SERES — Education for Sustainable Development, Guatemala
SERES, a movement started seven years ago in Guatemala and El Salvador by Australian engineer and passionate change maker, Corrina Grace, has been awarded the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development.
Corrina and SERES leadership facilitator, Abigail Quic, were invited to Paris to receive the prize on behalf of over 2,000 youth and young adults between 15 and 25. These youth have been involved in SERES’ new approach to education and leadership, an approach that acknowledges our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.
The methodology plants the seeds for life-long learning and provides the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors to help participants become more informed, engaged and empathetic members of society. SERES is living the words of Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO: “The risks and opportunities that we face call for a paradigm shift that can only be embedded in our societies through leadership and learning.”
SERES programs include youth congresses, Congresos de Juventud Liderando por la Pachamama, with 30 potential youth leaders in local communities throughout Guatemala and El Salvador coming together for a three-day congress, facilitated by their peers who have become certified SERES trainers.
During these three days, participants have a dynamic hands on/hearts on experience where they learn more about the dire state of our planet and climate change, both globally and locally. They explore what it means to be a leader, what good leaders do and how they might become one in their communities.
By the end of the congress, priorities have been chosen and action plans written that are shared in a public forum where not only the message of the plight we are facing, but of the understanding that we can lead through it to building more sustainable and peaceful communities is declared. “Si, podemos!” For example, five communities in El Salvador that have pledged to become totally plastic free communities by 2018 and they have begun.
SERES programs this year have included 20 congresses, four workshops for youth facilitators using transformative leadership practices, three workshops on methods of sustainable living, and a week-long training with over 80 participants to increase their skill sets to embrace the SERES’ mission of “providing empowering opportunities for youth to lead a just and sustainable world.”
SERES is currently working in a partnership with the sustainable department of the University of California, Irvine to offer a similar Education for Sustainable Development program for its students. In a recent survey, 100 percent of the participants identified the program as being “essential to their educational experience at UC Irvine,” highlighting the importance of this shift in education.
SERES is now developing a center in Guatemala that will serve as a training ground, a living lab, intellectual hub and meeting place for cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary collaboration among local leadership, civil society, development practitioners, researchers, international institutions, students and the philanthropic community. This center is home for what they are naming as a “communiverisity.”
To learn more about SERES, visit www.seres.org and the SERES Facebook page, Jóvenes Líderes de
Latinoamérica or follow on Twitter