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The Wyoming-Goiás Chapter of Partners of the Americas hosted a YOUTH LEADERSHIP SUMMIT in Laramie November 8-9, 2008 with the support of Laramie County Community College & ACC Across Cultures Club Special Thanks to Bob Moore, Ana Maria McCormick, Rúbia Santos, Julia Gendrich at Laramie High School, Joy Surdam of LCCC/ACC and Dr. Rod Garnett of the UWYO Music Department
The Summit began at LCCC/ACC on day one, moved to Laramie High School for the second day of activities, and closed with an evening recital in the University of Wyoming Fine Arts Concert Hall

Under the direction of Dorly Piske, the Wyoming-Goiás Chapter of Partners of the Americas is committed to recognizing individuals of high school and college age in a way that cultivates youth leadership through personal development and community engagement, locally and globally. Toward this end, the chapter hosted a youth leadership summit that utilized collaborative processes and dialog as a means to connect with individual interests and activate collective vision and knowledge. Two core processes for this youth summit were World Café and Vision Mapping with facilitator Melanie Ohm of Concepts Consulting Group.
Dorly Piske introduces Partners of the Americas

Additionally, the weekend was an exploration of Brazilian culture and social enterprise. Brazilian percussionist Marcus Santos led four community drumming workshops on Saturday and Sunday. Dorly Piske created a traditional Brazilian feijoada with pão de queijo for Saturday's lunch, and on Sunday oversaw the Bio-Jewelry Project. The final event was an evening of performances by Brazilian musicians.

The Schedule:
YOUTH LEADERSHIP SUMMIT @ Laramie County Community College/ACC - Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008
10:00-12:30 World Café facilitated by Melanie Ohm
12:30-1:30 Lunch - feijoada and pão de queijo, prepared by Dorly Piske
1:30-4:00 Vision Mapping facilitated by Melanie Ohm
4:00-5:00 Bucket drumming facilitated by Marcus Santos

1:00-5:00 Afro-Brazilian Percussion Workshops facilitated by Marcus Santos
1:00-5:00 Bio-jewelry Making with Dorly Piske

Featuring Brazilian artists and a Bucket Drumming Ensemble directed by Marcus Santos
An exhibition assemblage documenting the Youth Leadership Summit events could be viewed in the lobby

Saturday was a Full Day, beginning with Youth Leadership Summit World Café in the Morning.

On entering the room for World Café, participants were invited to approach words posted on the walls, and to express their thoughts or feelings in words, images and symbols. This exercise highlights how language is both powerful and vulnerable as a means of communication - an important concept for a day of dialog.

The tables were strewn with pipe cleaners, play dough, feathers, papers and markers to encourage busy hands and creative minds - a table-top toy box. The paper table covers became a writing surface as the café progressed.

Before moving into World Café, each person was asked to write their Intention for themselves for the day on a colored index card. What did they intend to take away from this experience? They held this card until the end of the workshop as a point of focus for their participation. A couple of intentions were:

  • to connect with others, discuss, debate, ….etc.
  • to get to know some of my fellow human beings better and establish a "relationship" with them.

What is World Café?
The World Café process reawakens our deep species memory of two fundamental beliefs about human life. First, we humans want to talk together about things that matter to us… Second, as we talk together, we are able to access a greater wisdom that is found only in the collective.
Margaret Wheatley in the forward to The World Café (Juanita Brown, 2005)

The World Café process emphasizes deepening levels of inquiry to get at the concepts and issues a group most wants to explore for their organization. A variety of materials and dialog topic shifts are used to stimulate access to collective information and wisdom.

In the first step the group recognizes their critical questions. What do we most want to know by the end of our time together today? The facilitator invited the posting of questions around the topic of YOUTH LEADERSHIP, and then called for a vote to identify the four core dialog questions. The following questions were selected:

  • Question 1: How can we as individuals combat racism, ageism and sexism?
  • Question 2: Global Issue - Is it possible to have countries understand each other better?
  • Question 3: Why is it important as a leader to look more into the topics you may disagree with than the ones you agree with?
  • Question 4: What is the importance of being open to new ideas and discussion?

