The Vermont Intercultural Dialogue & Encounters Initiative:
Building Global Links for Youth Empowerment
About the Initiative: Introduction and History

Encuentro 2000: International Youth Institute on Social Justice


1999 Institute: A Brief Description

Parents, Teachers and Students for Social Responsibility (PTSSR)

John Dewey Project on Progressive Education: Home Page



About the Initiative: Introduction and History
The John Dewey Project in partnership with the Montpelier based nonprofit organization, Parents, Teachers and Students for Social Responsibility (PTSSR) and the Center for Intercultural Dialogues and Encounters (CIED) in Oaxaca, Mexico will sponsor an International Youth Institute on Social Justice in Oaxaca, Mexico this summer, Aug. 5-16 2000.

The Institute expands and enriches an on-going John Dewey Project initiative on student-learning through community-based projects and service-learning.  In this initiative, the Dewey Project has been working in partnership with school groups and community-based nonprofit organizations to promote youth and community action research projects and service-learning for the development of active citizenship.  The Oaxacan International Youth Institute adds an important cross-cultural and international dimension to the work ahead.

The Youth Institute in Oaxaca builds on an on-going cross-cultural research and learning initiative coordinated by the John Dewey Project in partnership with the Center for Intercultural Encounters and Dialogue (CIED) in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The director of the CIED, Gustavo Esteva, is a leading Latin American intellectual and has lectured at UVM twice in the past three years and sponsored a visit to Vermont by two Oaxacan youth leaders during late fall of 1998.  Also, for the past five years Esteva has been a guest lecturer and facilitator of community visits in Oaxaca during UVM faculty led courses.  One course has been offered continuously since January of 1996. "Community, Culture and Education in Oaxaca" is an interdisciplinary course offered jointly by the Departments of Education, Anthropology, and Community Development and Applied Economics. A second course, "Art, Culture, and Education of Oaxaca, Mexico", has been offered twice. It will not be offered in 2000 but it will be offered in the future. The course,  taught by David Conrad, co-director of the UVM Center for World Education, was aimed at pre-service and in-service teachers. The Center maintains a collection of student projects from the Oaxaca course and resource materials on Mexico for teachers.


Much of the information and many of the feelings that Americans (and perhaps Europeans also) have for Spanish speaking peoples in the Americas -- both within the United States and in the neighboring nations to the south -- centers around negative social and economic issues and images. Some of the misconceptions and stereotypes that the Institute will address include the loss of jobs to cheap labor "south of the border," the questions of illegal immigration, teaching other languages in schools, drains on social services by immigrants, the drug trade, crime and other forms of bias and racism that plagues public discourse on these critical issues.  Today's youth need to have ways to fully engage in this public discourse, both as youth, and as young adults who will soon be voting, hold jobs, and be involved in public debates on the future of our country.

It is our philosophy that small investments in direct dialogue and experience in multicultural settings will provide a secure base for youth to have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to confront these and other key questions that are present in their lives now and in the future. Based on the success of this program, interim institutes may be held over the Internet. For information of the summer 2000 Institute click here:  Encuentro.

The institute is designed to help young people acquire knowledge and responsibility for constructive social interaction and problem solving. This begins with the quality of learning process and community building at the institute itself, where youth interact with professional educators and other adults and youth who support the institute's mission and provide knowledge and skills for the workshops and related activities.

Furthermore, the Institute  provides participants with experiences and insights that will challenge and displace many of the prevailing images and prejudices about Latin and Native cultures to the South.  Additionally, the lasting friendships and network building components of the institute are vital.

We view this work in terms of three major and interrelated outcome components:

(1) the immediate impact that the program in-and-of-itself has on the individuals (youth and adults) who participate -- an impact that can be documented at the end of the week's activities through both group and individual self assessment and sharing activities. This component of the assessment/outcomes process would be twofold: (a) related to what has been learned and discovered relative to information, understanding and attitudes pertaining to the content of the Institute, and (b) how this experience has impacted on one's own personal sense of identity (self definition and self worth) -- how has this experience changed me and the "story" that I hold about myself.

(2) The second outcome area (closely related to the first) would be the nature and extent of networking that evolves from the Institute.  Youth and Adult Advisors/Teachers will be challenged to develop ongoing communication and collaboration.  For example, setting up the means for ongoing communication via e-mail, the mails, both for continuing contacts between individuals, and also for the group in terms of planning future activities, institutes, etc., will be a goal.

(3) Initiating and following through on projects and activities in schools and communities with possible youth/teacher exchanges and visits  For example, based on the model of the Youth in Oaxaca who are repopulating the countryside with quail and other wildlife, some NYC and Vermont youth might want to develop similar projects.  The NYC youth might want to model a community-based recycling program based on the youth initiative they see in the city of Oaxaca.  Teachers in Vermont may want to build on the base established last year when teachers left a set of digital cameras behind for use by youth and educators in Oaxaca to send visual images over the internet.

