As the rain continued in a fierce torrential downpour, the students watched in dismay as the water flowed unobstructed into the classrooms. Knowing this would mean classes would be cancelled yet again, potentially for weeks, a few students found inspiration to create diversions in order to keep their schools safe. These students, and many like them, are the source of inspiration for our Jóvenes en Acción Program, our exchange program that brings young leaders to New Mexico, for intensive training. As you will see, in addition to creating connections between our global youth, Global One to One is also actively involved with empowering our future leaders to deal with global issues affecting their communities. However, this program is not guaranteed since funding is based on yearly grants.
This past summer we were proud to have been selected by World Learning to host an exchange group of young leaders. The Jóvenes en Acción Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy Mexico City, is a four-week exchange experience in the U.S., starting with Leadership Development in Vermont with World Learning leadership development, followed by two weeks in New Mexico. Participants were selected as project teams,of four to five students from diverse communities throughout Mexico to build leadership, communication, English language, and community engagement skills. Participants engage in workshops, community service activities, meetings with community leaders, site visits, and a two week stay in the home of an American family. Participants then return home mobilized to implement service projects in their home communities, and lasting friendships in the U.S.
The group of 13 high school students that visited Albuquerque from July 20 through August 1 was composed of three teams from around Mexico. Filtrando Mentes (Filtering Minds), the team from Cuilápama de Guerrero in Oaxaca, is focused on pollution of the Rio Valiente, the river that runs through the entire town and supplies consumable water to families and irrigation for farmers who sell their produce at local markets. Currently, the river is contaminated with garbage, soap, and chemicals from farming. The team plans begins to begin their community project with creating and distributing easy-to-understand information to the inhabitants of Oaxaqueña Cuilápam community who are as yet unaware of the environmental problems that exist, their causes and effects, and potential solutions to preserve and conserve the precious water of the Rio Valiente.
The team from Mexico City live in an area that experiences a water shortage much of the year, but flooding during the summer rainy season. Their school campus is closed for weeks at a time during this period, and these students want to make a lasting positive change. Their goal is to capture surface storm waters from roofs and paved areas and redirect it to landscaped areas like their school gardet to absorb and utilize the water. They have named their team Rain Drop, Drop Top, and are also exploring the possible use of cisterns to capture and reuse storm water. They plan to begin with a community education campaign to raise awareness and ultimately gain support for creating a greener and more sustainable environment by demonstrating how water can be recycled, leaving a legacy to their school and its future generations.
U ja’il ts’ono’ot (Water of the Cenotes), the team from Merida, Yucatan, will be engaging young people in their communities to become agents of positive environmental change. The focus of their campaign is contamination of many of the region’s centotes–natural pits that result when the limestone bedrock collapses and exposes groundwater underneath. In the state of Yucatan there are more than 2,800 cenotes that provide the main supply of fresh water, and are connected to each other through the groundwater flow. Currently at least 260 of them suffer moderate and severe damage due to pollutant contamination and urban solid waste disposal. This group plans to hold community education workshops to create of information posters in Spanish, English, and Mayan that will be placed at the cenotes to promote good environmental practices. Sanitation brigades will be organized to begin to not only remove garbage and pollutants, but also to increase participants’ interest in preserving the cenotes by experiencing them directly.
During their time in New Mexico, Global One to One arranged visits to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Southside Water Reclamation Plant to observe and learn about urban waste water purification and management; met with experts in water quality testing and management with the Southwest Research and Information Center, and RiverSource; engaged in community service projects such as improvement of storm water drainage areas with the Rocky Mountain Youth Conservation Corps, and building stone riffles to help oxygenate the Blue Water River; met with a Certified Water Harvesting Practitioner through the Watershed Management to lean about the difference between grey and green storm water and how to size basins and cisterns to clean and capture the water; and a highlight of the trip was a four day and night environmental education expedition with Cottonwood Gulch. Host families shared meals, sight-seeing, music, and laughter with their guests.
Engage One to One, a program of Global One to One, directly connects young leaders to programs designed to give them the tools and education to affect change. In New Mexico, we have youth ambassadors that accompany international exchange students during their time here. What makes Global One to One unique is it’s focus on peer support and connecting students via personal stories of empowerment, thereby investing in future leadership. Connecting with local peers, also future leaders, creating a support system that is palpable.
Projects such as these are funded through grants awarded on a yearly basis. In order for us to continue these projects, we need your support. Currently, the opportunity for future leaders to develop the skills and confidence needed to invest in their communities is not guaranteed. Each year Global One to One must actively applies for grants to offer programs such as these to inspired future leaders. Please consider helping us make this program an offering for our students yearly.
We will follow the progress of our friends as they begin and then implement their environment activism campaigns in their home communities. Subscribe to the blog, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get updates and photos of their progress.