Tag Archives: equality

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.

Advertisements

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.

Alumni Spotlight: Emma Shull

Emma Shull, on el Panecillo overlooking the city of Quito, Ecuador.

If Global Visionaries had a poster child, Emma Shull just might be the “IT” girl.  Over the course of three years, Emma participated in our First Year Leadership Program, went on to serve as a member of the Youth Board and capped it all off as a Gap Year volunteer once she graduated from high school.  She’s currently wrapping up her undergraduate studies, but more on that later…

As a First Year participant, Emma traveled to Guatemala on the Summer Trip, where she worked on the construction work team and first met Billy Lopez (last month’s featured alumnus).   Asked why she decided to serve on the GV Youth Board, she responded that the inspiration came from a retreat workshop put on by the previous year’s YB pro-justice (PJ) team on the Theatre of the Oppressed.  Not surprisingly, she spent her year on the Youth Board passing on her pro-justice knowledge onto the succeeding group of First Years.  And then there was Ruthie Ditzler, whom Emma had met in her first year with GV; Ruthie made enough of an impression for Emma to decide to expand her role with GV as a Gap Year volunteer when the time came.  Emma spent her first six months undertaking work that was near and dear to her heart: developing the pro-justice curriculum and topics for GV workshops.  With GV’s help, she also applied for and obtained a Youth Venture grant (worth $1,000) to support her ongoing work.  The second half of Emma’s gap year was spent in Antigua, Guatemala, where she continued to develop her pro-justice work and expertise; this time adapting the model and theory for training of GV’s Guatemalan staff and volunteers.  Emma was careful in ensuring that what she taught reflected a Latino context.

One of the exercises that GV used to have its First Year participants do upon their return to the US was to write a letter addressed to him or herself, that would be received a year later.  In Emma’s letter to herself, there were three resolutions:

  1. Go back to Guatemala
  2. Attend a university that would provide opportunities to travel the world
  3. Use the knowledge gained during her time with GV to help other youth
  • Go back to Guatemala – did so as a Gap Year volunteer!

…and fast-forwarding to today for resolutions 2 and 3:

  • Attend a university that would provide opportunities to travel the world – Emma is getting ready to graduate (May 10th) from Long Island University Global College with a BA in Global Studies.  In the course of her undergraduate career, she has lived in Costa Rica, China and Ecuador.  Even more remarkably, her Gap Year in Guatemala was accepted for 18 credits as part of a “Life Experience Portfolio” towards graduation requirements, so she’s finishing a year early!
  • Use knowledge gained during time with GV to help other youth – Emma is currently undertaking a Spring internship with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project to promote leadership and activism among young women (particularly those of color).

Finally, some words directly from Ms. Emma herself…

Please describe how your experiences with GV have helped you to interact with people, cultures and environments outside of your own during your studies abroad.

– Above all, my skill as an observer is one I often attribute to my time with GV.  I appreciate how GV encourages participants to always ask questions and to reflect on observations.  My experience with GV directly influenced my decision to enroll at LIU Global as it is a school that emphasizes experiential learning.

Have you experienced any moments of profound insight, where you realized that had you not been a part of GV, your perception of an event or issue would be quite different?

– In general my time abroad always leads me to this conclusion.  The biggest concept I have taken with me abroad is the recognition of my systemic role in societal oppressions such as racism and imperialism. Without this point of reference my experiences abroad would be completely misconstrued.  GV has taught me to think critically (not negatively) about my surroundings and about the people I meet along the way.

One of the issues that GV participants sometimes face upon completing their time with us is tackling the question of how to continue living the mission in their own lives.  Beyond your internship with SNLP, what are your plans for continuing to be mindful of all that you’ve learned through GV and beyond in living a conscientious life?

–  I am passionate about youth and creative learning.  Wherever I am, and whatever I am doing, my role in the empowerment of youth will be essential.  As far as long term goals are concerned, one day I’d like to eventually start a youth-run Theatre of the Oppressed troupe.    