For information of the Summer 2000 institute click here:  Encuentro.

For  Overview of Activities for Encuentro 2000 click here: Overview


International Youth Institute - 1999: A Brief Description
In the summer of 1999 the International Youth Institute on Social Justice was organized by the John Dewey Project; the Montpelier based nonprofit organization; Parents, Teachers and Students for Social Responsibility (PTSSR); and the Center for Intercultural Encounters and Dialogue (CIED) in Oaxaca.  Gustavo Teran of the John Dewey Project and Glen Hawkes of PTSSR organized and coordinated the Institute.  Supporting organizations included, the United Nations sponsored program "Educating Cities, South America" based in Argentina, and Episcopal Services of New York. The Institute took place in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico from July 10 to July 18. The purpose of the Institute was to provide youth an opportunity to share perspectives on important issues such as environmental health, economic and political justice and democratic action and to learn and practice skills for global citizenship. Students  worked with Oaxacan youth on two specific projects, which are part of the Oaxacan youth's on-going work. The projects include environmental education and protection and cultural affirmation and preservation through action research. Concrete activities promoted sharing of ideas, skills and knowledge and a sense of community among the participants. This experiential based program also served to raise questions about identity, culture, and responsible citizenship. Facilitators  helped youth communicate across cultural differences and reflect on the meaning of pluralism in democratic societies.

For 10 days during July 1999, some 20-30 teens from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds from the Americas,  worked with an international cadre of educators in collaboration with educators and community activists, including youth, based in both rural and urban settings in the city and the province of Oaxaca, Mexico. The course in Oaxaca had already established continuing links between high school teachers in Vermont and Oaxaca, who have established a web page for continuing cultural exchange, and speakers and students from Oaxaca have visited Vermont as a result of this program. At least 10-15 students from Vermont will join students from Episcopal Social Services in New York City (who participated in last year's Holocaust Studies Institute) and students from Argentina (who have been involved with other PTSSR institutes) with youth working on a variety of urban and rural projects in Oaxaca.

This Institute provided an intensive week-long experiential education program for youth ages 15 - 21 from the USA and abroad. The youth participating from Vermont would include students from both urban and rural areas, and we will work to provide scholarships to ensure the inclusion of at least several students from the Abenaki nation. The program will include activities with and about indigenous peoples, human rights, international relations, and will have a specific focus on active and collaborative youth work in each of the participating countries, which can make a difference in the lives of youth at home and abroad. The Institute was organized to establish continuing learning and exchange networks between the youth and educators who were involved.

Saturday, July 10
- Arrivals
Thursday July 15
-Field trip to Guelatao (Forested area in the mountains and home of Benito Juarez).
-Workshop; Local use of communication technologies: video, music. Local cultural youth group will   demonstrate their projects.
-Tour of community; Video presentation by various youth groups
Sunday, July 11
-Welcoming Ceremony
-Lecture/discussion : Current situation in Mexico and the world.  Dialogue between cultures.
-Group Projects: youths work in groups on some type of alternative technology project.
-Lecture/discussion: Perspectives and status of youth.  Radical critique of technology in education.
-Cultural Event
Friday, July 16
-Team Project work
-Workshop: "The Gift of Work with One's Hands". Artisans demonstrate their work (wood carving, pottery, weaving, etc.). Hands-on practice by youth of some demonstrated techniques.
-Workshop: Alicia Cabezudo from Argentina will lead this session
-Cultural Event
Monday July 12:
-Project team work
-Field trip to Zapotec pyramids of Monte Alban
-Visit to urban youth organization in Oaxaca
-Discussion- youth issues in the city
-Cultural event - music with urban youth
Saturday July 17
-Field trip to village, Santana del Valle
-Tour of community and collection of plants used as dyes in weavings
-Demonstration by local weavers; Visit community museum
-Free afternoon in downtown Oaxaca.
Tuesday July 13
-Work on projects
-Workshop: "The Gift of Healing".  Discussion on notions of health (conventional and alternative).  Practical application of healing techniques with healers (traditional medicine men and women).
-Workshop: "The Gift of the Earth". Conversation with local campesinos (farmers).  The future of rural life in Mexico.
-Cultural event
Sunday July 18
-Finish team projects
-Workshop: Conviviality, Human Rights and Social Justice
-Closing ceremony
-Fiesta (Party)!
Wednesday July 14
-Team project work
-Horseback to local natural area.  Hands-on projects in the field (reforestation, release of quail, etc.).
-Workshop/Discussion - Elimination of Inequalities and definition of the "good life", education and work.
-Cultural Event
Monday July 19 Home

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