Hey GV alumni—are you ready for your next international adventure?
Then you should consider the Global Leadership English School, located in Temascalcingo, Mexico. Here in this picturesque town in the central Mexican highlands, you will have the opportunity to live, work, and study for a year.
The Global Leadership English School, founded and directed by former GV Program Manager Aimee Duran (previously Aimee Hibbets), is now accepting qualified candidates to teach English and leadership skills to local youth. You can work, earn money, and improve your Spanish, all while having an in-depth, authentic experience in this small community.
Global Visionaries’ first culture night of the year was an opportunity for new U.S. participants in the Leadership Program to meet the other students on their team and experience open conversation.
The culture night was held on November 4 from 7-9pm. Students started out the night all together in the main hall at El Centro de La Raza’s building. During this time the GV staff and leaders were continually encouraging the students to meet new and different people.
“In order to come up against stereotypes, GV intends for students to get out of their comfort zones,” said Chris Fontana, Executive Director of GV.
“I have been privileged to experience first-hand the impact of GV,” said Reagan Jackson, GV program manager.
This past year Reagan Jackson has led three cultural immersion experiences– Spring, Summer, and Intensive. Reagan said that she has seen a shy kid who barely spoke breakdancing in Guatemala. “Kids lose apathy [and] start to feel after the visit to the garbage dump in Guatemala,” Reagan said. “GV is about providing these opportunities.”
“We give you the opportunity but the rest is up to you,” Reagan said. “You’re the ones who make the program what it is.”
A big part of the Leadership Program is the cultural immersion experience to Guatemala but contrary to what many may think the goal is not to help those in Guatemala but to work in solidarity with the Guatemalans.
Chelsea Dole from Nathan Hale High School is in the summer program this year. She said that she is most looking forward to the out of country experience because she has only been to Canada during elementary school. Chelsea is currently taking AP Spanish and is excited to be able to use that knowledge.
There are two groups of students in the Leadership Program—Spring and Summer—both consisting of 42 students from various Seattle high schools. In addition there are 33 students in the Intensive Program.
During culture night each of the groups meets with the seven Youth Board Leaders in Training. Those leaders in training direct the meetings by teaching the new program participants how to do a GV circle; a perfect circle where everybody is able to look each other in the eyes.
In addition to being required to attend all of the culture nights, GV participants are required to spend 30 hours volunteering locally. Three local work teams are available for the students to fulfill that requirement— restoring local habitats with EarthCorps; farming in Carnation, WA with Local Roots or working in the GV office.
For Generations, the youth of Santiago Zamora, a small mountainous town near Antiqua, have been faced with a lack of educational options. The only school in Santiago Zamora is heavily overcrowded and unable to provide an education for many of the local youth.
Fortunately with the help of the local community and Global Visionaries there is a brand new school that is being built for the children in Santiago Zamora! Two new classrooms and an administration office are due for completion in early 2012. The work of everyone involved will give children the chance for a brighter future.
Santiago Zamora is a mountain community inhabited by people that cannot afford to live in the more valuable flat lands. It is growing quickly due to the growth of the many coffee plantations in the region; however there is not steady infrastructure to support this growth.
The team whose construction work made this school a reality includes GV students from this past year’s construction work team, a crew of Guatemalan foremen and members of the local populace that are involved in the school— such as current and future teachers, mothers of the local youth and even some of the students who will be attending the school. Their efforts have laid the foundation of the school, raised the walls and prepared the interior for educational purposes.
Unfortunately, there are far too many children who need an education than the school can support. GV continues to add rooms to the school but the demand is still high. Global Visionaries will be identifying a new site to break ground for the 2012 trips in order to continue partnering with the community to provide new opportunities to young people.
In a recent editorial in The Seattle Times, Marla Smith-Nilson, executive director of Seattle-based Water 1st International, praised Melinda Gates and her approach in solving sanitation-based mortality in developing countries:
“Congratulations to Melinda for being smarter than Bill. I agree with her that diarrhea in children is best prevented by increased access to safe water and toilets and not vaccines… many people including myself, have been critical of the foundation’s emphasis on technology and innovation as primary criteria for funding water and sanitation projects.”
