It’s been an incredible few days.
We’re here with thirteen youth from Boaco, and two youth from Matagalpa, who are going to be national and international vols this summer. They are so inspiring, so empowered, so thoughtful, and so silly. We are at this Feminist Public Pedagogy, Culture and Education Centre, and its seriously awesome. Covered in brilliant murals. Filled with signs that say “Aqui Se Respeta La Mujer.” Brimming with feminist history painted on the walls. Populated by awesome women wearing feminist t-shirts, and youth organizing for all kinds of causes. Youth organizing for a queer youth protest, women organizing against sexual violence, young people working with street kids— its just incredible. And the food is SO good. It’s been a haven. I was feeling like no one was radical, like the youth needed a jolt of something political, like the only one who really “gets it,” Maribel, was on maternity leave and out of the picture. It was feeling too normative and too mainstream… and not crazy, beautiful, insane, out of the box enough.
And then we got to the feminist centre. And everything was beautiful beautiful beautiful. I felt like I was home, finding this little oasis of all kinds of thoughtful, critical, organized people in the middle of the mountains of Nicaragua. Breath of fresh air, just what I needed. So much to take in visually, so many people to talk to, possibilities hatching every which direction.
And then the most amazing thing happened- my youth started asking questions! They started reading about the cultural myths told in stories and pictures around the place, they got interested in the women’s history mural, and they talked to a woman who painted a mural of women dancing and a rainbow and la cosecha, and asked her how she got that idea, and where it came from. They started talking to the queer youth organizers, and one of them asked me if we could do a workshop on gender and sexuality, and invite them to do some activities. They talked about childrens’ rights with the girl who was working with kids who pick through the trash at the local dump. And all this, in the down time between activities!
Suddenly, I was proud. Energized. Full of love and appreciation and hope. The activities Marta and Alberto and I led were awesome, the youth participating (mostly) with gusto and endless ideas. You’ll have to check back soon for videos and photos. So inspiring.
I’ve been a little sad to see them get ready, because it means most of them will leave Boaco, and go to Matagalp (mostly) or Ecuador. I won’t get to see them continue to grow, but I cannot wait to greet them at the airport or bus station in August, and listen to their endless stories. I simply can’t wait. This summer, these youth participants, they represent so much for me- the culmination of something that started back in 2000, though I never knew it would lead to a PhD and a 4-time-PD-experience. AMIGOS has come so far, and I’ve been so lucky to be on this decade long journey, where I’ve witnessed changes in the program structure to foster more youth engagement, and where I’ve had the chance to work hand in hand with all kinds of incredible youth along the way. The past three years have been so special- I’ve now watched these incredible youth from Boaco go from shy, young fourteen year olds who rarely spoke up and smiled abashedly at youth encuentros, to loud, opinionated, outspoken, hard to control seventeen and eighteen year olds with big visions, gigantic dreams, and tons of drive to get there. To be able to watch this kind of development is just oh so energizing, inspiring. These youth- Anielka, Pablo, Darling, Isac, Rita, Alan, Selene, Israel, Jerryx, Gladys, and so many more- these youth are what keep me going. Simply, LOVE.
And so, here we go. Time now, dear youth, to stretch your wings, to fly high, to show Ecaudor and Matagalpa what you’ve got, to teach the younger youth to be just like you, to change the world. As Pablo said, “I used to be so shy, and I never participated. Being with these youth and working with AMIGOS has helped me change that. Now I participate all the time.” Absolutely, Pablo. Me, too. I used to be shy, too, (believe it!) and for me, too, AMIGOS helped me becoming more outgoing, learn to speak my mind, and figure out how to accomplish a dream.
And this dream? It has thirteen incredible youth from Boaco in it, who are making it happen, right now. AMIGOS BOACO 2011, VAMANOS!!!