Do you have any advice for current GV participants (first year, YB or those considering a Gap Year with GV)?

– My advice to current participants is to really search within your community, in Seattle, and outside of Seattle who have similar sets of interests.  I feel that it is important to create a sense of community where you live, and GV (although a great community) can also become its own bubble.  Get out, and volunteer with other like-minded organizations and expand your network!  

GV Educates about Systematic Oppression

Pro-justice is a group of 11 Youth Board students who focus on social justice.

Youth Board is the second year program at Global Visionaries. These students facilitate the first year program.

Pro-justice is an opportunity for GV participants to take a deeper look into the social justice issues that were discussed in the first year leadership program.

Pro-Justice Youth Board members educate and train the first year participants. They do this by facilitating the anti-oppression workshop which takes place at the pre-trip retreat and the Pro-Justice culture night which takes place in January.

The topics that are focused on are racism, sexism, classism, ageism, able-bodyism, imperialism and environmental justice. Each topic is focused on for two weeks. Those isms are broken down to understand the large scale problems. For example, sexism is not just inequality at work but unequal opportunities.

 According to Josef Turecek, Pro-Justice coordinator, teaching youth about oppression is important because these isms affect every aspect of a person’s life.

“Pro-Justice is about navigating the world,” Josef said.

We can’t separate ourselves from systematic oppression, Josef said. Looking at these injustices is the core of GV.

The curriculum that Pro-Justice uses was written by Josef Turecek and has evolved in the past 3 years that Josef has been working with Youth Board.

Support GV Youth Board Leaders as they support the Dream Act

The three day National Immigrant Integration Conference– Building a Stronger Democracy: A New Decade for Immigrant Integration will be in Seattle Oct 24-26 featuring more than 200 speakers sharing on best practices in the U.S. and abroad on all issues regarding Immigrant integration!  The topics of the sessions include health, youth and education, civic engagement and policy.

Global Visionaries would like to send four Youth Board Leaders to learn how to effectively advocate for immigrant rights. The cost for each participant is $175. If you would like to support a  youth board leader, please consider a restricted donation to GV to support our youth as they learn how to advocate for human rights. Eleven states have ratified the Dream Act so far with Rhode Island being one of the most recent. Only 39 states to go!

Participants will learn how education policy and organization can support immigrant integration strategies in local communities:
– how support for teachers and parents can make a difference in the life outcomes for immigrant children
– how to design early education strategies to improve the future outcomes for immigrant children and their  families
– how youth and immigrant rights organizations are strategizing about increasing access to higher education for immigrant youth.

Please support a Youth Board student to attend this important conference!

Diversity: Evolving from Reality to Truth– A participatory workshop featuring Theatre of the Oppressed

Global Visionaries and The Mandala Center for Change presents:

DIVERSITY: EVOLVING FROM REALITY TO TRUTH

A participatory workshop featuring Theatre of the Oppressed

Facilitated by Cheryl Harrison & Marc Weinblatt

When: Dec. 3-4; 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 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.

This workshop is for community organizers, activists, teachers, social workers, therapists, workshop leaders, and anyone interested in re-humanizing humanity.

To register, contact:

Global Visonaries: (206) 322-9448; programs@global-visionaries.org

For Program info only, contact:

Mandala Center (360) 344-3435; info@mandalaforchange.com

Cheryl Harrison and Marc Weinblatt

Cheryl Harrison:

Former 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.

Summer Trip Update II

Greetings GV Community!

Unfortunately, we have been experiencing difficulties with our internet connection down in Guatemala and have not been able to get trip updates posted as frequently as we would have liked.  Reagan Jackson, our Program Manager, has sent her sincerest apologies.  However, she was able to download and send some recent pictures of the students, which I have posted on our Facebook page.  We will be working diligently to upload more , but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy the photos!

Sincerely,

The GV Communications Team

Greetings from Guatemala: Summer Trip Update I

Greetings from the Summer Trip!

