Jessica is the Director of the New England Biolabs Foundation, which has generously underwritten ArtCorps' overhead costs since our founding. Jessica recently traveled to rural Guatemala with other supporters for a firsthand look at Art for Social Action.
I recently visited two ArtCorps projects in Guatemala as a participant in ArtCorps’ first-ever Learning Journey, joining other donors and ArtCorps board members to see first-hand the impacts of using the arts for social action. I was deeply impressed with the dedication of the ArtCorps volunteers and the relationships that they have developed with their Guatemalan counterparts and in the communities where they are working. I was also struck by the cultural sensitivity and flexibility underlying their approach. Working closely with their local partners they were able to integrate indigenous and local traditions with innovative arts-based methods to create programs that were clearly embraced by people in the rural communities we visited.
Our site visits showed me the potential of this kind of arts-based approach for transformative education –creating space for reflection and dialogue so that participants can draw on their own indigenous knowledge, practices and beliefs to meet the challenges facing their communities. I find this integrative aspect of the ArtCorps model particularly exciting and relevant to many of the social and environmental challenges in countries of Latin America. I believe it offers much potential for helping rural communities, such as the ones we visited in Guatemala, move toward greater well-being and self-determination.
ArtCorps works to empower the most economically disadvantaged communities in Central America, focusing on youth leadership, working with rural communities and indigenous women and children throughout Central America. The organization is at a critical juncture in its development – poised to expand its impact in the communities and region where it is working.
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