Posts Tagged ‘ArtCorps’

Teachers Discover Imaginative Ways to Educate

Isabel Carrio Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Pedro Batz Chuc is a kindergarten teacher at Chuicaxtun School who has been enthusiastically participating in ArtCorps training activities in Totonicapán, Guatemala since 2012.

Pedro in trainingPedro is bright, attentive and curious, and we are honored to continue to work with such a dedicated individual. Before taking ArtCorps’ intensive training course in 2014, Pedro participated in ArtCorps’ environmental initiatives. He and his students wrote and illustrated the story “Nature” for Wisdom of the Rocky Hillsides, a compilation of stories from Mayan oral tradition. Pedro also created a clay sculpture for a pop-up public art installation in the town square.

After the last day of the foundations course, Pedro and I chatted about what he has learned so far. He explained: “Through a song, a poem or a skit, we can extract a lesson. This helps us be imaginative.” He said that the arts-based tools are very useful to him because he can easily adapt them for the diverse subjects he teaches. On a personal level, he shared that he is a better person and teacher because he has become more reflective, he is more aware of social and environmental issues and he has learned to enjoy artistic expression.

Pedro is one of the teachers who has been selected to demonstrate one of our activities at an upcoming training for CDRO, a local environmental organization that collaborates with the schools. This is an opportunity for Pedro to hone his skills with a new group and he is enthusiastic about co-facilitating. He has chosen to facilitate the purpose mask exercise, in which participants explore the intersection of their passion and purpose and create a mask to represent this. Thank you, Pedro, for accompanying us on this learning journey!

Pedro is one of thirty participating teachers in the Creative Leadership training sessions in Totonicapán, Guatemala that ArtCorps is offering in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.The author Isabel Carrió is ArtCorps’ Creative Facilitator in Guatemala.

This project is made possible thanks to support from Towards Sustainability.

Natural Resource Management and Livelihoods Go Hand in Hand in Fishing Town

2 Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Fish seem to be everywhere in Livingston, Guatemala, thanks to the efforts of local organizations like the Foundation for Eco-Development and Conservation (FUNDAECO), who are helping fishing communities sustainably manage their natural resources and livelihoods.

Fish in fishing boatAt the FUNDAECO office, bags of fish specimen were being collected for research. The FUNDAECO environmental education staff and I were planning to meet with local fishing groups and visit a fishing project on the Sarstun River, and of course, we had fish for lunch.

My counterparts, Guillermo Galves and Christopher Avalos, and I reviewed the agenda for our meeting with the fishermen’s committee. They wanted to assess the committee’s leadership capacity and overall motivation to inform what type of support they might need. I recommended the Systems Game exercise, and we rehearsed how we would introduce it to the group.

The Systems Game is a dynamic process in which every movement made by individuals triggers movement throughout the whole system. It exemplifies how easily and quickly a system can break down as well as self-organize and adapt to changing circumstances.

Smiling participants walk in circle for Systems Game exerciseWhen Guillermo presented the exercise, the participants were shy at first and some did not understand what they had been asked to do. We encouraged them, and soon smiles began to emerge and laughter was heard as they walked in a circle or “system.” Guillermo clarified the instructions about the movement signals, and they carried on.

What followed was a rich reflection among the committee members on communication and participation. One participant was very vocal about how to follow the instructions and the importance of taking the activity seriously. The treasurer felt the need to organize but was unclear about how to make this happen. Others needed to talk to each other in order to understand the experience. As a group, they articulated their need for leadership at the moment and within their committee.

Although this first implementation of the activity may not have been perfect, it achieved its dual purpose—creating a supportive learning environment for the facilitator to put new methods into practice and facilitating meaningful dialogue about the committee’s organizational needs.

We look forward to working with FUNDAECO to strengthen local leaders and organizations like the fisherman’s committee so they can effectively manage their fish population and water resources and sustain their livelihoods.

Adriana Guzman, ArtCorps’ Creative Facilitator, is based in Punta Gorda, Belize.

