Community Radio Waves Empower Rural Guatemala

 
$400
$9,600
Raised
Remaining
Mar 13, 2013

Closing Report and Thank You!

ArtCorps is concluding its Community Radio Wave Empower Rural Guatemala Project in Guatemala but would first like to reflect on the accomplishments of this past year.

ArtCorps Artist Patricia Escalon is a Salvadoran-Australian artist with experience in film, theater and writing. Patricia spent the last year and a half working with indigenous youth to train the next generation of broadcasters and journalists in rural Guatemala. By the end of this project, these ArtCorps trained youth produced a training video on radio broadcasting that was disseminated throughout the 175 indigenous radio stations in the community radio network.

Through the process of learning how to create a training video, the youth gained leadership skills and participated in weekly workshops where they gained confidence and skills in storyboarding, camera use, lighting, color, sound, post-production and editing. The youth also practiced their new technical and storytelling skills as they produced engaging videos that share critical information about human rights. They covered topics such as Mayan identity, HIV/AIDS, fair trade and the inspiring story of one of their peers.

Nelson Poncio, who completed Patricia’s workshops, lost use of his legs when he contracted polio as a baby. Despite this disability and the challenge of coming from a family with few resources, Nelson was able to make his dream of becoming a radio show host come true. Nelson is now one of the best-known radio broadcasters and soccer commentators in the Quetzaltenango region.

When he first joined ArtCorps’ video production workshops for community radio staff volunteers,  although Nelson was used to being center stage as a radio broadcaster, he refused to appear before a camera. But as he learned about video production techniques, screenwriting and video direction, he got more and more involved in the process. By the end, he not only agreed to appear before the camera as an announcer, but also to tell his own story of overcoming his disabilities to inspire others that have doubts about their own abilities.

On completing the video production training program, Nelson thanked Patricia for having had faith in him and for giving him the opportunity to lead others. He recognized that without this opportunity, he wouldn’t have dared to give an interview to El Quetzalteco, the leading local newspaper, about his life. Nelson explains, “I never imagined that I had the inner creativity and vision that I discovered when I learned how to make videos.”

Nelson is now manager of the Doble Via community radio station, and will continue to use the skills developed through ArtCorps workshops to mobilize positive change in surrounding communities.

Thank you for supporting the Community Radio Wave Empower Rural Guatemala Project. You have made an incredible positive impact by helping Nelson and other youth to develop creative leadership skills that will take flight on the community radio waves!


Jul 11, 2012

Winning Trust in the Highlands of Guatemala

ArtCorps Artist Patricia Escalon knew the volunteer radio broadcasters had every reason to distrust her and little time to invest in Art for Social Action. They are part of a larger network of indigenous radio stations that has been battling the Guatemalan government, private enterprise, the police and the army to exercise their right to have a medium of communication in their community.

They say you earn trust – it is not just given away. However, it looks like trust can be planted, just by trusting someone else.

My first meeting with the volunteer radio broadcasters at Doble Via Radio Station in San Mateo, Guatemala happened after an on-site training session, where we all gathered and introduced themselves. I had them write out their phone numbers and email addresses (only some of them use email) and tell me what they wanted to learn and hoped to get out of the year I would be spending with them. Their names tended to be a blur to me at first, only crystallizing as we spent more and more time together.

We set a meeting to discuss timetables, something that would repeat itself endlessly in this experience. What we take for granted in most wealthy countries when it comes to youth is time. They have so much of it in wealthier societies that boredom often leads to antisocial behavior. The opposite is true of the volunteers in San Mateo.

One example of a time-poor girl is Merlita. She wakes up at 4 a.m. every day to help her mother wash clothing for people in San Mateo. She cooks breakfast for the whole family with her mother. She has six siblings living at home and she also has to help take care of three of them who have mental disabilities. Merlita also helps her father out on the fields. They grow their own food. Merlita also brings in extra income to the family as makeshift hairdresser for brides in the surrounding town. For Merlita to come to participate in the project this year, she has to set time aside, which is not an easy task.

Merlita started out as part of a group of 14 youth who wanted to participate in video production. My task was to facilitate workshops that allowed them to learn all aspects of video production and practice what they had learned by producing five short videos for the community radio network. There were so many participants in the beginning, that I had to split them up into morning and afternoon groups on weekends, the only time they had free.

I started out by granting them my complete confidence and trust in their engagement with the project. After all, trust engenders trust. Their first two months were very exciting for them. They were learning eagerly, and they enjoyed the didactic games we did. My aim was for them to not only learn the technical skills that went with video production, but to develop their creativity and sense of responsibility so they could use Art for Social Action. By the time Christmas 2011 rolled around, I had won their trust just by spending time with them. My first hurdle was over. There were more to come….

This project is being carried out in collaboration with Cultural Survival.

Apr 24, 2012

Youth Move Towards Dreams

ArtCorps Artist Naphtali Fields and the 2012 Artists in Residence visit a Cultural Survival community radio station in Xela, Guatemala.

Our excitement grew as the bus climbed up the mountain towards the community of San Mateo, outside of Queztaltenango. On our way to spend the morning with youth volunteers in a community radio station we passed cows crossing the road, men pedaling furiously on bicycles, selling the morning paper, and buses that spit exhaust so black the shimmering air around them recoiled. We disembarked, and began the five minute process of greeting kisses and hugs with the few indigenous youth standing shyly outside the radio gate.

