March 11, 2017 - March 18, 2017
“Learn about youth empowerment initiatives and community development over spring break in Honduras. Then, come back to Washington, DC and help nonprofits with local initiatives.”
The 2017 program will focus on empowering Honduran youth through education and community development. Our primary community partner and sponsor for this program is the Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE), a Honduran NGO founded in 2005 that is dedicated to providing opportunities for youth empowerment and higher education in Honduras.
The first two days of the program will includea visit to OYE’s office, meeting staff and local community contacts, and a possible visit to an orphanage for the deaf. There will be panels held by local educators and youth empowerment experts, which will be followed by open debate and discussion with audience members.
Over the next few days, students will work with Honduran youth leaders on a program called Arte de la Calle, which is OYE'S communal art program. Students will help Honduran leaders in painting murals and street art across the city. Communal artwork provides participants with a sense of accomplishment and creates lasting communal bonds.
Most meals will be in the homes of OYE scholarship recipients, a service OYE pays for (included in the program fee). During the evening, there are frequent soccer tournaments, spelling bees, and other activities that participants are able to engage with in the community. In the past, OYE has also had a half-day cultural excursion to a scholar’s house in the mountains of Mico Quemado.
The last day of the trip will be an R&R day, which includes a visit to the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens and the coastal town of Tela.
Our community service project aligns with our social justice issue, youth empowerment, because it fosters youth empowerment. Honduran youth leaders are the ones facilitating the entire project; they have complete ownership of the engagement and learn valuable skills in orchestrating this project. Furthermore, the art murals improve the community’s atmosphere and bring groups together (community development). Spending time in the community for meals and during the evening strengthens participants’ understanding of the community’s culture and the social justice issue more intimately.
Youth Empowerment through Community Development
The theory behind empowering youth through communal artwork, specifically mural painting, is rooted in two parts.
First, youth who participate in communal art projects build relationships through collaboration. They get to know their neighbors and foster a network of physical and emotional support. Moreover, the end product of the project is the creation of a meaningful place to work and live. In his 2012 article, “Painting Material Culture,” Michael Mosher explains that “A community mural is democratic politics in the best sense of the word, a process of incorporation of many voices, addressing multiple agendas and needs so everyone benefits.” After completing the project, youth should feel proud of the place they live and the people that surround them.
Second, communal artwork builds self-esteem through accomplishment. Young people are afforded leadership opportunities, a sense of project ownership via decision-making, and are held accountable for the choices they make over the course of the art project. In fact, a World Bank sustainable development working paper that notes that programs that focus on providing opportunities to at-risk youth “are probably the most effective type of youth gang intervention strategy,” and such programs have succeeded in parts of El Salvador and Nicaragua.
OYE’s purpose is to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth “to break the cycle of poverty and develop into young leaders who inspire positive change in their homes, schools and communities.” In his Education for All Global Monitoring Report for the UN, Lucio Severo explains that access to and quality of education is “strongly influenced by social and economic stratification.” Our program hopes to minimize that stratification by providing youth with leadership skills and safe, beautiful communities in which to thrive.