Crossing Borders, Finding Home
February 25, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Process Consultant, Emily Kruger writes about FESAC program in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico.
Part 1: Borders
We arrived in Ciudad Obregón after an incredible 4 days with the Physical Education teachers in Hermosillo, who set the bar very high for the three locations in our partnership with FESAC and SEC in Mexico. Within just a few minutes of Monday morning’s Circle of Friends, it was obvious that these 50 PE teachers would bring the same enthusiasm and creative thinking that enriched the week before. This meant another week with a special flare for a Year 2 program, where CAC could confidently share ownership of the week with the participants. When asked about creating and leading their own games, participants made it clear they wanted more responsibility than they took on last year.
By Tuesday they were already working together to prepare the session for Wednesday. There were seven groups of 4-5 coaches, each one huddled around big sheets of paper on make-shift tables with markers in hand. We walked around and listened in as they collaborated: pointing, moving, deliberating, drawing, and re-drawing. Within 30 minutes, each group had a full sheet of paper with a diagram up top, description of how to play, and potential questions to ask while leading it. They were even checking the criteria: Are the games you created universally accessible? Is there space for problem solving and critical thinking by the students? Is there a social impact message integrated into the game? We asked if they would be ready to coach them the next day and there was a resounding “sí!” from everyone.
My favorite game was called “Muro de Trump” or “Trump’s Wall”. They split the groups into four teams and asked each one to pick a Mexican city that borders the U.S. When the coaches called out a city, that team tried to “cross the border” without being tagged by the border control officers. They added ways to get through border control legally, like obtaining a visa i.e. a ball. This was such a creative, locally-relevant iteration of what I called “sharks and minnows” growing up. Considering it was a new idea, the coaches agreed that there was more to the metaphor that they are going to work out because they really want to use this game to talk with their students about the realities and dangers of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. For example, what are the consequences of being caught by border police without a visa? What might happen when you get to the other side? Why do people in Mexico want/need to live in the U.S.? There is so much here to dig into! Not only is it a dynamic game, but it also creates a space for some very important conversations between teachers and students here in Mexico.
This game made me see immigration through the lens of people in Mexico. It will be an important conversation and reflection to continue as we travel to Nogales for our final week working with the Physical Education teachers of Sonora, Mexico!
Emulating Self-Directed Learning
February 20th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Taylor Allen writes about her experience working with CAC and FESAC in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
The Coaches Across Continents team landed in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico at 11:30pm after four two-hour flights. While a bit exhausted we were greeted by a bubbly character by the name of Andrea from the local partner, Fundación del Empresario Sonorense (FESAC). She hit us with a burst of energy that quickly permeated our sleepiness. This is an energy that we would continue to experience with the participants throughout the week! Hermosillo reminded me a lot of home in Southern California. Paved roads with some street vendors selling delicious tamales, tacos, and fresh fruits.
The first day the partner took us to Náinari Lake. It was the place to be! Everyone was there. Vendors were selling food and drinks, there was a stage with live music, people were on pedal boats across the lake, zip lines longer than a football field were hanging above the lake, we saw birds being fed, trampolines being used, and countless children in battery operated cars driving around in front of their parents while they walked the perimeter of the lake. It was stunning. We were able to walk around and watch the sun set over the lake until it became too chilly. Then the partner took us back to our hotel. It was a nice break before getting the week started.
This week we worked with Physical Education teachers and students in the Hermosillo area. The teachers were eager to learn and get started. A lot of them remembered a couple of the games from last year and mentioned they used them throughout the year. We were told that one of the teachers even took the CAC curriculum they learned from last year to nearby after-school programs outside of Hermosillo. What an impact! It was so great to hear about the CAC curriculum making it’s way around Sonora, Mexico after teachers had gone through the training last year. This group was ready and engaged. As new games were being presented they had plenty of questions, conversations and creative solutions to current challenges facing their schools today. This group was so involved that they were able to adapt games on the spot when asked how they would change the game to make it even more relevant to what they face as Physical Education in schools in Sonora, Mexico.
