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ISH Youth-led Youth Empowerment and Leadership Training 2019

In April of this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba to teach students from the International School of Havana. In previous years I have taught at the annual CYCLe event in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was my first time co-facilitating a group of students as part of an independent event. The overall experience was very enlightening not only because I got to travel, teach, and inspire (three of my favorite things) but mostly because I got to meet a group of students who are genuinely concerned about the wellness of our earth and are actively seeking means of being involved in the sustainability movement. In other words, I got to meet the leaders and change agents of tomorrow, or as I like to say, TODAY, because there’s no time like the present. It was very inspiring to watch them grasp important concepts and get excited about the chance to make a difference.

Roughly forty students from the International School of Havana travelled to Varadero, Cuba, to attend this 3-day training centred around sustainability, leadership, and systems thinking. Over the course of the training, students were introduced to various systems thinking tools created and/or adapted by Compass Education to teach people about non-linear thinking, systems mapping, and creating action plans, amongst other important topics. The training provided ISH students with a collection of tools that, with practice, help develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills in and outside of the classroom. For example, the Systems Iceberg was introduced as a method of analyzing a situation and identifying its root cause. This tool can be used to tackle a big-picture/world problem or a smaller more personal issue; either way, it challenges students to dig deep in order to search for and find an answer to any problem they may have identified.

This event was highly successful in my opinion as the students walked away from it confidently with tangible action plans and a better understanding of the importance of sustainability. It was an experience I would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Picture of Caitlin Barnum

Caitlin Barnum

Cait Barnum, originally from the crystal coast of North Carolina, now calls the beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home. She moved to Mexico 7 years ago with the Peace Corps, and found her way into teaching Middle and High School Sciences, as well as being our Sustainability and Systems Coordinator for at time, but now is leading the STEM+ Department. Folding in systems thinking tools and habits into the whole school community is a passion as well as a goal of hers.

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