“Bienvenidos a Guatemala. All seats and tray tables need to be in their upright positions as we prepare for landing.” I opened the window shade and turned to the two participants who were seated next to me. “This is it guys. We’re here.” We watched in silence as the plane cut through the layer of white clouds to reveal a glimpse of the lush tropical landscape below. Thick brown rivers snaked through green mountains scattered with small towns and farms cleared and planted in patchwork rows. Despite being exhausted you could see the excitement in the eyes of the kids when the realized that after months of preparation, we had finally made it to Guatemala.

We breezed through customs and were welcomed with open arms by our Guatemalan staff. Our first order of business was to load all of the supply drive boxes onto the bus. We formed a line and everyone pitched in, then we drove straight to the cemetery and the Guatemala City Dump. After a short walk through the cemetery, we arrive at a cliff overlooking the dump. I missed this part of the Spring Trip, so like the participants it was my first time actually experiencing where garbage goes.

If you ever need to convince someone to recycle, just take them to the dump. It was a strange and terrible sight; a mile-wide pit of refuse rife with vultures, wild dogs, and saddest of all, actual people. There were many people who, unable to find other occupations, ran along side the yellow trucks to have first pick of the newly dumped trash. And the garbage seemed endless. I counted no less than 80 trucks lined up to deliver more, and behind those were more trucks stretched beyond the limits of my eyesight. Mario shared with us that the people we were watching spent their days and in some cases their lives picking through trash for sellable items. It was hard to imagine enduring the stench for more than the few minutes we were
 there…and that was from the cliffs above. What must it feel like to be down there in the middle of it, surrounded by waste? Even before we made it to the GV office to meet up with our homestay families, we were already engaged in a serious discussion about poverty and the racial politics of where garbage gets dumped.

By the end of the first day I found myself deep in thought and thoroughly impressed with this group. Despite the lack of sleep, everyone maintained a positive attitude and seemed eager to dive in to the adventure. Now it’s day five. We’ve ventured into Antigua, started our work teams and gotten a chance to get acquainted with our homestay families. We also visited Segunda Cruz, a small town where GV built a school five years ago, where we met with local families and teachers and saw some of the end results of other trips.

I’ve been in awe of how much leadership I’ve seen in this group. When I ask for volunteers there are always more than enough to complete the task. They work together and no one complains, even when the rain soaks through their ponchos. Yesterday when we visited the Mayan Cultural Arts Center four students chose to translate during the presentation. They even worked out a rotation so that they were able to distribute the job evenly. It’s been amazing, but don’t take my word for it.

Here is a bit more about the experience from the eyes of the participants as recorded in their Leader of the Day Journals:

“It didn’t really hit me that we were going to Guatemala until we were on the bus in Guatemala. Other people were getting excited at the Seattle Airport. Guatemala is so beautiful. Everything is so different. The rain reminds me of Seattle. The bus ride to our homestays was very fun. We danced for a while. The town seems so small and packed in.”

“Our homestay is also very beautiful.  You walk through a black garage like door into a courtyard.  All the rooms are off the courtyard. They have so little compared to Americans,but they have all they need. Spanish is the hard part. There are so many words. I don’t know. I want to get better and I know I will.”

“Attempting to lead a rowdy group of 40 teenagers is pretty hectic. Especially after they’ve experienced a 4 hour red eye flight from Seattle to Houston. It takes a lot to be a leader. I definitely found myself struggling multiple times.”

“Our host family is the cutest, nicest family I’ve ever met! Regardless of the language barrier for me, I found little problem falling in love with the three little gris, Daniela, Andrea, and Fatimal.  Their obsession with Dora, Disney Princesses, and iCarly is the most adorable thing in the world! I love my family so far.  Overall, it was a good first day! I’m excited for the rest of the trip!”