Seeing this group take to the CAC curriculum so wholeheartedly, the CAC team decided they were ready for the challenge to create their own games in the realm of health and wellness, bullying, and inclusion issues. These issues were the main conversation points throughout the week. The teachers created teams of three to four people to collaborate, create, and deliver a new game that addressed the three main points above. The CAC curriculum “students” were now becoming the creators! The resources CAC supplied them with in regards to games, social messaging, and questions allowed this group to continue in their learning, challenging of concepts, and adapting to make them relevant to their area. It was phenomenal to see how well the games addressed certain issues and how well the teachers emulated Self-Directed Learning within their sessions. One of the Physical Education university students absorbed CAC so much that she wanted to know more about the philosophy and volunteer opportunities. Below is her story:
“My name is Dayanna Enriquez from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I attended the training sessions this past week. I currently study physical education and as a student, the sessions Mark, Taylor and Emily provided taught me so many things when it comes to teaching children. How simple games can impact the lives of so many kids and the way we as teachers can help them grow and accomplish many goals in life.
The week was very productive with a lot of fun games and lessons learned. We had lots of fun and they actually inspired me to find out more about the organization Coaches Across Continents to see if there is any way for me to volunteer and try and help others make the world a better place.
I want to thank Mark, Taylor and Emily for providing me with the opportunity to take part in the weekly sessions. Also I want to congratulate them for their enthusiasm and their great outgoing personalities that made this course lots of fun and a great atmosphere for us to learn while enjoying ourselves.
Hopefully one day I can get a chance to become part of this great experience!”
Coaches Across Continents has created a space for teachers at different schools to come together and start a conversation around how they can overcome the biggest issues facing their kids today. The CAC curriculum has already sparked action within the teaching community in Hermosillo. After successfully taking on the challenge of creating their own games with social messaging attached, the teachers are motivated and determined to continue the work and adaptation of the CAC curriculum to address relevant issues in their communities. I look forward to seeing the growth of this group in the next few months! Great job CAC!
Setting New G.O.A.L.S
February 13th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Taylor Allen writes about her experience working with CAC and G.O.A.L.S. Haiti in Léogâne Haiti.
Passing through Port-au-Prince into Léogâne took us from a concrete city to the tropical countryside. Just beyond the street borders to the west was the ocean and to the east was flat land full of sugar cane stalks reaching about four feet to six feet tall surrounded by palm trees bearing green coconuts. In the harvested areas animals roamed such as cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and horses. The air was cooler and lighter from the ocean breeze than the middle of the capital city, also not as many people or cars on the road. When we arrived to the apartment the entrance was secured by a giant metal blue sliding gate that covered the driveway at the curb. Once the security guard pushed it open we saw the entire driveway made of smooth oval black and gray rocks that crunched underneath the tires. There were bright white buildings embellished with blue and green accents from the color of the doors, window shutters, and staircase railings. In the middle of the driveway stood an enormous lush mango tree with green mangos dangling from the branches.
The program consisted of around twenty five coaches from G.O.A.L.S. Haiti – a sport-for-development nonprofit organization helping children and teens in Haiti through the love of soccer. Many of the coaches met us at the G.O.A.L.S. office; the apartment we stayed in sits just above it. The G.O.A.L.S. Haiti staff share a white pick-up truck and every morning there would be around ten coaches in the bed of the truck ready to hitch a ride to the field for training. Being welcomed by that type of energy every morning was uplifting to say the least! We would open our door to come downstairs and around five to ten coaches would greet us once we were down by the mango tree. The field we got to play on was a grass field enclosed by a chain link fence with several openings that would later allow for chickens, goats and stray dogs to find themselves roaming around our trainings. At one point, a goat found herself in the middle of the goal when we were about to do a shooting game. Other fields were right next to sugar cane areas with cows, pigs, and horses within a couple yards of the field. The background was a scenic view of green mountains with the sun setting just over the horizon. It was a stunning view with the green mountains, tall palm trees with coconuts, lush sugar cane fields, and animals roaming around filling the landscape.