“This is Freddy, Ximena, Ruby, Merlita and Anna!” began my colleague ArtCorps Artist Patricia Escalon, the multi-media artist who has been working with the Radio Doble Via youth. They stepped towards us timidly, shaking our hands with small smiles and looking at the ground.

Isabel led the group in breathing exercises; we giggled nervously when she made us feel our partner’s lungs as we inhaled and exhaled deeply. Then Evelina joyfully jumped in. She taught us how to move our bodies to different rhythms. By the time we got to the African beat, the group was so enthusiastic that one of our cohorts had fractured her foot in two places. The activity paused as everyone rushed to help and five minutes later she was comfortably cushioned on mattresses, with various sweatshirts as pillows and ice on her leg.  A little subdued, we kept working.

The youth have worked mostly on radio production, but movement workshops were new to them. We began exploring techniques for story-building using physical theater techniques. Using body sculptures, the youth began to share their different experiences of rural Guatemalan reality.

What did we see?

A portrait of the youth by the youth showing the everyday injustices of their lives. Some were sculpted into gang-members, stabbing innocents in the street. Others showed hopelessness, ignorance and the violence that takes place behind closed doors. It was a pretty powerful and depressing picture.

So where are these young people headed if they’re coming from so much hardship?

Well, we did a second sculpture and this time, we asked them what they wanted from life. What a difference! We saw Willy reaching towards his dreams, Freddy studying hard, Rubi’s father hugging her, proud of her achievements. There were no more knifings, and instead of fear, hope took center stage.

Jan 24, 2012

Finding Warmth in Radio Doble Via

Radio Doble Via
Radio Doble Via

Our excitement grew as the bus climbed up the mountain towards the community of San Mateo, outside of Queztaltenango.  On our way to spend the morning with youth volunteers in a community radio station we passed cows crossing the road, men pedaling furiously on bicycles, selling the morning paper, and busses that spit exhaust so black the shimmering air around them recoiled.   We disembarked, and began the five minute process of greeting kisses and hugs with the few indigenous youth standing shyly outside the radio gate.

"This is Freddy, Ximena, Ruby, Merlita, and Anna!"  began Patricia, the multi-media artist who has worked with the youth for the last three months.  They stepped towards us timidly, shaking our hands with small smiles and looking at the ground.

Isabel led the group in breathing exercises; we giggled nervously when she made us feel our partner's lungs as we inhaled and exhaled deeply.  Then Evelina joyfully jumped in.  She taught us how to move our bodies to different rhythms.  By the time we got to the African beat, the group was so enthusiastic that one of our cohorts had fractured her foot in two places.  The activity paused as everyone rushed to help and five minutes later she was comfortably cushioned on mattresses, with various sweatshirts as pillows and ice on her leg.   A little subdued, we kept working.

The youth have worked mostly on radio production, but movement workshops were new to them.  We began exploring techniques for story-building using physical theater techniques.  Using body sculptures, the youth began to share their different experiences of rural Guatemalan reality.

What did we see?

A portrait of the youth by the youth showing the everyday injustices of their lives.  Some were sculpted into gang-members, knifing innocents in the street.  Others showed hopelessness, ignorance, and the violence that takes place behind closed doors.  It was a pretty powerful and depressing picture.

So where are these young people headed if they're coming from so much hardship?

Well, we did a second sculpture and this time, we asked them what they wanted from life.  What a difference!  We saw Willy reaching towards hope,  Freddy studying hard, Rubi's father hugging her, proud of her achievements.  There were no more knifings, and instead of fear, play took center stage.

Oct 18, 2011

The Power of Radio

During her time in Guatemala, ArtCorps Artist Monika Navarro worked with Cultural Survival to strengthen the capacity of indigenous communities in Guatemala through projects that disseminated knowledge, facilitate communication and build a stronger sense of identity as a community radio network.  Monika worked closely with Cultural Survival as well as its grassroots partner, Radio Ixchel. 

Throughout her time in Guatemala, Monika was able to identify critical topics and increase awareness about those topics through radio. In addition to her work with Radio Ixchel, Monika traveled to several different radio stations that are part of the indigenous community radio network in Guatemala, connect with them, and teach them new ways of utilizing radio, a powerful resource. 

ArtCorps is pleased to announce the next ArtCorps Artist who has already started her work with Cultural Survival. Patricia Escalon is an innovative and talented artist who has an extensive background in documentary film and theater.  Patricia Escalon has been crafting stories since childhood. Patricia has a BA in Journalism and a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing. She is a skilled screenwriter, documentary videographer, still photographer and social media user. Patricia will be able to shed a different light on radio programs, share her expertise on communication and creativity, and how these elements can be effectively utilized to enhance audience engagement via radio while conveying critical information. In addition, Patricia will be working with youth to cultivate the next generation of radio broadcasters.

“Artists have always been social activists. Their role is to hold a mirror to society, encouraging individuals to question the status quo. Storytelling adds to this role by allowing individuals to connect to each other by sharing stories and by fostering mutual understanding between different peoples. It is only by empathizing with each other that we can transform our society.”  ~ Patricia Escalon


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Organization

ArtCorps

Ipswich, MA, United States
http://www.artcorp.org

Project Leader

Louisa Trackman

Ipswich, MA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Community Radio Waves Empower Rural Guatemala