"Soy perseverante. Levanto mi voz." (I am perseverant. I raise my voice.)
- Vocal Empowerment Training Song
Through the Give Her A Voice program, Starfish aims to prepare our staff and students to use their empowered voices in a wide variety of settings. In June 2015, we welcomed Dr. Beth Osnes, and Chelsea Hackett, PhD candidate, to facilitate a five-day vocal empowerment training for our staff at our main office in Panajachel, Guatemala. Through a variety of theatre exercises and facilitated conversations, Starfish mentors practiced skills such as understanding and managing emotions, effective facilitation, and public speaking-all with the aim of teaching these skills to Starfish Girl Pioneers.
For five years, Beth and Chelsea have been working with Starfish to ensure that our Girl Pioneers have the necessary tools to exercise their empowered voices. Through a curriculum that is taught during Starfish's weekly mentoring sessions, Girl Pioneers use a variety of songs and activities to practice a wide range of skills and build self-confidence. In a country where women are not frequently encouraged to voice their opinions, ask questions, or take on leadership positions, this is often the first opportunity Girl Pioneers or staff members have to speak for themselves.
When asked about the value of the vocal empowerment training, Jeronima, a former Starfish Girl Pioneer and current mentor, stated, "These activities will be useful not only for the Girl Pioneers in my mentoring group, but also for my own professional development. Thank you for the opportunity to participate."
Throughout this month's training, Beth and Chelsea facilitated a number of activities to make sure mentors feel comfortable teaching vocal empowerment skills throughout the rest of the year. One activity, a "mask workshop," allowed participants to practice communicating and managing their emotions in different public and private spaces.
On the final day, Starfish developed, promoted, and presented its first-ever "Impact Award" to recognize positive business practices in Panajachel by awarding an organization that places women in leadership roles. This year's recipient was Banrural, a Guatemalan bank that focuses on promoting community development in rural areas and has multiple women in positions of leadership. Starfish staff members joyfully chanted several vocal empowerment songs as they marched down the streets of Panajachel to meet at Banrural.
We are grateful to have dedicated partners like Beth and Chelsea to help us to innovate and adapt our vocal empowerment program. With their ongoing efforts and your support, we will continue to support our Girl Pioneers as they raise their collective voices and become the next generation of leaders.
Starfish staff and students parade through the streets of Panajachel before presenting their first Impact Award to Banrural.
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