This week we were accompanied by Community Impact Coaches (CIC’s) from the Haitian Initiative Program. These particular Haitian Initiative coaches have been a several year partner with Coaches Across Continents and have been noticeably impactful in their communities by using CAC curriculum. The CIC’s are there to support CAC in delivering the curriculum side-by-side to other partners, with the hope of Haitian Initiative and G.O.A.L.S. Haiti to join forces and continue to build onto each others’ positive impacts in communities throughout Haiti beyond the borders of their own cities. It was great to see other programs with similar missions coming together and discussing how they can join forces to create an even bigger ripple in their communities.
One of my favorite moments from the week in Léogâne happened after the first day. A young woman who speaks English, and is an English teacher, came up to me and told me she learned two things that day. I was excited she opened up to me after the first day to share! I hadn’t experienced that in the three weeks in Haiti. She continued to tell me about her two favorite games from the day. She loved Mingle-Mingle and the Financial Literacy game. In Mingle-Mingle one of the questions asked was to get together with people of the same faith or religion. There were about five groups, and this woman, was actually standing alone. She mentioned she was Mormon, and not a lot of people in her community were Mormon, and for that moment on the field, she realized religion doesn’t have to be a conflict point. She learned that no matter what religion another person is they can still get along, they can still bond and work together on the soccer field, and they can still bond and work together off the field. I thought that was really neat to hear! In the Financial Literacy game she mentioned how she learned about taking ownership of her income, educating herself about options, and becoming empowered to make her own decision about whether to save, spend, or even invest. She never thought about investing or making investment purchases to move closer to her goals. Both comments really solidified positive outcomes and impacts the CAC curriculum can have on people that participate in these programs. It’s often difficult to see any sort of impact made in a week with people who speak another language, so it was reassuring for a participant to share these lessons with me.
From the tropical setting, plus three organizations joining forces, in addition a woman opening up about lessons learned after day one – needless to say, this was an incredible experience. Coaches Across Continents is creating a safe space for their partners to have conversations around forward thinking and challenging harmful societal traditions in their communities all driven by the participants themselves. CAC is empowering individuals to think creatively, to challenge harmful mindsets, and to envision a better future; all through sport! The Self-Directed Learning model (SDL) is giving opportunities to people who want to see a change in their communities for the better. They are equipping participants with curriculum that can open up the conversation around improvements within themselves, their teams, their communities, and ultimately turn them into action plans. I am proud to be a part of an organization so driven to create a better world, one partner and community at a time. Keep up the great work CAC!
An Interview With A CAC Participant
February 18th 2016. A Q & A with Francisco Ramon Longoria Pacheca, a participant in the recent CAC training in Nogales, Mexico with FESAC.
Q: How did you come to hear about the Coaches Across Continents training in Nogales?
Francisco: I’m around this area a lot. I play basketball on the courts just behind the soccer field; I coach over there every now and then too. I don’t play soccer, but I saw you guys out here and thought the course looked interesting. Other coaches from FESAC encouraged me to join so I did.
Q: You said you do some basketball coaching, who do you coach and for what team?
Francisco: Well, I’m not a coach in the traditional sense. Basketball is my passion, so if I see a game going on at one of the courts I join in and play a bit while giving pointers and tips to the kids. Here in Mexico we have a lot of talented young basketball players, but they go without good coaching for so long that they develop bad habits.
Q: Have you found this training useful as a basketball coach?
Francisco: This training has helped me be more aware of myself and it’s certainly helped me become a better sportsman and person. A lot of the games we played could easily work as basketball games too.
Q: Which game would you say is your favorite?
Francisco: All the child rights games! If I had to choose, I think I would go with the [Right to] Information game. To be successful your team has to work together, focus and pay close attention. The game is a fun way to develop intelligence.
Q: What about the child rights games did you enjoy? Why is this an important issue for Mexico?
Francisco: I think one of the most important things we talked about this week was the creation of safe spaces for children. Without these how can we expect children to develop into the adults they want to be? Adults also need to be conscious about giving children private space, as this also helps with their development. I really like the idea of people and families working together and coexisting together. When this happens we are able to use everyone’s skills to solve our own problems. These lessons are not just important for Mexico, but for the whole world.
Q: Thanks for your time Francisco, do you have any other thoughts on your week with Coaches Across Continents?
