – the Reforestation team lugged hoes, machetes, tree saplings, and five-plus-gallon water jugs up the hillside in Cerro del Nino. The Hospital team cultivated a week’s worth of compassion in a place where a single friendly touch is a rare treat for patients, as well as preparing for the tours and reflections they facilitated on Saturday for the rest of the group. The young men and women of Construction flexed and lifted away to help raise the walls of a brand new school in Cerro del Nino, and ended the week with an all-out water fight that included an ambush on the returning Reforestation team. Afternoons at the La Union language school kept students’ language skills sharp, and brief runs to nearby bakeries kept their bellies full.

After a sufficiently relaxing weekend (and Monday,) participants will return to their very last day in work teams tomorrow. For Reforestation and Construction, this will mean perhaps the most physically exhausting day yet – for Hospital, this will likely mean a day of bittersweet goodbyes.

With three days left in the journey, the entire Global Visionaries Summer 2012 group is able to reflect on the experiences that have transformed them, the hard work that has strengthened them, the cultural education that has made them more aware of their roles as U.S. Americans, and the support from one another that has pushed all of them to discover new and unexpected leadership opportunities.

Traveling Teachers Reflect on the Summer Trip So Far…

Greetings from the Summer Trip. Emily and Diana are two of our traveling teachers and this has been their experience thus far. Stay tuned for pictures:

Emily Estep

“Yeah, because, you know, YOLO”

Sitting on the plane about to leave Seatac airport last Wednesday morning I was listening in to the conversation of my two GV participant seatmates.  One had been a student of mine in Spanish class at Nathan Hale the past year and the other was a Junior Leader, a participant returning in her second year to take advantage of a new leadership opportunity.  As a young teacher, I usually feel pretty competent keeping up with the slang of my students, but now they had me confused.

“Yolo…?”  I looked at them, waiting for an explanation.

“Yolo – you only live once!”

“Ahh, got it.”

The term was new to me, but the idea, of course, was not.  “Life is short”, “Carpe diem”, certainly we’re all familiar with the idea of making the most out of life, but it’s something that I, and I think many others, still struggle with seizing, putting into practice, feeling that we are really able to live.  During the past week in Guatemala, YOLO has proven to be a theme.  It’s been taken to a new level for me, however, and I’ve seen the same thing happening in the student participants as well.  If you only live once, we are realizing, then each moment takes on a new, grand significance.  I have found myself, and the students around me, slowly feeling ourselves overcome by the grandness of each and every moment we live here, overwhelmed by the importance of giving our all, our best, our absolute presence to each minute that passes.

Typical mornings in Guatemala consist of splitting into three separate groups for a few hours of community service work alongside Guatemalan teens.  One group works on reforesting a nearby area, one on the construction of a school close to the reforestation site, and the last, which I am a part of, works in a “hospital” in the center of the city of Antigua.  While referred to as the “hospital” by GV participants, this institution is really a permanent home to approximately two hundred Guatemalans, children, adults, and elders, with mental and physical disabilities whose families cannot care for them.  The grand majority are in wheelchairs and most cannot carry on a conversation.  Many do not speak at all.  Most are never visited by family or friends.  Our work there is simply to spend time with these people.  Time.  Moments.  On our first day in the hospital, as I sat holding the hand of an old woman who could not respond to my question of “¿Cómo se llama usted?” but slowly lifted her head to look into my eyes and smile, I was struck by the power of that small moment.  Some days as we return from our snack break for the second part of our morning in the hospital, I’ve caught myself thinking “Oh, only 45 minutes left – how is that enough to make an impact?  We need hours, days, weeks, months!”  But without fail, I am reminded again and again of the enormity of the briefest of moments.  I have seen heads slowly shifted, with great effort, to make eye contact.  I have watched lips that seem to have spent years pursed into a frown breaking into an unexpected smile.  I have heard raucous, joyful laughs exploding from the mouths of people who cannot speak and whose eyes seemed empty at first approach.  I am continually overwhelmed by the power of a few minutes, even a few precious seconds.

I know the student participants are experiencing this same shift towards a more present, conscious experience of the moments in their life.  Last night we had our first whole group reflection.  Sitting in a “GV circle” (a powerful ring of interconnectedness arranged so that everyone can see the eyes of every other person in the circle) we shared what had most struck our hearts in our time so far in Guatemala.  Over and over again, I heard students speak of wanting to give more of themselves in every moment of their work, of becoming aware that the root of happiness lies in simple moments spent with people they care about, and of feeling their worldview and attitude toward life permanently shifted.  They are changing, they recognize that change, and they want to bring it back to the United States with them.

