October 2021 AMIGOS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update
Community update regarding progress toward our goals to further diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at AMIGOS
At a recent meeting, we asked AMIGOS staff to share why diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives were important to them.
Elizabeth said she wants to work in “an environment where we all recognize everyone’s value regardless of their identity.”
Lily believes it is critical that “all students who join AMIGOS feel welcome and a part of the organization.”
According to Sara, “in advancing our DEI work, there is no question that we become a stronger and more resilient organization at all levels. We each hold a responsibility in this effort and are challenged to learn and grow, not only as colleagues, but as human beings.”
The vision of AMIGOS is a world where all people are lifelong leaders sharing responsibility for our global community. To realize this vision, we must continually work to eliminate barriers to representation and inclusion within our organization and in our programs.
Today, we are providing an update in three areas: the AMIGOS core curriculum, our internal DEI roadmap, and program innovation.
Prior to this summer’s in-person programming, our team worked with equity-centered global and experiential educational consultant Jackie Broussard to identify gaps in our curriculum, specifically around diversity, equity, and inclusion modules. As a result, we added the following new activities:
- Individual Action & Allyship: Volunteers come to understand the role of individual action and allyship in social change by being introduced to examples and identifying ways to ally with others for social change in their communities.
- Collective Action: Volunteers learn collective action and the pivotal role that young people have to play in making social change by examining different methods of social change and how young people have shown up in recent social movements.
- Privilege: Volunteers understand the concept of privilege and can recognize their own privilege and the relationship between power, privilege, and injustice.
- Race: Volunteers explore the concept of race, racism, and whiteness and how racism functions at both a systemic and an interpersonal level. Volunteers also observe how race intersects with power and privilege through reading, reflection, journaling, and discussion.
- Breaking Through the Binary: Volunteers are introduced to the spectrum of gender and identity using the Genderbread Person as a tool. Space is created to talk about pronouns and let the group know which pronouns they use.
- Identity: Volunteers begin to reflect on their social identities and the dynamic roles that race/ethnicity, gender, nationality, and socioeconomic status play in shaping their perspectives and their relationships within communities by getting up and moving! In this activity, volunteers respond to prompts by moving to a poster that represents different aspects of identity.
Here is what students from this summer said about their experiences:
“I learned more about my own identity and privileges, core values, and how to interact with others in a mutually-beneficial way.”
– Olivia, Nicaragua
“My favorite part of my AMIGOS project was learning and growing with 18 other students. What I loved about my group was how diverse we all were. It was amazing to share a life-changing project and experience with students from such different backgrounds and stories.”
– Cellestine, Nicaragua
“I got to learn more about the opinions and views of people from different places and ethnic backgrounds through the discussions and lessons that we did, which I really appreciated.”
– Amukta, Ecuador
“Aprendí a escuchar y respetar las opiniones de los demás, también a dar un comentario para que la persona mejore y también respetar a esos comentarios.”
– Joel, Nicaragua
Iterating and looking ahead
We are currently in the process of evaluating our new curriculum modules and iterating for future programs based on feedback from students and staff. The curriculum topics were new to some students, but not to all. We are exploring ways to involve students who are already well-versed in these topics as peer leaders during certain activities. Next year, we also plan to ensure a comprehensive training for staff on facilitating the curriculum modules. Additionally, much of the new curriculum is U.S.-centric, so we are assessing how to address this in future programs.
AMIGOS DEI Road Map
Last year, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Work Group administered a survey to staff about our assessment of DEI at AMIGOS, perspectives, and priorities and began working with Zahida Sherman from Z Crown Consulting to create organizational DEI goals. This year, the AMIGOS senior management team and DEI Work Group collaboratively developed a roadmap with each department to identify ways to reach our collective DEI goals.
Examples of some of the tasks that go into achieving these goals are:
- conducting yearly DEI workshops with staff and stakeholders,
- formalizing and expanding inclusion of Latin American youth in all programs,
- leveraging financial assistance funding to recruit more youth from under-resourced communities, and
- improving the accessibility of the website and application.
Program Innovation: Social Impact Accelerator
This fall, we are running our first-ever virtual program for recent AMIGOS alumni, the Social Impact Accelerator. During this free, bilingual program, students from across the Americas will come together in online modules and live workshops. Students will bring their ideas to reality by implementing a service project in their own community. This program will incorporate DEI curriculum and Equity-Centered Community Design into the design thinking process.
Thank you for your interest as we continue to further diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at AMIGOS. We look forward to sharing our next update in 2022.
The AMIGOS Staff Team