Bill and Melinda Gates, two incredibly influential philanthropists, demonstrate the different approaches in solving the one of the developing world’s crises: mortalities arising from sanitation related diseases, such as diarrhea. On one hand, Bill Gates, a technological emissary, embarks on a scientifically advanced approach of inventing a vaccine. Conversely, Melinda’s approach is more rudimentary; focusing on water, sanitation and hygiene which she believes would be more productive than inventing and disseminating expensive vaccines.
Then, on July 19, 2011, The Seattle Times headlines read: “Gates money, best minds put to work by ‘reinventing’ toilet: Bill Gates is turning his penchant for cutting-edge invention on the most unglamorous of devices: the toilet.”
Admittedly, vaccines do have more of a cool factor than the toilet, especially for the scientifically-inclined. But when it comes to foreign aid, are glitzy gadgets sufficient to solve the many-pronged crises plaguing developing nations? Or are they at worst, obfuscating the real issues at hand and overlook constructive solutions?
Let this question be a springboard for a different, yet related set of conundrums. It is unquestionable that Seattlites ooze coolness—it is hip and trendy to be seen traipsing around the city, sunshine or not, clad in shoes du jour: TOMS.
Purporting to combine consumption habits with social responsibility, TOMS will provide a pair of shoes to a needy individual halfway across the world with your simple purchase of its own stylish pair. And with a video this compelling, how could anyone pass up the opportunity to be a socially conscious consumer?
Blake Mycoskie’s intentions no doubt come from a good place. But what he says in the beginning of the video is particularly striking: “As long as I continue selling shoes, these kids will have shoes for the rest of their lives.” Cynical or ingenious? He has aligned his business model with the welfare of the shoe-needy.
Is TOMS another example of a “cool aid?” Is it another form of aid that obfuscates real issues and overlooks more productive and sustainable solutions?
Mycoskie’s company’s primary motivations for creating a shoe company based on this charitable business model isn’t actually that far from the sanitation issues Melinda and Bill are interested in solving. According to the TOMS website, “a leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.”
The shoes supplied by TOMS protect children from soil-borne diseases in addition to functioning as part of their mandatory uniforms for attending school.
However, pressing the issues further can reveal more substantive, underlying problems at hand. Why are there soil-borne diseases? Why are the families unable to provide school uniforms for their children?
Can “cool aid” address these issues? Yes, shoes protect feet. Yes, shoes let children go to school. But the fact of the matter is sanitation problems will still exist. Socio-economic problems that dissuade poor families from buying school materials will still persist.
Members of the development community argue that the TOMS model of donating materials rather than creating opportunities is not sustainable, undermines local economies, and obscures the real issues plaguing the communities it claims to help.
Foreign aid has been controversial from time immemorial. Some critics, such as Peter Bauer, author of “Development Aid: End It Or Mend It,” even rail against the word “aid,” because it “promotes unquestioning attitude. It disarms criticism, obscures realities, and prejudges results. Who could be against aid to the less fortunate? The term has enabled aid supporters to claim a monopoly of compassion and to dismiss critics as lacking in understanding and sympathy.” Historically, failed aid has plenty of examples but what they all have in common is that they come in forms of materials or cash. Communities receiving this aid might not have the available social infrastructure to properly and equitably disseminate these goods. Or, they simply run out.
Marla Smith-Nilson advances a different and now popular approach in development aid. It moves away from donating material goods which are not sustainable, can promote dependency, and at worst skates around real solutions.
She acknowledges that constructive solutions are ones that empower local community members to build self-sustaining opportunities for themselves, letting them take charge of their own existential destinies.
Speaking to the successes of Water 1st, Smith-Nilson explains that “because of our comprehensive project monitoring, we know that all systems we have funded are still in operation. They are successful because they are independently owned and operated by community members themselves, place women in key leadership roles, and involve solutions adapted to local priorities and conditions.”
