We recently returned from two weeks in Mexico, facilitating a leadership workshop for 20 girls and establishing the first Global Sorority chapter in Latin America. This will hopefully lead the way to the expansions of our girls' programs and to a beautiful new relationship with our closest neighbors to the south!
We were working in Merida, the capital of the Yucatán peninsula, which by the beginning of the twentieth century had the distinction of hosting more millionaires per capita than any place on the face of the earth. Although it has retained it’s wide tree-lined boulevards and French style colonial mansions, the patina of poverty has crept over most of the city previously referred to as the Paris of Mexico. The wealth once produced by plantations of henequen is long gone. Carved by history are vast divides between the indigenous Maya people and the European families who benefited from their labor.
Along with these divides comes a strong preference for lighter skin, similar to that seen in India. There we worked with very poor girls whose families would still pay for skin lightening creams such as “fair and lovey for teens” because they were afraid their daughters would have even more limited opportunities if they appeared "too" dark skinned. To our surprise the girls we worked with in Merida also perceived their dark Mayan skin, brown eyes and hair color to be a barrier in life.
In our training, girls have an opportunity to look very closely at self-limiting belief systems. They learn that embracing who they are inside can steer their story towards one of success. They discover with their strengths, unique qualities and contributions, they can stand much taller than the media, society or anyone else tells them. In a word, that’s empowerment! No one can take that away because these strengths are built from the inside, not dependent on socioeconomic status, education or skin tone.
So, yes, we travel thousand of miles to teach leadership skills to girls and we touch on some topics and issues that most people don’t associate with leadership. But a true leader must believe in themselves, realize their value and know that their voice matters.
Thank you for your continued support and for helping to shape the lives and futures of our someday leaders!
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