We all know life is precious, but through the work we’ve done in Guatemala, be it physically demanding or heart wrenchingly emotional, we’ve been given the opportunity to internalize the incredible power of each moment we live.  We will return to Seattle with a deeper understanding of what it means to be present, an enormous gift, because, you know…YOLO.


Diana Burga

Last night as I lay on my bed reflecting on the day, I could not believe a week had passed since arriving to Guatemala for the Global Visionaries summer 2012 trip. So much had happened in just that week.  A week ago from today I felt jet lagged, irritable and I’ll admit that being surrounded by 40 teenagers all day every day with a jam packed activity schedule of activities sounded less than awesome at the moment.

I’m a Spanish teacher at Garfield high school and to anyone who teaches they can empathize with how hectic and stressful the end of the year is. I frantically tried to wrap my head around the experience that was about to come but found myself feeling anxious and unsure if this was really the best way to spend my time off, after all I had just come from devoting my time and energy for the last nine months to 150 students.

I chose to be on the reforestation team because I looked forward to the physical challenge and being out in nature. And let me say, the first day was HARD. I didn’t take into account how much the altitude would affect me, as well as just how physical the labor would be. We “gringos” paired up with the “chapines” or “Guatemaltecos” to learn about the work we would be accomplishing. After hiking up a steep hill we had to walk another 20 minutes through the lush vegetation carrying machetes, water jugs and a box with snacks for our group. I was shocked at how weak I felt. After all, I go to the gym three times a week and practice Bikram yoga once a week. I lead an “active” lifestyle by American standards. I was in awe at my new chapin friend Mich and how what took me 5 minutes to cut down, be completed in just three swings with the machete. And while I needed to take constant breaks for water and catching my breath, the chapines worked for three hours straight without any breaks.

After a few days of working closely with the chapines and feeling more confident with the tools, I felt powerful up on the hill. Looking over at all the weeds and invasive plants we cleared in just a few days is one of the most accomplishing things I have ever felt. Knowing that we are helping the farmers and working side by side with the chapines of the area is both incredibly satisfying and humbling.

But the most incredible aspect of this experience is seeing how hard every single person in our group works. Chapines and students alike are all exhausted and sore from the previous days work, but no one complains. This really helped me to get out of my self-involved funk and realize that what we are accomplishing is much bigger than me and my problems and has provided me a much needed perspective. Being surrounded by such positivity, beauty and peace has truly been therapeutic lesson I will never forget. Gracias grupo reforestacion, I am so grateful for you!

First Summer Trip 2012 Update

Saludos desde San Miguel,

As day four concludes, rain beats down on the roof of the GV office. Our boots are dirty. Many of us are sporting blisters from a productive morning of reforestation in Cerro Del Niño. It has been a gorgeous four days. We arrived in Guatemala City with the majority of our boxes (the remaining ones have been located!) and drove back through a darkened country side to our homestays. Arriving at night meant that participants had their first real glimpse of Guatemala first thing in the morning.

Though exhausted, I was up with the roosters (literally), breathing in the fresh air and marveling once more at the simple beauty of the mountains at sunrise. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, black beans, and fried plantains I headed down to the GV office where the Gringo participants and the Chapin participants met for the first time. In a departure from our usual itinerary we grouped up and went to the Garbage dump all together. For many of our Guatemalan participants, this was their first time visiting the dump which made the experience that much richer. After lunch with our homestay families,we visited Antigua to exchange money and then it was time to rest a bit.

The next day we jumped right into work. The Hospital work team headed to Antigua to meet their patients while Construction and Reforestation drove even further up into the mountains near Cerro Del Nino. Cero Del Nino is the site of a school GV built several years ago, so already we felt a sense of accomplishment and an excitement for things to come. This trip the Construction work team will be building a community center so that everyone in Cerro Del Nino will finally have a place to meet.