Once the questions were identified, they were reframed as topics, and the groups of 3-5 people moved forward through rotations of conversation, initially generating more questions on the topic.

Responses to How can we as individuals combat racism, ageism and sexism?

  • Racism, sexism, ageism hurts us all because it "otherizes" groups of people
  • by really examining our deepest beliefs
  • sometimes people have fixed ideas
  • it hurts us because we are all "one" but most people aren't aware of it
  • by being true to ourselves - by not being afraid to speak up our minds
  • recognize our own stereotypes and racism
  • purposefully travel - associate with different people - invite some for dinner
  • to communicate - to hear others' ideas

Responses to Global Issue - Is it possible to have countries understand each other better?

  • travel with kids
  • take kids to places/events - exposure to diversity
  • teach/talk to kids in other languages
  • include language in school curriculum, including sign language
  • promote travel
  • study other countries - European Higher Education Area (EHEA)
  • volunteers - community involvement
  • teaching conflict resolution in schools, businesses
  • use internet to read articles, perspectives from other countries (Google news)
  • teach diversity in the home
  • be realistic, America is a melting pot of different nationalities
  • consistency in your flexibility
  • language - understanding cultural similarities and differences by reading literature, film/movies
  • music is an international language - dance, rhythm, song

Responses to Why is it important as a leader to look more into the topics you may disagree with than the ones you agree with?

  • make opportunities as a leader to prove a safe environment to discuss disagreements
  • a leader doesn't always have answers, they always ask questions
  • actually list to different perspectives rather than just hear them
  • collaboration promotes a stronger society/culture
  • always view both sides
  • look inside and outside of the box
  • agree to disagree on subjects that may not be resolved

Responses to What is the importance of being open to new ideas and discussion?

  • "blank slate philosophy" John Locke
  • life time of learning
  • working with community helps us grow
  • if you are open minded you are free!
  • you can change yourself - these changes are the most important things in your life
  • IMPORTANT: be open to new ideas; don't be self-righteous, listen rather than argue/quarrel
  • everyone's feelings about their humanity are important

In the final round, each dialog group identified ideas and actions that arose out of the cycles of inquiry. These themes and actions were then brought to the larger group and discussed.

The group reflected on the World Café process and shared the following thoughts...

  • democratic
  • confirmation of my own beliefs
  • unity
  • comfort in small groups
  • all topics tied together
  • energizing, inspiring
  • creativity
  • the inquiry process was challenging but led to more ideas
  • the benefits of the inquiry process are finding answers in questions
  • an idea might be intimidating but you realize that everyone has something to contribute
  • can use the inquiry process in a discussion between youth and adults at work
  • can use the inquiry process when things are tense

During the last round of World Café, Dorly Piske brought in pão de queijo for a snack. This is a small cheese bread made with tapioca starch, traditional of the Central-Western region of Brazil. Later before lunch, feijoada!, Dorly shared a Brazilian regional song, by a singer from Goiás. The song was about the history and culture of Goiás - speaking of settlement and the varied peoples of the region, gold, cattle, landscape, festivals and pride - all themes familiar to the landscape and heritage of Wyoming. A video of this song, Eh, Goiás by Fernando Perillo / Chaul of Goiás is available online at
Eh ! Goiás
O ouro chegou primeiro
As vilas e os arraiais
O índio e o brasileiro
As minas e os gerais
Cerrado do pequizeiro

Eh! Goiás
Estrada de ferro veio
O gado com seus currais
Peão montado no arreio
No tempo das catedrais
Botina chiando feio
A terra do homem pardo
Nas mãos de antônio poteiro
Saudade não tem remédio
Amor não tem cativeiro.

