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Community Engagement & Service

Creative Impact: Youth Empowerment in Honduras

Honduras alt break

Credit to AU alt break leaders from 2017 program

The Program:

OYE's (our community partner) 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. 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.  

But there is some controversy surrounding this strategy in Latin American communities plagued by violence. According to a World Bank sustainable development working paper, “because gang members are linked to communities in other ways than through the gang, it is not enough to attempt to organize gang-affected communities.” The complete erosion of trust in some communities is a massive hurdle that cannot be surmounted by mural painting alone, but it may be a tool to at least begin reparations. 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, the same World Bank working paper that criticized the efficacy of community-building 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 succeeded in parts of El Salvador and Nicaragua. 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.

Engagement Itinerary: (tentative)

Saturday, March 11, 2018
Airport pick-up
Settle in, rest and lunch at hotel
Visit OYE; tour of offices; meet staff and pick-up soccer game with "Deportes en Acción" (Sports Program)
Dinner at hotel

Sunday, March 12, 2018
Breakfast at hotel
Dynamics with OYE scholars; inventory/organization of donations; preparation of materials
Start work on community service projects
Panels held by local educators. Open debate and discussion
Pick up soccer game and dinner (Location: Railroad Museum or Proniño Foundation)
Dinner at scholars' house

Monday, March 13, 2018
Breakfast at hotel
National Reality Presentation
Tour of El Progreso
Lunch at OYE
Continue work on community service projects
Dinner at hotel

Tuesday, March 14, 2018
Breakfast at hotel
Tour of High Schools
Shopping for souvenirs in city center
Lunch at OYE
Continue work on community service projects
Dinner at scholars' house

Wednesday, March 15, 2018
Breakfast at hotel
Continue to work on community service projects
Lunch at Nutrition Center
Afternoon in the park with kids from OYE
Pick up soccer game and dinner (Location: Railroad Museum or Proniño Foundation)

Thursday, March 16, 2018
Breakfast at hotel
Cultural excursion to OYE scholars' house in the mountains of Mico Quemado (Includes: hiking and lunch)
Continue work on community service projects: Arte La Calle
Dinner at hotel

Friday, March 17, 2018
Breakfast at hotel
Drive to Tela
Visit Lancetilla Botanical Gardens
Lunch in Tela
Afternoon at the beach
Drive back to El Progreso
Final dinner with OYE staff

Saturday, March 18, 2018
Breakfast at hotel; reflections and evaluations
Drive to airport

Quick Facts

 Destination: El Progresso, Honduras

Cost: $1,895

Dates: March 11-18, 2018

Adviser: TBD

Cost Includes: Airfare, lodging, meals, ground transportation, admission fees, guides, travel insurance, and administrative fees. 

Cost does NOT include: visas or immunizations if needed. 

Apply before October 23rd, 2017!

Meet Your Student Leaders!

Nicole Vaughan is a sophomore Theatre Major at American University. She was born and raised in Mexico City until the age of fifteen when she moved to the United States. She is a member of the CAS LEAD program where she holds an executive board position as Retreat co-chair, as well as being a part of AU Players and the Rude Mechanicals. This will be her second time traveling to El Progeso, Honduras with Alternative Breaks which has been one of the greatest experiences of her life. She is very excited to continue working with OYE, seeing friends in Honduras, and continue to learn more about the world by travelling. If not in class or rehearsal, Nicole can be found with friends, cooking family dishes, or watching something on Netflix. Favorite movies include but are not limited to: the Harry Potter series, V for Vendetta, Better of Dead, and a Christmas Story.  

“I am very excited to go back to Honduras as a leader for Alternative Breaks and share this amazing experience.” 

Angelica Vega (she/her/hers) is a 2nd year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, hopefully majoring in political science (SPA) and minoring in public health (CAS). She was born and raised in New Jersey. During her time here in AU, she has had the opportunity to work at the AUSG as Deputy Director of Academic affairs, Anime Society as Outreach Manager, CAS Lead as an active student, and AU Experience as an active student. She is passionate in dedicating her life to help others through advocacy. When she is not busy with her college work, she likes to draw and paint, hang out with friends, binge-watch Marvel TV shows, and play video games." 

"I am excited to lead Honduras Alternative Break because I love to learn more about Honduras, and work with OYE again."