Creating Creators Internationally, part 2

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Sergio, August 21, 2019

Week one has quickly passed, and the work for Festival Ñapita is in full swing.  And true to Big Thought’s way of working, we hit the ground running with site visits, programming and event planning.  (Ñapita comes from the colloquial use of the word for an exchange of goods/services where one gives a little more in the process.) And of course authentic partnerships were a huge part of the effort. We collaborated closely with Dandelion Media, Aldeas Infintales SOS, Panama, and YLAI to prepare youth from Aldeas Infinatles to host their own entrepreneurial fair. 

Together with our partner organizations, we are empowering youth ages 12-18 to develop their entrepreneurial skills to inspire them to become the creators of their own futures beyond their stay at Aldeas Infintales. Youth are creating products for sale based on their personal interests. Items and products ranged from cookies and cupcakes, to hand crafted decorative items for the home.  Youth will have an opportunity to sell their products at Festival Ñapita and keep their proceeds from their sales.

We are challenging them to think beyond their current situation with the ultimate goal of imparting creative thinking, entrepreneurial and emotional intelligence skills. 

As I begin my work with the young creators of Festival Ñapita, I began to think more about the process of creating creators and barriers that inhibit the creator in myself and in others. What stood out as one of the biggest, but easiest barriers to overcome, is language. When a person knows how to “speak the language” then a true connection can be made to begin the creator’s process.   

Yes, I speak Spanish and understand the language so I’ve been able to easily maneuver my travels here in Panama.  But just because I understand the language, doesn’t mean I can fully connect to a person to be able to engage them, inspire them, and/or motivate them to become a creator.  “What more do I need to know?,” I asked myself. I need to know HOW to talk to them.

Speaking the language means more than understanding the raw words being shared.  It means being able to connect through culture, through identity, and through the understanding of lived experiences. I need to get on their level.

This concept holds true for the youth that I engage with in the States.  I have to be able to speak to youth on their level. When I’m been able to connect with youth on their level, is where I find the “Ahha!” moments in life. For me and for them. 

For Festival Ñapita, the youth at Aldeas Infintales are like any other youth in the States, or even around the world for that matter.  They are eager, they are distracted, they are pushing through their barriers of childhood to adulthood. It was interesting for me to see how youth are no more different in Panama than they are in the States. 

That was the second barrier that I had to overcome. Perception. Why did I think youth here in Panama would be different than in the States? 

I’m still working through that, but, for now, I’m enamored by these young creators. And now, it is my job to break down those barriers of language and perception to inspire the creator inside each of them. I have to overcome my own barriers of fear and inadequacy. I have to connect with them on their level so that they can trust me. I want them to trust me enough to share their interests and experiences, so that I can inspire the creator in them.  Luckily, I brought cookies for them to begin to build that bridge and build that trust.      

Read Sergio’s Week Three Experience 

Big ThoughtCreating Creators Internationally, part 2

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