“The next most exciting thing was the ride up the mountain in the pick-ups. I was so impressed we only had one pick up get stuck because we were  driving around mini canyons in the ground. The bumpiness however did not detract from the gorgeous view. When we got high enough we could see the tops of the surrounding hills which hosted beautiful farmland (corn I think), a small glassy lake, and trees that looked like palm trees. Now finally, onto the highlight of the day: The families and the school. I have so much respect for everyone involved in building and running the school ‘la escuela’, but despite the gratitude of all of these people for the GV students, I didn’t feel like all my fundraising efforts was connected at all until we were personally welcomed into our family’s home. It broke my heart when our father kept reiterating that he did no have much to give: ‘I don’t even have chairs for you to sit on.” My heart was screaming that’s not the important thing. The family had offered their hospitality and shown us the strength of their character, so what more could we ask for. There were 8 people in our family living in 1 small room. It was awkward, but when a few of us explained that only 2-4 people lived in our houses. I was sad the mother didn’t talk at all and I still wonder why.  She said a few words when I shook her small hand, but I mean I wanted to know her story. It touched my heart and re-opened my eyes when  I saw how hungrily  the family ate and drank. I wonder how often they get to eat.”

“I really enjoyed the Mayan Cultural Arts Center today. This really helped me learn more about Guatemala as a whole. Yesterday I saw some of the economical problems Guatemalans face and today I saw some of the political problems Guatemalans, especially Mayan’s face.  Discrimination is one the world’s worst traits. It has brought down many cultures all around the world. And even though in some places things are being done to stop it, it is still growing. I can’t help but think about why people feel the need to put others or things that are different down. It saddens me to know that so many people feel the need to do this all over the  world. I t sometimes feels like all the effort put into it is pointless. Why not use the energy taken to put someone or something down to do something nice for others.  This has all taught me to not discriminate against others based on appearance and difference. I can only control my words and hopefully others will do the same.”

“On the other hand I really enjoyed the wedding and shopping. It was great to learn more about the Mayan Culture. I think it is great that they are trying hard to protect and keep their culture. Although the rain sucked, I really enjoyed walking to the church and seeing what it was like. The church was really beautiful.”

If you would like to see pictures and videos from the trip, I will be attempting to upload them to the GV blog. Please be patient, as the internet connection here doesn’t always have the bandwidth to support large uploads. Take care.

Reagan

PS. Thanks to the parents who wrote with birthday reminders…there will be cake and singing and all sorts of lovely silliness!

Return to Homepage

GiveBIG on June 23rd

Dear GV Community:

We would like to cordially invite you to the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG event on Thursday, June 23rd from 7am to midnight. GiveBIG is a community-wide giving challenge which is excepted to be one of the biggest online giving events in King County history.

You don’t need to put on fancy dress clothes or buy a ticket. You can donate from the comfort of your own computer, and you can live anywhere in the Northwest to participate.  If you can get online, you can GiveBIG.

What is GiveBIG?

GiveBIG is a community-wide challenge created by The Seattle Foundation that will increase the size of your donation to us. This new, one day, online charitable giving event will rally together our community on behalf of all the amazing nonprofit organizations in King County, including Global Visionaries.

How will it work?

GiveBIG will help stretch donations in several ways:

  • Grow your gift! The Seattle Foundation and local businesses will match a share of every contribution made through the Seattle Foundation’s Online Giving Center between 7:00am and midnight.
  • Win a golden ticket! During the day, you could be chosen at random to have your charity of choice-Global Visionaries-receive an additional $1000 from GiveBIG sponsors.

How can I help?

  • Mark your calender!
  • Rally your friends and family! Emails, Facebook, Twitter (#GiveBIG), phone calls, and in-person conversations are all great ways to spread the word and to take advantage of GiveBIG.
  • Please RSVP on Facebook! By doing so, you will receive reminders about the event and will find helpful information that will guide you through the process.

Thank you in advance for giving big! With your help, we can continue our mission of “empowering young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future” by providing scholarships to our low-income participants both here and abroad.

Sincerely,

The Global Visionaries Team

Return to Homepage

From Homelessness to Howard: Former GV participant inspires change

Marita Phelps (right) at the 2011 Fiesta de Guatemala Auction
 
By Christina Lorella
 
Marita Phelps is certainly a name worth mentioning.  While her inspirational story to succeed against all odds will surely prove uplifting, it is her intelligence, her compassion, and her dedication to global justice that truly are exceptional.
 