This project is made possible thanks to generous support from the New England Biolabs Foundation.

La Gestión de Recursos Naturales y Medios de Vida Van de la Mano en los Pueblos Pesqueros

2 Thursday, April 17th, 2014

La pesca parece estar en todas partes en Livingston, Guatemala, gracias a los esfuerzos de organizaciones locales como Fundaeco, que están ayudando a las comunidades pesqueras a gestionar sus recursos naturales y los medios de vida de manera sustentable.

Fish in fishing boatEn la oficina de Fundaeco, se estaban recogiendo bolsas de muestras de peces para realizar investigaciones. El personal de educación ambiental de Fundaeco y yo estábamos planeando reunirnos con grupos locales de pesca y visitar un proyecto de pesca en el río Sarstún, y por supuesto, almorzamos pescado.

Mis colegas, Guillermo Galves y Christopher Avalos, y yo nos encargamos de revisar la agenda para nuestra reunión con el comité de pescadores. Querían evaluar la capacidad de liderazgo del comité y la motivación general para informar qué tipo de apoyo puedan llegar a necesitar. Yo recomendé el ejercicio llamado Juego de Sistemas, y ensayamos cómo íbamos a presentárselo al grupo.

El Juego de Sistemas es un proceso dinámico en el cual cada movimiento realizado por individuos desencadena un movimiento a lo largo de todo el sistema. Es un claro ejemplo de con cuánta facilidad y rapidez de un sistema se puede romper, así como también puede auto-organizarse y adaptarse a las circunstancias cambiantes.

Smiling participants walk in circle for Systems Game exerciseCuando Guillermo presentó el ejercicio, los participantes al principio tenían actitudes un poco tímidas y algunos no entendían lo que se les había pedido que hicieran. Nosotros los alentamos y pronto comenzaron a surgir sonrisas y las risas se escucharon mientras caminaban en forma de círculo o “sistema”. Guillermo aclaró las instrucciones acerca de las señales de movimiento, y continuaron.

Lo que siguió fue una profunda reflexión entre los miembros del Comité sobre la comunicación y la participación. Uno de los participantes fue muy elocuente en cuanto a cómo seguir las instrucciones y la importancia de tomar en serio la actividad. El tesorero sintió la necesidad de organizar pero no tenía bien claro la manera en la cual hacer que esto suceda. Otros tuvieron que hablar entre sí con el fin de comprender la experiencia. Como grupo, ellos expresaron su necesidad de liderazgo en ese momento y dentro de su comité.

Aunque esta primera implementación de la actividad puede no haber sido perfecta, logró su doble objetivo, creando un ambiente de aprendizaje de apoyo para que el facilitador pueda implementar nuevos métodos y ponerlos en práctica además de crear un diálogo significativo acerca de las necesidades organizativas del comité.

Esperamos con interés trabajar con Fundaeco para fortalecer a los líderes locales y a las organizaciones como comité de pescadores para que puedan gestionar con eficacia sus recursos de las poblaciones de peces y de agua y, de esta manera, mantener sus medios de vida.

Adriana Guzmán, Facilitadora Creativa ArtCorps, se basa en Punta Gorda, Belice.

Este proyecto es posible gracias al generoso apoyo de la Fundación New England Biolabs.

Preparing for a National Role

admin2 Monday, April 14th, 2014

Maria discovered her voice and purpose in ArtCorps’ workshops. She now serves on a national committee for community development, applying her leadership and creativity to improve living conditions in rural El Salvador.

MariaIn 2013, Maria del Carmen attended the leadership school for rural women leaders (“Escuela Rural”) with 19 other microcredit organizers. The facilitator, ArtCorps Artist Miguel Zepeda Santos, recalls that she was embarrassed to speak in front of the group and only responded to a question when asked directly during the first few months. However, despite her obvious discomfort, she never refused to participate in the creative expression exercises, and her participation gradually improved as she engaged in conversation more often and interacted more with the other women leaders.

