And we’re back! I am happy to share that our adventures in Belize have concluded and the youth led awesomeness happening with Maya youth is off to an amazing start. Myself and Kakeka had an amazing time representing AYO! & Meet Me at the Bell Tower and sharing with the youth leaders of the newly minted “Sounding of the Conch Shell”. We are so grateful to the University of Manitoba Community Service Learning, POP Entertainment & Management and the entire community of youth leaders and helpers who made this amazing experience possible for us. We look forward to our continued relationship into the future!
We spent much of our time directly in a Maya village in southern Belize & were able to build strong relationships with many youth leaders from across different communities thanks to support from the Julian Cho Society & their networks. These young people have committed to working together to empower one another on a constant basis and luckily have many adults who are very supportive of their ideas. We had many experiences together that were life changing and had us asking if this was real life like exploring waterfalls, learning from strong women leaders & sitting in ceremony at an ancient Maya site. The highlight of leadership activities included the youth taking photos of the joys, sorrows & hopes in their community with photo voice, drawing out their dreams for the future, presenting their thoughts and collectively deciding on the areas they wanted to focus. The themes they landed on including Maya youth leadership, gender equality & traditional/cultural knowledge look very similar to our work in AYO!
Some of the next steps we look forward to include gathering partners here in Winnipeg that will help us to bring some Maya youth leaders here next year and in the long term work on connecting Indigenous innovations from different territories around the world in a creative way. I know for me as I finally process all the experiences and realizations from this adventure I will be sharing more on this blog like the time MC & Kakeka heard and uncovered the conch shell in Day 1, crossing a dangerous rope bridge in the jungle & details of the AYO presentation we shared with the youth. Also, thanks to Angie Lamirande who came along with us and was able to capture many high quality photos and videos, there will be a forthcoming short video project/documentary coming about this adventure. The other thing I am excited for is other communities inviting AYO leaders all around the world to share our work with them so they can take what’s useful, celebrate their own cultures & take some youth led actions.
This Friday (July 12) join us at the bell tower to see some photos & hear some stories from myself, Kakeka & some of the U of MB students who were able to attend.
More stories coming soon!