I am on the Reforestation team. We started our work day by walking up a huge paved hill. If I ever had any illusion about being in good shape, they are gone now, but we did all make it. There we took a moment to refill our water and play some games to help us get to know our Chapin counterparts. Many of the Chapin students have been volunteering with GV all year on different work teams so it was nice to see some old faces mixed in with the new. There was that first few awkward moments, but soon everyone was chatting in Spanish, laughing, and playing hand clapping games. Then we gathered our tools and more water and hiked up into the woods where we are clearing some brush before we plant 700 trees. One of our goals in planting these trees is to prevent erosion. Last Summer while we were here there was a huge down pour that caused a landslide in Pastores that knocked down 60 homes. Hopefully we can help prevent that from happening again.

All in all everyone is doing well, eating good food, making friends, and really make the best of this adventure. After work we had lunch and then it was on to our first day of school at La Union in Antigua. To celebrate our arrival all 40 teachers that will be working with us formed a human tunnel and clapped for us as we entered. Then we formed a circle and did short introductions before everyone paired up with their teachers for their first lessons. So many firsts…and yet for many it seems like they’ve been here before. In my next update I will share some exerpts from the LOD journals, but for now I will leave you with 3 poems written during our poetry session this afternoon.

Reagan Jackson
Program Manager


Untitled Poem
by Torin Frost

In this world of ours there’s few things that we need.
To drink and to sleep, and also to feed.
And the water we need simply flls from the sky,
but this only makes me wonder – why?

Does the sky cry for people who need clean water?
To the mothers and fathers, for their son and their daughter?
Or is it something else – involving moisture and science,
or a gift from God
it’s a necessity
our reliance.

But there’s a defiance to this system, it’s giant corporations.
Exporting to nations and having celebrations,
for profit these days seems to come before people.
And these people have the nerve to say everyone is equal.

Well, we’re not.

Because if rain is free, then why does water cost o much money?
And land and food, I thought it belonged to the Earth,
but money is needed the second after birth.
And if it rained everyday, water still wouldn’t be free,
not even to people like you and me,
because there’s something that comes before us,
and I hate to see,
if only it was us that came before money.


by Cora Wolken

I don’t know what happiness is.
I see it everywhere I go.
The ones with nothing have the most.
Why is that? Does money really not buy happiness?
I walk around here today
everyone has a smile, a spark to their eyes
they have a skip to their walk
a laughter to their voice. I know they are happy.
What does it take to be happy though?
I can’t just put on a smile and
add a skip to my walk, I am not happy.
I want an inner happiness
the one I see in the who appreciate,
the ones who don’t want more
but are content with just being there today
they know things happen for a reason
even though the reason is unknown.
Someone who is happy is someone I envy..

Untitled Poem
by Angela Tang

We chop down trees
We plant more
We run out of toothpaste
We buy more
We run out of ideas
We think more
We run out of space
We move more.
But what happens when we run out,
out of space, out of ideas, out of toothpaste, out of trees.
Will the sun suddenly explode to create new life again?
Or would we finally stop?



Spring Trip-Reflections from Week 1

Saludos de Guatemala,

It’s been almost a week since our journey began and so much has happened. Our days have taken on a pattern. We wake up, enjoy breakfast in the homes of our homestay families, then at 7:30am we’re off to the office to meet up with the chapines and divide into work teams. During this trip our three work teams are Coffee, Construction, and Hospital. Due to the hard work of our GV staff we have just as many chapin participants as we do gringos, so everyone works with a buddy.

Today in coffee our goal was to cut 400lbs of coffee. We grabbed our snack (sweet bread and oranges), some big containers of water, and all the tools and baskets we would need, then piled into pick-up trucks and rode up the hillside overlooking San Miguel into the coffee fields owned by Don Manuel (Helen and Hannah’s host dad). Don Manual talked to us about the plants and showed us which color beans to pick (the red ones that look like cherries) and then we set about filling our baskets. Lee and Reina were the pair to gather the most, followed by Ra’layzia who picked twice as fast as everyone else. Everyone had fun chatting and in some cases singing. Then when we had our break we talked about the price of coffee and also about the Garbage Dump.

Sandra directing Cafe duties for the day.

The majority of the chapines have never seen the dump either and were surprised to hear about the people living there. They have decided to go see it for themselves. Maya did a great job of translating. By the end of the morning we had cut about 300lbs of coffee…pretty good, but not quite up to the goal we had set, so we plan to work even harder tomorrow. Don Manuel says for that amount of coffee we would have earned about 120 quetzales…which is less than $20.