One day, she shared that her town planned to form a volunteer committee and that she was thinking about participating. The group encouraged her to be part of this effort, as an opportunity both for personal growth and to serve her community. And she joined.

In our workshops, we continued to work on self-esteem, communication and conflict transformation, using role play and other creative methods. A noticeable shift had taken place in Maria—her shyness was a thing of the past and her ambition to keep learning took the forefront.

The next month, Maria told us that she had been selected as a departmental (state) representative for the rural progress committee she served on. She was chosen based on her communication skills, ability to express herself and strong interest in improving the living conditions of her people. Maria credited the creative leadership workshops with helping her become a better leader for her community, and we congratulated her on the significant progress she had shown.

In our last meeting of the year, as we celebrated the group’s progress, Maria surprised us yet again with remarkable news. This time she had been appointed to the national committee for rural progress.

As part of a collective assessment of our work, Maria gave the following testimonial: “If I had never participated in ArtCorps’ workshops, I would never have discovered my abilities…. Now my public service is recognized by many people. Not only am I a part of the town committee for progress, but I was also elected to represent my district at the state level and, most recently, I have also become our national representative. I meet with public figures and government officials, with the President’s staff, and we come up with projects to benefit [rural communities].

This project was carried out in collaboration with Servicio Jesuita para el Desarrollo and Oxfam America.

Preparándose para un Rol Nacional

artcorps Monday, April 14th, 2014

Una mujer que encontró su voz y propósito en los talleres de ArtCorps ahora es miembro de un comité nacional para el desarrollo comunitario, aplicando su liderazgo y creatividad para mejorar las condiciones de vida en las zonas rurales de El Salvador..

MariaEn el 2013, María del Carmen asistió a la escuela de liderazgo para mujeres líderes rurales (“Escuela Rural”) junto con otros 19 organizadores de microcrédito. El facilitador, un artista ArtCorps llamado Miguel Zepeda Santos, recuerda que le daba vergüenza hablar delante del grupo y sólo respondió a una pregunta cuando se le preguntó directamente durante los primeros meses. Sin embargo, a pesar de su evidente incomodidad, ella nunca se negó a participar en los ejercicios de expresión creativa, y su participación fue mejorando gradualmente a medida que conversaba con mayor frecuencia e interactuaba más con las otras mujeres líderes.

Un día, ella contó que en su ciudad se planeaba formar un comité de voluntarios y que ella estaba pensando en participar. El grupo la animó a ser parte de este esfuerzo, como una oportunidad tanto para el crecimiento personal como para servir a su comunidad. Entonces ella se unió.

En nuestros talleres, se continuó trabajando en la autoestima, la comunicación y transformación de conflictos, mediante el juego de roles y otros métodos creativos. María atravesó un cambio notable: su timidez era una cosa del pasado y su ambición de seguir aprendiendo tomó la vanguardia.

Al mes siguiente, María nos dijo que ella había sido seleccionada como representante departamental (estatal) para el comité de progreso rural en el cual ella se desempeñó. Ella fue elegida en base a sus habilidades de comunicación, capacidad de expresarse y por su gran interés en la mejora de las condiciones de vida de su pueblo. María le hace honor a los talleres de liderazgo creativo que la ayudaron a convertirse en una mejor líder para su comunidad, y nosotros la felicitamos por los progresos significativos que ha demostrado.

En nuestra última reunión del año, mientras celebrábamos el progreso del grupo, María nos sorprendió una vez más con notable noticia. Esta vez ella había sido nombrado miembro del comité nacional para el progreso rural.

Como parte de una evaluación colectiva de nuestro trabajo, María dio el siguiente testimonio: “Si yo nunca hubiera participado en los talleres de ArtCorps, nunca habría descubierto mis habilidades …. Ahora mi servicio público es reconocido por muchas personas. No sólo formo parte del comité de la ciudad para el progreso, sino que también fui elegida para representar a mi distrito a nivel estatal y, más recientemente, también me he convertido en nuestro representante nacional. Me reúno con figuras públicas y funcionarios del gobierno, con el personal del Presidente, y proponemos distintos proyectos a beneficio de las comunidades rurales.”