Francisco: Thank you for this opportunity, this has been so much fun. Sports is life, man.
Integrating CAC Into The Sonora Education System
An interview with Ana Berta Salazar, one of the authorities of the Education Department, our partners in Sonora, México.
February 12th 2016. During our three weeks in Sonora, México, we’ve assisted in the strategic process as the members of the Education and Culture Department (SEC) aim to include Sport For Social impact as a tool for sustainable community transformation inside the public education system. Specifically as a part of the Physical Education Curriculum for elementary and secondary schools.
Since most of the time you hear how a program went from our perspective as Self-Directed Learning coaches, we wanted to offer this space to one of our implementing partners to share with you how they’ve received the Coaches Across Continents experience in their community.
Ana Berta Salazar, one of the authorities of the Education Department in Sonora México, said:
“As the public sector, the Education and Culture Department of the government in Sonora has committed to facilitate the education for children and youth to become people with integrity that can serve our society and community in Sonora. As the Director of Linkage in this department I decided to find innovative ways to address subjects of potential social impact, that might promote the improvement of strong values and humanity in local youth. We found that opportunity when a member of FESAC (Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense A.C) talked to us about the CAC program. From this conversation emerges a strategic alliance that led to over 200 Gym Teachers receiving the training in 3 of the main cities of the state: Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregón and Nogales.
Our experience could not have been better: teachers excited, committed and aware of the relevance that their work has with youth that clamor for love and guidance. There is nothing more gratifying than a teacher’s smile. They all attended daily with the best attitude; “This is the type of knowledge we’ve needed for years”, “I’m so happy that I had to tell my family about this”, “we want these trainings to happen again”, “thank you so much for thinking about us” or “yesterday I already started putting in practice what we learned during the morning” are some of the comments we’ve heard so far.
We know that the effort, the search for spaces and resources to make this happen was worth it. We feel convinced of the impact that this training will have on our children and youth, the future social artists of the development and transformation of Sonora. We are proud to be the first state to integrate CAC’s Hat Trick Initiative into the public education system in México.”
Mexican Teachers Get Creative
CAC SDL coach Turner Humphries blogs from Hermosillo, Mexico as we begin a partnership with FESAC.
Admittedly, my Spanish has yet to reach fluent levels, but from what I could gather it seemed like one of the participants was asking me a great deal about the type of football played North of the border. He went on to ask me where all my equipment was? Didn’t I need a helmet and shoulder pads? Attempting to ease his worries, I pointed to the box of One World Futbols. “We only need those,” I said. A look of pure relief swept over his face, surely glad that I hadn’t arrived in Hermosillo to conduct linebacker training.
For our week in Hermosillo, Mexico we would be working with FESAC, an organization that works to link groups within the community together to create spaces for sustainable development and the Department of Education and Culture. With us on the field were over 100 physical education teachers from primary and secondary schools. While most of the participants were experiencing sport for social impact for the first time, they brought with them a creative spirit that meshed perfectly with Coaches Across Continents’ mantra of ‘solve your problem.’ On our final day together the participants were divided into two groups to conduct coach-backs. As the coaches made their way to field, we saw more than just their customary coffee in their hands. Twenty multi-color hula hoops, a handful of bandanas and two massive exercise balls were all making their way to field. The hula hoops were used in a tag game. With hula hoop in hand, the taggers set off trying to infect free players with a disease by catching the free players inside the hula hoop. Cones were then added which allowed the free players to avoid the wrath of the hula hoop; these cones represented healthy measures that would reduce your chance of disease. The bandanas were used in a problem solving game. The bandanas were used to simulate blindness, those teammates without a blindfold were tasked with getting their blind teammate to dribble through a set of cones. The enormous exercise balls were used in an adaption of the CAC game ‘Pairs Scrimmage.’ The rules were adapted to include a mix of rugby, American football, soccer and basketball, hilarity ensued.
Thinking back to my physical education classes in secondary school I remember itchy gray t-shirts, deflated soccer balls, teenage angst and a teacher that looked like he would have rather been anywhere else. Clearly the students in Hermosillo never have a dull day when they arrive to physical education class, for that they have this creative bunch of teachers to thank.