The construction work team is laying the foundation for a multi-purpose room in Cerro del Nino in Pastores. This means lots of moving cinder blocks and removing wheel barrows full of rocks. Many people are sore, but everyone seems excited to see what they are able to accomplish each day. When it’s finished, the community will have a place to host memorials, meetings, or any sort of large gatherings. Every day there is a family of little kids who live in the neighborhood who come to help with the building process. Today Ismael pushed them around in a wheel barrow and let them film some of the experience. We will try to upload some videos to the blog soon, but our computers are running slow. Each participant has set personal goals for themselves. Today Teisha accomplished her goal of speaking more Spanish and Mitchell managed to greet each chapin on his work team in Spanish.

Teisha and Flori

The hospital work team, is perhaps one of the most emotionally difficult teams. Participants spend their mornings coloring, painting fingernails, blowing bubbles, or beading with the patients. Today there was mass so Mary Anne, Devin and Alli accompanied patients to the church inside of the hospital, while others worked with the few patients left in the wards. Jessica played the guitar for a man who used to play before he lost the use of his hand and she says it was one of the best experiences of her trip. Mostly today was an opportunity for the gringos and chapines to play games and get to know one another better.

After work, everyone returns home for lunch and a short siesta, and then it’s time to get on the bus to Antigua for language lessons at La Union. La Union is a lovely school set in the heart of downtown Antigua. Students sit at small wooden tables spread out across a courtyard. Everyone is at a different level, so each class is completely personalized. Our native Spanish speakers are watching movies and working on grammar or writing. Our beginners are learning how to ask the questions they’ve been wanting to ask their homestay families. Tonight after class, we will have a short reflection here, then it’s off to salsa lessons with Dona Carmen. Here are some reflections from our Leaders of the Day.

“When I woke up I was nervous about being an LOD, but Porter told me that it’s easy, so I got a little calm. But it was our first day of work so I was kind of nervous. When we were going up the steep hill, I was nervous because it was so steep! When we turned the corner I thought we were done, but we were just ¼ of the way there. When we finally got to the top we all rested. When we got into a GV circle, I translated a lot, but that’s a daily thing. I don’t mind. Surprisingly my goal was to talk Spanish more. I has it because sometimes I feel weird speaking it. After translating I felt more sure of myself. When we got to the end of working, I pushed everyone to give a final effort. There are soooo many differences between to US and Guatemala. The houses, the people, the surroundings, everything is so different. I learned that being a leader takes hard work, you got to set the example and it is hard especially if you’re working construction because it’s demanding labor. But I pushed myself to set an example. Overall it was a good first day of work and school.”

“Today was the first day of work on the coffee farm. We met the chapines at the GV office. It was kind of hard to talk with them but we all tried. Walking to the work site everyone tried to pair up with a chapin. I was with Raul and I learned that he really likes to play soccer. It’s really interesting how if you asked a group of Americans what they liked to do in their free time there would probably be many different activities, while everyone I’ve talked to here says first and foremost soccer. At the worksite we played a name game and then started to work. The process is simple, yet complicated. You have to measure exactly so that the plants grow correctly. At one point Nilda and Reina taught us a hand clapping game that was uncannily similar to quack diddly oro. Work was very satisfying but difficult.”

“I made a new friend. His name is Angel. He can’t talk so I don’t know much about him. When we first got there, we went to the special school and I was looking around to see who I would go to. He smiled at me, so I went to go talk to him. We colored and then we started to bead. I asked him if he has a girlfriend and he said yes and point to Kimberly. Then he laughed and shook his head and pointed to me. Since then we’ve become friends.”

“During school we walked to the bank with our teachers to exchange money. The center of Antigua was really beautiful. I was really excited about the level of conversation I could have with my teacher. After school we came back to the office to reflect on the day and how the trip has been so far. Being LOD I has to lead the discussion, which for e was way out of my comfort zone and quite difficult. I’ve learned that I actually can do it through and also that I should participate more in discussions. I’m always afraid to say something dumb, so I psyched myself out. But I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if I say something “wrong”. What I take away from today is that people are all the same, whether they are from the USA or Guatemala. Also I learned that I’m capable of being a leader and even though I never would have volunteered to be a LOD if it were optional, I’m so glad that I had to do it because I learned a lot of new things about myself.”

The next update will be written by our Junior Leaders, Erica, Lena, and Emma.