Marita, now a young woman of twenty years, participated in Global Visionaries in 2007.  She regards her experiences before GV as being similar to that of “any other typical teenager.” She played basketball and golf, was a member of her school’s student body council, and was a school thespian.  However, despite her incredible efforts to fit in amongst her peers, there was one thing that set her apart. She was homeless.
 
At just sixteen years of age, a young Marita, along with her sister and mother, were forced out of their home and had to find shelter wherever they could.  They found refuge in local motels, floated between the homes of friends, even slept in their car.  The pressures of her unfortunate circumstances began to take a toll, eventually causing Marita to stop attending school for a short period of time.  It was then that Marita learned about Global Visionaries.
 
“Learning about GV was inspiring and something to be hopeful about,” Marita said. “But I was nervous to tell my mother about the program because of the costs.  I took a chance anyway.”
 
Marita and her family worked tirelessly to come up with the funds needed to cover the required program fees, despite their many hardships.  Unfortunately, after exhausting all forms of fundraising, Marita’s budget still fell short. At that point, she believed that GV would no longer be a part of her reality.
 
It was then that Marita shared her story with a Global Visionaries staff member, who was so moved by her words that she awarded Marita a  scholarship allowing her to remain in the program.  Not only did Marita take part in the leadership class and trip to Guatemala that year, but also came back to serve on both the Youth Board and the Pro-Justice Team.
 
Through her work in these programs, Marita became exposed to the vast number of  injustices that still exist in our world today. She witnessed a need for change and decided that she would spend each day trying to better herself, and in turn, the world.  As Gandhi once said,”Be the change you wish to see in this world.” Marita does just that.
 
Her experiences in GV taught her that through diversity and dialogue, peace can be accomplished. “Diversity is critical to the mission of global justice,” Marita said. “People are often secluded from each other, separated by class, race, and culture; leaving our acceptance of the world limited and biased, unable to understand and appreciate one another. But, creating unity through diversity, allows us to transform our world together…that is the magical part of GV that is rare in our society today and hard to come by.”
 
Marita graduated from Garfield High School in 2008, where she helped develop the African-American Scholars Program and subsequently won the Diversity Makes a Difference Scholarship. She now attends Howard University, in Washington D.C., where she is majoring in playwriting. 
 
Since leaving our organization, Marita has made it a priority to  continue to fight for global justice, both environmentally and socially. In fact, Marita and a group of friend’s were so appalled at the lack of recycling resources at Howard, that together they implemented the “Green Team”.  Through this program, they have introduced widespread recycling and have helped create a more healthy, sustainable campus.
 
Last summer, Marita followed her passion for change when she began working for a widely recognized nonprofit, Martha’s Table. She has since created and led her own poetry and drama workshops at a  D.C. middle school and has also served as a  workshop facilitator for “Theater as Social Change,” a program offered through Georgetown University.
 
This upcoming summer, Marita will embark on a journey to Ghana through a New York-based nonprofit, Operation Crossroads Africa.  While there, she will facilitate workshops with local youth to create drama and media performances that will be presented to the larger community on topics such as HIV/AIDS awareness, history, and other critical social issues. Come fall, Marita will participate in an exchange program through Colombia University.
 
Quite a list of accomplishments for a twenty year old, who just four years ago, had no place to call home.
 
Marita says that through her involvement in GV, she learned, “to be a leader, humility, social responsibility, and confidence.”  She encourages other students to join the programs, especially Youth Board and the Pro-Justice Team, and believes that by doing so, they will gain a life-changing experience, learn critical life and job skills,  make life-long friends, and will share family-like bonding experiences.
 
“As I continue to develop and reflect on my experiences, it is almost impossible for me to speak about my life without the inclusion of GV,” Marita said. “One of the many homes I was raised in.”