TOMS does seem to be involved in creating partnerships that emphasize community development projects but its business/charity model is the issue at hand. While there are no silver bullets, panacea, or utopian blue prints that can address the socio-economic and health related issues plaguing developing countries, easy or “cool aid” should be subject to a constructive dialogue, especially involving the beneficiaries of such aid.
It can be very powerful to combine consumptive habits and charitable giving. After all, our choices as consumers have ripple effects across the globe, especially since we live in such a globalized age. However, it is still necessary to make educated approaches towards development aid. Cool aid such as vaccines, fancy filtrating straws, and shoes can sometimes obfuscate more productive solutions, however unglamorous they may be.
For many of you students graduating from high school this spring, college will become the next step on your journey to success. In an economy where Bachelor’s degrees are often required for many jobs, your decision will certainly put you at an advantage. However, leaving your home and joining the world of the unknown can leave teenagers feeling a bit uneasy. Here are a few tips to help you transition into your new, exciting, but a bit nerve-racking life:
1) Do not overwhelm yourself your first quarter or even year
For many of us overachievers, we have a tendency to think we can go above and beyond what others consider the standard. While that may be true, college is not a great place to experiment with overload. College is a completely different realm than high school, so no matter how many classes you took in the past, do not assume you can do the same in college. Rather, take time to adjust to your new lifestyle without overwhelming yourself with too much all at once. The last thing you want to do is get bad grades or lose your financial aid right from the beginning. Continue reading College Bound: Tips for students pursuing higher education→
Throughout my early education, I can remember at least one “bully” figure in each of my classes. I am certain that many of you can do the same. It was inevitable for there to be at least one person who suffered such inherent insecurities that they felt the need to backlash at the expense of others. Today, bullying has reached a new extreme; it has gone digital.
Parents can no longer rely on the physical signs of bullying to determine whether or not their child is being subjected to harmful relationships with their peers. Instead, a large percentage of today’s youth is targeted by cyberbullying, a digital form of persecution.
Mark McDermott (brother of U.S. Representative, Jim McDermott) and Diane Zahn, two accomplished and very well-respected human rights activists, visited Global Visionaries during our recent spring trip to Guatemala.
Mark, who currently serves as the regional representative for the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and his wife, Diane, were highly impressed with the depth of the work that Global Visionaries is doing.
The couple played an active role in this year’s trip, which proved to be a priceless addition to the student experience. Mark and Diane took the time to visit our school construction site in Santiago Zamora, as well as the Coffee work team. In addition, they participated in the group viewing and discussion of “When Mountains Tremble”, a documentary based on the Guatemalan Civil War. They encouraged conversation and made it a point to hear the stories and experiences of both Guatemalan and U.S. youth.
The insight that they provided was invaluable to the trip and we cannot thank them enough for their participation.
Mark and Diane will be joining Global Visionaries at the 2011 Fiesta de Guatemala Auction in further support of our programs.
Global Visionaries Executive Director Christopher Fontana has been selected as a finalist for Seattle University’s 2011 Red Winged Leadership Award.
This award is given annually to local leaders who are “committed to embracing the unique intersection where leadership, business acumen, and social impact overlap,” according to the Seattle University website.
“I am grateful to be considered—it is a reflection of the work that the GV team does together,” Fontana said.
Red Winged Leaders are selected by a team of “spotters” who search the community for local leaders in business and nonprofit organizations. Once a pool of candidates has been selected, a panel of jurors selects three finalists and will announce the first, second and third place winners at the Red Winged Leadership Award Ceremony.
This year’s Red Winged Leadership Award Ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 12, 2011 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Campion Ballroom at Seattle University.
“Seminal to the vision is Christopher’s commitment to social justice and inclusivity, which is reflected in all aspects of the Program, but especially in his own personal leadership style,” said Reagan Jackson, GV Program Manager. “Christopher often takes a collaborative approach when working with staff and youth that creates a forum for everyone’s ideas to be heard and acted upon.”
The Red Winged Leadership Award is part of SU’s Graduate Leadership Formation Certificate (GLFC), a cohort of graduate business students dedicated to recognizing individuals in the Seattle community who embody the award’s principles.
The GLFC operates out of SU’s Albers School of Business and Economics.