Reagan Jackson

GV Program Manager

2012 EarthCorps Homestays Needed!

EarthCorps is in the process of recruiting homestays for their international participants, who will join the program in early June and finish in mid-December 2012.

  • Be a mentor in a young person’s life
  • Become a part of the EarthCorps global community
  • Build a global, travel network
  • Receive a monthly stipend
  • Expand your horizons through cultural diversity, immersion, exposure, and perspective

Oscar Hernandez, a member of the Global Visionaries staff in Guatemala, will be one of the international participants joining EarthCorps for six months.  After EarthCorps, Oscar will undertake an additional internship at the GV office in Seattle.  Please see the interactive flier for information about what the hosting experience is like, a slideshow that gives you a sense of the international participant’s experience and most important perhaps, a link to the EarthCorps website page where you can read specific short bios on the individuals who are coming.  Please note that homestays need to be within a 45 minute bus commute of EarthCorps office in Magnuson Park.

Please contact Su Thieda, EarthCorps’ Program Director for more information at (206) 391-3640 or su@earthcorps.org.

Participant Spotlight: OSCAR GARCIA

Espresso de Esperanza and Global Visionaries

Hola!  My name is Oscar Garcia.  Seven years ago, a group of friends and I (one of whom is now my wife) set off in pursuit of our dream of creating a company.  Of the many options we looked at, we decided to sell coffee as it is a product that is locally produced in Antigua, Guatemala.  Also, the coffee produced in this region is very high-quality and well-known in many countries across the globe.  In collaboration with local farmers and amazing support from an American from Minnesota (who helped us get our clients and believed in us), we were able to make our first shipment abroad of a little over 500 pounds of coffee.  In the beginning, we sold coffee to GV participants when they came down to Guatemala.  In time, we founded Espresso de Esperanza, Inc. and today, we’re able to export coffee almost anywhere in the world.

Shortly after Espresso de Esperanza was created, I joined the staff of GV and increasingly worked with groups of students coming to Guatemala.  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to make many friends both abroad and at home, work with farmers in our villages to produce and harvest coffee, construct classrooms to improve educational access and improve our environment through the reforestation of many areas that faced depletion.  Through EarthCorps, I now have the opportunity to learn more about caring for the environment and gain other experiences that I will take with me upon my return to Guatemala.

Ecological Footprint: Water Usage

Each time you take a 15 minute shower you are using 90 gallons of water. Each time you flush a toilet you use 5 gallons of water. Each day more than 1 billion people walk 3 hours to collect water.

Ecological footprint is the measurement of human demand on the Earth’s resources. According to the Sustainable Scale Project, the Ecological Footprint “is rooted in the fact that all renewable resources come from the earth”.

This last week, participants in Global Visionaries’ leadership program learned about the ecological footprint at their third culture night this year.

After the students participated in an activity which sparked conversation about ecological footprint, the Leaders in Training directed a discussion.

“Everything we choose to do affects somebody else whether you know it or not.”

Students pointed out that we are all giving and taking—yet some countries take more than others.

Youth Board leaders demonstrated the difference between the ecological footprint of the United States and third world countries by pouring popcorn kernels into a bowl. The sound of the popcorn kernels hitting the bowl represented the impact those countries are making on the environment. The sound of popcorn representing third world countries was very short, but the sound representing the U.S. lasted a full minute.

The students noticed a big difference between the way the U.S. uses resources and the way third world countries use resources. The economic disparity is also great. One half of the world is living on $2 a day. Most of us make more in one hour than they make in a day, as one student pointed out. The difference in priorities between the U.S. and third world countries is displayed in this comparison—one group only uses what they need.

At the end of the night, students made a commitment to reducing their ecological footprint by being conscious of their water usage. The leaders acknowledged that this one step might not seem like it will make a big difference but pointed out that lasting change begins with habits.

GV participants were encouraged to compare their personal needs with their personal wants. For example, if a student wants to purchase drive-thru coffee each morning they can save money and lower impact on the environment by drinking GV coffee instead. That decision would save a person $56 each month.

Several ideas on saving resources were given by the students such as turning off lights, carpooling, buying used instead of new and walking instead of driving.

Using water is just one of the ways we leave a permanent ecological footprint on Earth. We can all make little changes in our water usage habits that will lead to a lasting impact on the earth.

For more information on saving water go to:  http://www.uri.edu/smile/documents/EveryDropCounts_Grades5-12WaterLesson.pdf