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!