“Seattle University’s recognition of Chris, through his nomination for the Red Winged Leadership Award, gives evidence of the contribution the organization he has led is making in our communities, both here and abroad,” said Don Schlosser, president of the GV Board of Directors.
Last year’s first place winner was Rahwa Habte, the co-owner of the restaurant Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine in the Central District of Seattle, WA. Habte’s restaurant aims to provide a safe haven for people to foster a community united by cuisine, art, music and media culture.
“Chris’ work with Global Visionaries gives meaning to the organization’s mission: Empowering young people to become global leaders in creating a just and sustainable future,” Schlosser said. “By opening the doors to this opportunity to youth from all socioeconomic classes, Chris has led the way to creating the leaders we need in today’s global society.”
Where: Chief Sealth International High School – 2600 SW Thistle Street, Seattle, WA 98106.
Why: Raise awareness of local and global water issues.
Global Visionaries Youth Board Leader Molly Freed and Global Leadership Class teacher Noah Zeichner have brought World Water Week to Seattle to raise awareness for local and global water issues.
This week-long festival at Chief Sealth International High School will include a series of workshops and presentations aimed at focusing attention on sustainable management of freshwater sources, according to the World Water Day 2011 website.
You are welcomed to attend a free lecture by author and public policy professor Robert Glennon on March 21, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at Chief Sealth International High School.
Glennon is the author of “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It.” He is the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy in the Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. Glennon investigates America’s wasteful use of water and argues that this unsustainable path must change. His book has been praised by members of the United Nations General Assembly and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Congressman Jay Inslee will introduce the week’s programs and Glennon’s talk will be preceded by a special video message from Alexandra Cousteau, a famed global water activist and filmmaker. Representatives from the Duwamish Tribe will also attend to provide a blessing for World Water Week.
Before the keynote lecture at 6:15 p.m., there will be a water resource fair with tables from local government and non-profit organizations. There will also be live jazz music and refreshments. We encourage you to attend this exciting event and to bring as many students, friends and colleagues with you.
These events are part of the Local Ideas Festival supported by the Bezos Family Foundation. Molly Freed attended last year’s Local Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado after being selected as a 2010 Bezos Scholar. Noah Zeichner is a Chief Sealth teacher and past GV trip leader.
The goal of World Water Week is to “promote understanding of the relationship between members of our local community with water here and around the world, with the emphasis on improving that relationship through conservation and local action addressing equal access for all global citizens.” (World Water Week- A Local Ideas Festival’s Facebook page.)
The rest of the week will be devoted to introducing Chief Sealth students with career and internship opportunities in the areas of water advocacy and the environment as well as in-school workshops.
The Friday of World Water Week will be a powerful day for students. In place of their regular class schedule, students will experience what getting clean water is like for a majority of people around the world. According to UN Water, 827.6 million people worldwide live in slums, often lacking access to clean water and sanitation services.
In an act of support and solidarity, students and staff will carry one to five gallons of water around the high school track for a couple of miles. This is designed to simulate what many folks around the globe routinely undertake in order to provide water for their families.
The World Water Week is the culmination of Chief Sealth’s water fundraising month. Throughout the month of March the school is fundraising for Water 1st International, whose mission is to provide safe water and toilets as a step toward ending poverty, illness and inequality on a global scale.
Water 1st International has implemented hundreds of water projects in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras and India.
Global Visionaries thanks Molly Freed and Noah Zeichner for demonstrating a commitment toward environmental justice. You can read more about the Global Leadership Class here.
To learn more about World Water Week please visit the Seattle chapter’s Facebook page. Click here for additional promotional materials. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask Noah Zeichner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to seeing you there!
For further information, please check out these resources:
The arts are supposed to be a vehicle for social change. So why doesn’t it seem like it?
As school districts and universities across the country face massive budget cuts from federal and state governments, funding for the arts (including both performance-based and visual) is expected to be threatened.
After all, doesn’t it make sense to cut programs that don’t help our students improve math and science test scores? How does your skill with a paint brush or violin help you make advances in environmental engineering? Or compete with China? Or India? You get the idea.