Este proyecto se estaba llevando a cabo en colaboración con el Servicio Jesuita para el Desarrollo y Oxfam America.

Community Radio Talks about Sex

Marta Oslin Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

An ArtCorps’ trainee uses a new communication tool to generate radio messages about sexual and reproductive health.

Accurate information about sexual and reproductive health is scarce in Guatemala, which has the highest level of teen pregnancy in Latin America. One out of five Guatemalan mothers are between 10 and 19 years old, according to a 2011 study on the state of the world’s girls, titled “Because I Am a Girl: So, What About Boys?” by Plan International.

As the primary source of news and information for remote communities and a voice for human rights, the community radio network of 80 stations around Guatemala seems an obvious place to turn to fill this information void. But how could the taboo subject of sexual health be presented in a way that is both culturally sensitive and effective? How could Cesar Gomez, the Content Production and Training Coordinator for the Community Radio Project at Cultural Survival, help his team of broadcasters to brainstorm story ideas about a subject they do not discuss among themselves?

Cesar drew from creative facilitation techniques he learned in ArtCorps’ Foundations of Creative Leadership training and selected the World Café, or “La Milpa” (corn field) as he renamed it. In this exercise, participants break into small groups to have meaningful conversations and visually illustrate ideas stemming from specific questions. There are multiple rounds, each with a new set of people and a new question. At the end the full group reconvenes to harvest the central concepts, patterns and insights that emerged in the small group discussions. This activity helps groups generate a deeper understanding of a community issue in a collaborative and inclusive fashion.

Cesar used the World Café exercise in team meetings with local broadcasters in Quetzaltenango and Cobán. In these sessions, he divided the broadcasters into a group of adults and a group of youth, and then prompted them to discuss the myths and realities about sexual health that exist in in their communities. The broadcasters then worked together to translate the key themes from their dialogue into thirteen engaging radio spots.

The spots prompt important sexual and reproductive health behavior changes such as parents taking time to talk to their children about sex and sexuality, couples planning for the number of children they want and young women being prepared to stand up to pressure for sex. Click on the links to listen to a sampling of these 40-second public health messages in Spanish: communication between parents and children, healthy relationships and teen pregnancy.

Bravo Cesar and team for leveraging community radio to encourage informed decision-making around sexual and reproductive health and healthy relationships!

Learn more about Cultural Survival’s work with the Guatemalan community radio network here.

This project is made possible thanks to support from the New England Biolabs Foundation.

Programas de radio comunitarias tratan la salud sexual

Marta Oslin Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Un alumno de ArtCorps comparte cómo utilizar una nueva herramienta de comunicación para generar mensajes de radio acerca de la salud sexual y reproductiva.

La información precisa acerca de la salud sexual y reproductiva es escasa en Guatemala, que tiene el nivel de embarazos en adolescentes más alto en América Latina. Una de cada cinco madres guatemaltecas tiene entre 10 y 19 años, según un estudio de 2011 sobre el estado de las niñas del mundo titulado, “Porque soy una niña: ¿Qué pasa con los muchachos?” de Plan International.

Como principal fuente de noticias e información para las comunidades remotas y vocera de los derechos humanos, la red de radios comunitarias de ochenta estaciones a lo largo de Guatemala parece un lugar obvio para llenar este vacío de información. Pero ¿cómo podría el tema tabú de la salud sexual presentarse de una manera que sea culturalmente sensible y eficaz? ¿Cómo podría César Gómez, coordinador de Capacitación y Contenido de Radios Comunitarias en Supervivencia Cultural, ayudar a su equipo de locutores a generar ideas de historias acerca de un tema que no discuten entre sí?

