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