Mex­ico camp ef­fects a cul­ture of change

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Two young lead­ers are hop­ing their eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in South Amer­ica will have last­ing ef­fects around the globe.

Na’or Ber­man and Glo­ria McNutt-Strawhan, both 14, trav­elled to Mex­ico with two other New Zealand teenagers and groups from Europe, Amer­ica and South Amer­ica for a three-week in­ter­na­tional sum­mer camp de­signed to in­crease un­der­stand­ing among cul­tures.

The camp is run by CISV In­ter­na­tional, a peace or­gan­i­sa­tion founded in 1950 with more than 200 groups around the world en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to make a dif­fer­ence in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and re­spect cul­tural dif­fer­ences.

For Free­mans Bay res­i­dent Glo­ria the ex­pe­ri­ence was not only a chance to learn about peo­ple’s dif­fer­ences but also to pass on ideas.

‘‘It was amaz­ing there was this group from Gu­atemala and they tried to show us the bad side of Gu­atemala as well as the good side,’’ Glo­ria says.

‘‘From what I had seen I thought ev­ery­one from Gu­atemala was rich but there is ex­treme rich and ex­treme poor.’’

Grey Lynn res­i­dent Na’or says poverty run­ning side-by-side with ex­treme wealth was also ev­i­dent in their own stay.

‘‘It was quite cov­ered up but where we stayed at a small com­pound it was right op­po­site this re­ally big slum,’’ he says.

‘‘It was quite shock­ing ac­tu­ally be­cause you go from lux­ury to this com­plete slum, there’s a lot of wealth and a lot of poverty.’’

This year’s camp theme was hu­man rights, some­thing they both feel pas­sion­ate about. But they were faced with sur­pris­ing rev­e­la­tions from other groups.

Glo­ria says: ‘‘A few of the del­e­ga­tions were quite ho­mo­pho­bic and some of the del­e­ga­tions didn’t take poverty as se­ri­ously as oth­ers.

‘‘It was the first time I was fully faced with peo­ple who were out­right against things so I re­ally learned a lot from that. I think we ac­tu­ally made them think a bit.’’

CISV chap­ter leader Tracey Cumin says the change she sees in the young lead­ers through­out the three-week ex­pe­ri­ence is in­spir­ing.

The Grey Lynn res­i­dent hopes they will be able to ap­ply the lead­er­ship skills they learn to their ev­ery­day lives.

‘‘When kids come back they re­ally do put ev­ery­thing they learn into ac­tion and we find many of them go on to be­come lead­ers at school and in other ar­eas of their life,’’ Ms Cumin says.

Photo: JESS LEE

Mak­ing change: Na’or Ber­man and Glo­ria McNutt-Strawhan at­tended an in­ter­na­tional camp in Mex­ico de­signed to cre­ate un­der­stand­ing be­tween cul­tures.

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