March 12, 2002 - Personal Web Page: Sharron Mendel's work in Youth Leadership and Development in Guatemala

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: Peace Corps in Guatemala: March 12, 2002 - Personal Web Page: Sharron Mendel's work in Youth Leadership and Development in Guatemala

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 4:35 pm: Edit Post

Sharron Mendel's work in Youth Leadership and Development in Guatemala

Sharron Mendel's work in Youth Leadership and Development in Guatemala

After my first year as an international development consultant working on women's rights and social change, I decided to spend three months in Central America to get a completely different perspective, and to return to a part of the world where I spent 6.5 months in 1992. The plan was to live in Managua, Nicaragua and work with an organization called Puntos de Encuentro, with a short trip to Guatemala to work on the First Annual Peace Corps / Guatemala Gender Conference: Youth Leadership and Development.

Puntos de Encuentro is a dynamic feminist organization that works to promote the rights of women and young people throughout Nicaragua. A number of innovative programs promote these goals, including producing the largest-circulation magazine in Nicaragua (La Boletina), annual youth leadership camps, a "Universidad de Las Mujeres" which works to build the capacity of the women's movement to tackle gender issues, a youth call-in radio program, campaigns with men against violence against women, and my favorite - Nicaragua's first-ever telenovela, Sexto Sentido. This is a weekly soap aimed at teens that uses mass media tools to promote social change (rather than market-driven) goals. My impression is that it's a great organization faced with a serious funding challenge brought about by decreased international aid coming to Nicaragua (because of government corruption, a focus on the former Yugoslavia and now the war on terrorism).

This past weekend, I returned from two weeks in Guatemala. The Peace Corps Gender conference was a resounding success. This was organized by my dear friend and colleague Ginger Daniel, who many of you will no doubt remember from AWID. It brought together a diverse group of 50 rural youth from all over Guatemala for 3.5 days. Plenary sessions covered topics such as gender, human rights, sexual health, and continuing education, and included a fantastic session on characteristics of a leader facilitated by Prudence Bushnell, the US Ambassador to Guatemala. Together, Ginger and I designed a series of 8 small group sessions which took place throughout the conference.

These allowed kids to process what they were learning in the plenary sessions, to deal with the additional themes of self-esteem, leadership and teamwork, to develop Community Action Plans, and of course to make new friends! These sessions were a rich part of the conference and the Community Action Plans were incredible - basically they outlined what the kids wanted to share with their communities, who they want to share it with, and how. In July and August there will be one-day regional conferences to follow up with the kids and see how the work on the Community Action Plans has progressed. In addition, Peace Corps Guatemala is all abuzz with excitement about gender issues and the staff and volunteers are keen to learn more.

Those are the highlights from the first few weeks - more to come.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guatemala; Special Interests - Youth Leadership; Special Interests - Gender Studies



By Anonymous ( - on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 1:45 pm: Edit Post


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