César se nutrió de técnicas creativas de facilitación que aprendió en la capacitación de ArtCorps en Fundamentos de Liderazgo Creativo, y eligió el World Café, o “La Milpa” (campo de maíz), como decidió llamarle. En este ejercicio, los participantes se dividen en grupos pequeños para tener conversaciones significativas e ilustrar visualmente las ideas derivadas de preguntas específicas. Existen varias rondas, cada una con un nuevo conjunto de personas y una nueva pregunta. Al final, todo el grupo se vuelve a reunir para cosechar los conceptos, patrones e ideas centrales que hayan surgido en las discusiones de los grupos pequeños. Esta actividad ayuda a los grupos a generar una comprensión más profunda de un problema comunitario de manera colaborativa e integradora.

César utilizó el ejercicio World Café en reuniones de equipo con las emisoras locales en Quetzaltenango y Cobán. Durante estas sesiones, dividió a los organismos de radiodifusión en un grupo de adultos y un grupo de jóvenes y luego los instó a discutir los mitos y realidades acerca de la salud sexual que existen en sus comunidades. Luego, los locutores trabajaron juntos para traducir los temas clave de su diálogo a trece comerciales radiales atractivos.

Los comerciales impulsan importantes cambios de comportamiento en materia de salud sexual y reproductiva, tales como que los padres tomen el tiempo para hablar con sus hijos sobre sexo y sexualidad, que las parejas planeen la cantidad de hijos que desean y que las mujeres jóvenes se preparen para hacer frente a la presión para tener relaciones sexuales. Haga clic en los enlaces para escuchar una muestra de los mensajes de cuarenta segundos de salud pública en español: comunicación entre padres e hijos, , relaciones saludables y embarazo adolescente.

¡Bravo César y equipo por aprovechar la radio comunitaria para fomentar la toma de decisiones informadas en torno a la salud sexual y reproductiva y las relaciones sanas!

Sepa más acerca del trabajo de Supervivencia Cultural con la red de radios comunitarias de Guatemala aqui.

Este proyecto ha sido posible gracias al apoyo de la Fundación New England Biolabs.

Redefining Leadership

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

A new kind of leadership is emerging in Central America.

The word leader usually refers to the person who occupies the top position in a team or institution and is the one who is in charge—in other words, the boss.

A leading position is seen as an opportunity for power, which can often cause separation from the reality of the group, the community and the overall environment. When the vision is limited to the interests and perspectives of the “leaders,” this causes stagnation in the development and creativity of individuals, projects and institutions.

In late October 2013, with support from the New England Biolabs Foundation, ArtCorps provided a foundations course in Creative Leadership for Social Change for a group of 24 community leaders from 12 organizations working on environmental and human rights issues in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

As a facilitator, I observed the transformation of this concept of leadership over three days as trainees experienced ArtCorps’ creative methodology. The first day guided leaders to develop a deeper knowledge of themselves by reflecting on their roots, values, achievements and life purpose as well as the behaviors they wanted to unlearn. They explored the pros and cons of different leadership styles and identified the limitations of an authoritarian approach. They discovered the power of recognizing and cultivating the inherent leadership capacities in everyone.

The second day addressed community development issues, featuring open dialogue and team-building practices as well as how to foster innovation and build a collective vision. They discovered theater as a tool to analyze problems and try on creative interventions around issues ranging from domestic violence to environmental contamination.

Finally, the third day zoned in at the level of systems as participants planned creative initiatives that took into account the wider social and economic structures that need to be addressed in order to affect more lasting change. Their projects included environmental and health campaigns using puppets and World Café dialogues with key stakeholders.

These budding creative leaders left our training with a new concept of what it means to be a leader and innovative tools to advance the issues they are working on. Just one month after the training:

  • 71% of participants had applied ArtCorps methods in their work, resulting in increased engagement, communication and collaboration.
  • 33% of participants had trained others in ArtCorps’ methods.

In the coming year, we look forward to providing more trainings in the region and building fertile ecosystems where social and environmental change can flourish.

Luis Quino, ArtCorps’ Program Officer, is based in Antigua, Guatemala.