Guatemala: Where it all began…
Hamilton Warren, the founder of Verde Valley School once said, “If my labor will serve you, I will not withhold it.” The quote aligns with several of the VVS guiding principles, including service to others, the value of physical labor, the value of world citizenship, and environmental stewardship – all important components of the experiential education at VVS.
One of the VVS programs that most actively embraces these guiding principles is Field Trips, held each November. Many schools offer field trips, but none do it in the inimitable VVS style. From the school’s beginnings in 1948, getting students out of their usual surroundings and engaged in a culture different than their own has been the guiding force behind our Field Trips.
This year, as part of our VVS Global Goals program which is already thriving in Malawi, we are introducing an international Field Trip to Guatemala. This seems most fitting as VVS Founders, Hamilton and Barbara Warren, first met in that country where Barbara’s parents owned a coffee plantation. Our students will be working there alongside an organization called Fotokids which was started by Nancy McGirr, a former Reuters news service photographer who covered the wars in Central America during the turbulent eighties. In 1991, she founded Fotokids, giving cameras to six children who lived in Guatemala City’s garbage dump.
Originally called Out of the Dump, Fotokids has served hundreds of at-risk children affected by poverty and violence by giving them a chance of a better life, using photography, graphic design, media technology and vocational training experience as tools for self-expression, creativity, leadership, and future employment.
Today, 27 years later, Fotokids has taught over a thousand children living in at-risk areas in Guatemala, Honduras, and California’s agricultural central valley. Creating a scholarship program early on for students from primary school through university and working with staff to design a 3-year vocational program for girls, Fotokids has helped graduates find employment in a disastrous job market. More information can be found at www.fotokidsoriginal.org.
We are thrilled to have Nancy McGirr at Verde Valley School as a part of our Global Goals Speaker Program on Friday, August 31 at 6:30 pm in Brady Hall. A warm welcome is extended to the greater Sedona community to attend.
Nancy McGirr has produced over 46 exhibits in 14 countries and has given interviews on BBC, Australian TV, ABC, Japanese and Dutch TV. She has given workshops and presentations in Algeria, Spain, Australia, Brazil, and at Harvard University, Boston Museum School, Konica in Tokyo, Photographers Gallery in London, PHotoEspaña in Madrid and was a TEDx speaker. She was the recipient of the prestigious Lucie Humanitarian Award in 2011.
Nancy has lived in Guatemala for the past twenty-nine years and has turned over the Executive Director position to Evelyn Mansilla who grew up in the dump. She now supports the project with fundraising, social media and producing the many exhibitions.