Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eight GR8 Years and Stronger than Ever

An anniversary is a beautiful thing. It gives everyone a chance to celebrate the length and growth of a relationship. With each year there is more to celebrate there are new triumphs and  developments to look back on and new goals to look forward to meeting. OYE is proud to celebrate its eighth year of serving El Progreso youth.

The eighth anniversary was celebrated this past week with an Open House, a flashmob in the park, a flashmob and games at the mall, prizes for the scholarship students, a soccer game, and a dance. The event brought together OYE supporters and scholars, some of whom have been with OYE since its founding years!

If you ask the OYE students how the anniversary went, they will tell you that there wasn´t a dull moment. Each event was a proud opportunity for the OYE scholars to demonstrate what they do here and enjoy the company of their friends.

OYE opened its doors and invited local high school students and teachers to tour the facility. Each project presented itself and its work during the tour, and it was an exciting opportunity to display the students hard work to their peers and teachers. OYE hopes that the open house will attract more and new students to OYE in the future.

If you have ever been to the OYE office you will know that one thing has not change in the last eight years: OYE students have a lot of energy and love to dance. We took that energy to the street. OYE set up a booth in Parque Mercedes and displayed our magazine, art, and photos, while the scholars and their friends put on a show. Yarli, the radio coordinator, choreographed a dance that nearly 20 students participated in taking over the entire park and catching everyone's eye. While some danced, other youth stood on the bank behind holding signs that promoted opportunities for youth and an end to violence.

In the afternoon, the OYE family retired to a local football field where they hosted a friendly match. The scholarship students played among themselves, friends, and neighbors at the field. No matter the score because everyone won!

As Saturday wind to a close, the family reunited to cut the cake, hand out prizes, and get a little groovy. Thats right the family got together for a celebration OYE style back at the office. The festivities started when we fired up the 8 year anniversary candle-sparks flew. After sharing the cake we road the sugar-high the rest of the night. Each project recognized its participants with the best participation or leadership. The recognized scholars were as follows:

Heily Aguilar
Jesus Puerto

Kelyn Diaz
Claudia Pavon

Victor Suazo
Stephanie Matute
Oscar Osorio

Sara Medrano
Arnold Velasquez
Gisel Galindo

Neris Avia
Ever Canales

Thank you scholars for your hard work and dedication over the last year!

The awards ceremony and cake wrapped up, as an OYE event should, with dancing. The scholarship students reminded me just exactly how bad at dancing I am and a good time was had by all.

Sunday, OYE was back at it. In the mall this time the OYE students set their booths up with art and magazines as well as other games. They enjoyed themselves playing board games and wii, while promoting OYE and celebrating the anniversary in the mall. The flashmob entertained the food court and advocated on behalf of youth and expression with their signs.

All in all, it was a GR8! anniversary! The OYE family came together to celebrate its memories, and just like the organization the anniversary grew. This year OYE involved more people than ever and looks forward to an even bigger closer family next year. Thanks for reading,and, most of all, thanks for supporting OYE.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Look Where He is Today - Amer Perez

Amer Perez is a disarming young man. I first met hi in 2009, when I first volunteered at OYE. He was charming, curious, and perhaps a bit shy, but a natural leader. Among other OYE scholars, Amer was looked up to. He had an attitude that embodied cool, but in his case his cool was a rare breed. He was aloof or better than others, he was inquisitive and inclusive.

When I first met Amer, he caught my attention for two reasons. First and foremost he came over and introduced himself and inquired as to who and how I was, and secondly he did it in English. Mind you, at the time his English wasn't perfect. He stood out, and not just for his caring nature but for his passion. Amer has probably been studying English for less time than I have been learning Spanish, something that I consider a bit of a hobby as well as a passion. However, in comparison to me Amer is an English speaking prodigy.

Many Honduran students, including various OYE scholars, study English in high school and often it is a requirement. However, very few students truly achieve a conversational level. Amer on the other hand took advantage of the added financial assistance of an OYE beca to attend, not only public high school, but also participate in private English classes.

Last year Amer's family came across health issues and hard financial times. Confronted by depleting economic resources Amer was forced to make a tough choice. After graduating high school he sought a job to support his family when his mother underwent surgery and recovery. Equipped with the experiences and training gained through OYE and his language skills, Amer found a job in the extremely tough job market of Honduras. He started his career as a clerk at a local hotel that valued him for his demonstrated responsibility and ability to speak English. Nearly a year later Amer is still a valued member of the staff at Casa Blanca Hotel in El Progreso.

I run into Amer often and enjoy catching up with him. In him I see a natural leader, a success story that is still being written. It is hard working with youth, and it is even harder working with at-risk families. We want OYE to be the perfect solution to tough socio-economic situations, but if the fix were so easy there wouldn't be a problem. Talking to Amer, someone two years ago I was sure would have continued directly on to college, is a reminder that development is not a linear process. Luckily in the case of Amer, its always a pleasant reminder.

Amer is the first to point out what OYE gave him-direction. He states that OYE has helped and continues to help him organize his life. Did Amer take a mean stroke of bad luck that prevented him from continuing his studies at the University level? Yes. Is this an ideal situation? No. But in the scheme of things Amer is a success story. After finding a job at Hotel Casa Blanca Amer didn't rest. He wasn't complacent. Amer set goals and continued working hard. He took advantage of his position to polish his language skills and today he has found employment at KM2 Solutions, an OYE supporter and bilingual contact center.


Follow the link above to view KM2's blog by Walter Molinari