So before we delve into an obvious rant about how the arts are essential to a healthy society, it is important to note that critics have a strong argument for wanting to focus more attention on math and science.
American students are our future. As the Baby Boomer generation starts to approach retirement age, there will soon be a large talent gap in important areas of social infrastructure such as education and engineering.
It is important that we have plenty of fresh young minds take over these jobs when the present generation decides to leave. Now you can see why certain government officials have little problem cutting music, theatre and visual arts funding.
So what can be done to preserve our nation’s artistic output given these shrinking budgets?
That’s where community-based art comes into play.
What is community-based art, you may ask? Let us explain:
Community-based art is any art created with the purpose of engaging a particular community (defined by any geographical or demographic boundaries you see fit) into a larger dialogue with the purpose of generating positive change.
A great example of a community-based arts organization is The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), an organization serving the larger Los Angeles area. SPARC strives to give a voice to and celebrate LA’s ethnically and economically diverse population. They focus especially on “women, the working poor, youth, the elderly and newly arrived immigrant communities.”
One of SPARC’s most famous projects is The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a half a mile long wall featuring artwork encouraging interracial harmony.
Also check out Jumblies Theatre located in Toronto, Canada. Jumblies is dedicated to building relationships between multicultural artists and their larger community through partnerships, arts ventures, education and workshops.
Consider Jumblies’ most recent venture, The Scarborough Project. It is a community arts training program based in one of Toronto’s most ethnically diverse municipalities. Reaching out to Scarborough’s large immigrant population, Jumblies works to empower the community through artistic expression.
Closer to home, Barbara Luecke is the Sound Transit Art Program Manager and parent of a former Global Visionaries participant. Since 2006, Barbara has overseen and coordinated more than 50 arts projects integrated in light rail, commuter rail and bus express facilities all over Seattle.
One striking piece of art that can be found at a Light Rail station is a sculpture entitled “Rainier Beach Haiku” designed by Japanese-American artist and retired university professor Roger Shimomura. Located at the Othello Station in Rainier Valley, Shimomura’s humorous sculpture explores the difficulty of living in two different cultures at the same time.
4Culture, a cultural service agency serving the King County area, kicked off their 2010 Site-Specific series by hosting the Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre’s musical re-enactment of the 1970 historical take-over of Fort Lawton.
Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre engages “Native Indian and Alaskan Native youth to express themselves with confidence and clarity through traditional and contemporary performing arts.” RES has staged more than 130 productions with youth ages 11-19.
All these organizations will agree that it’s better for people to express themselves through art than violence. Too often marginalized folks feel the only way they can empower themselves is by committing crimes against society. The people of SPARC and Jumblies Theatre want to reverse that by creating public art in a spirit of inclusiveness.
Organizations such as Arts Corps and 4Culture do not in any way represent an alternative to public school arts programs. Instead, they illustrate that there are other venues for empowering young people to artistically express themselves that go beyond the four walls of a school building.
These organizations, like all nonprofits, are funded through a combination of public and private money. None of these folks are out to get rich. That is not why they do what they do. People like Barbara Luecke and Roger Shimomura are motivated by a desire to improve communities through arts engagement.
Too often communities are forced to come together after tragedies like natural disasters and violent acts. Community-based art is a fantastic way for people from diverse backgrounds to come together in a healthy, constructive and vibrant manner.
If your local school is planning to cut funding for the arts, don’t be afraid that our artistic legacy is lost. There is reason to have hope. In times of need, sometimes all it takes are a dedicated group of people, a dream and the will to make magic happen.
Obviously, it is preferable that funding for the arts continues in public schools. But if that doesn’t seem possible, don’t feel like it’s a lost cause.
Just research all the projects mentioned above. Most of them started on a shoe-string budget and continue to exist today. Unfortunately, we cannot change cuts to education spending. That is left to politicians. What we can do is take heart that there are other venues for cultivating tomorrow’s artists.
They might not be found in a classroom. You might have to take a peak outside your window.
Enabling young people to become global leaders, creating a just and sustainable future.