Goiás, meu canto é brasileiro
Catira no bate pé
Folia de santos reis ( bis )

Eh ! Goiás
O mapa cortado ao meio
Divide com o tocantins
Ninguém fica com receio
Goiás de mulher bonita
Das festas de jaraguá
Do salto do itiquira
Formosa e lagoa feia
À beira do araguaia
Nas noites de lua cheia
Eh! Goiás
First arrived the gold
The villages, the encampments,
the Indian and the Brazilian
The mines and the common men
The thicket of the pequi trees

Eh! Goiás,
Came the railroad
The cattle with their corrals
The peon riding on the harness
In the time of the cathedrals
Squeaky boots
The land of the mulatto
In the hands of Antônio Poteiro
Nostalgia has no remedy
Love has no bonds

Goiás, my song is Brazilian
Catira tap dance
Merrymaking of the Holy Kings

Eh! Goiás,
The map split in half
Shares with Tocantins
Nobody is afraid
Goiás of good looking women
The festival of Jaraguá
The Itiquira Falls,
Formosa and Ugly Lake
On the banks of the Araguaia
on full moon nights.

Feijoada - a traditional Brazilian meal
Following World Café, Dorly Piske treated participants to a Brazilian feijoada, which features a traditional bean and rice dish.

After lunch participants returned for an exploration of YOUTH LEADERSHIP through Vision Mapping.

What is Vision Mapping? This collage-making workshop illustrates how the arts can create a safe space to engage ideas, values and beliefs in an exploration of self and community, identifying the intent, role and commitment of youth leadership in community action.

The arts were the earliest tools of communication, predating language as a means to answer universal questions. The act of creating a collage together highlights visual elements and ideas that represent our use of symbols as language, our cultural orientation, and our values. It is both personal and communal. Dialogue about randomly selected symbolic metaphors is part of a shared learning process that can build a sense of common purpose. This creative activity supports an egalitarian means of communication among participants.

During this process, participants discovered possibilities and tools to build a community of youth leaders in Laramie by identifying meaningful images and words (phrases) to create a visionary document that reflects collaborative intentions for bringing about new ways of living and working as individuals and as a community.

True community occurs when citizens perceive themselves as equals--when helping isn't charity, but mutual exchange.
Susan J. Ellis

Questions explored during the Youth Summit Vision Mapping:

  • What tools, resources and people provide me with information about the possibilities for youth leadership in my communities, locally and globally?
  • What is my role in defining the possibilities for youth leadership in community, locally and globally?
  • What changes do I see in myself, my family and my community through myself and other youth leaders taking a more active role in community, locally and globally?

Themes for YOUTH LEADERSHIP were identified as a result of the Vision Mapping process:
Lifetime commitment to volunteerism, hope, diversity, open-mindedness, planning, communication; conversation, visualization, examples, common ground around what we like, believe in, value, believing that youth matter and communicating it, "they can because they believe they can" Virgil, diverse small groups, "A small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has" Margaret Mead, "just do it", activity - Friday afternoon club at LCCC/ACC, Climb Wyoming group is encouraging leadership with young mother support/development, create scholarship fund/for youth exchange, opportunities for students to get experience in a variety of areas (careers), work with existing orgs in community, internships

Youth let us know how they want to be supported:
Moral support, mentors, friendships with adults, all the emotional support you need to achieve something, youth may crash if their support systems do, to be given a change to try something outside of our experience, scholarship program to enable international students to work in the community

Youth expressed their commitments to themselves:
Education, finish my GED, study English - go to university and study microbiology, to seek out resources that provide opportunities for advancement, exchange of strengths, participate in community work, as a student I am happy to assist other students with class work, to make gay marriages legal

Adult stated commitments to youth:
To listen without judgment; listen patiently, appreciate different points of view, help when possible and find other resources of assistance when not possible, to be there, to be PRESENT in the moment, to interact with youth, be part of service to youth in my areas of experience, my ultimate life goal - BE OF SERVICE, to pursue free medical insurance for all, be a better mentor for our students; be a good example, stay in touch with youth, in conversation to understand their aspirations, to support and be a resource

The Final Visual Documentation of the YOUTH LEADERSHIP SUMMIT was an assemblage incorporating the Vision Mapping Collage, images of participants in the World Café, Vision Mapping & Bucket Drumming sessions, with Brazilian açai beads from the bio-jewelry project strung across the top, and a frame of sage leaf, sage wood and pinecones representative of the Laramie environment and providing a sense of place. A special thanks is owed to Bob Moore who built the pegboard frame for the assemblage.

Right Panel

Left Panel

And showed up at Laramie High School on Sunday for 3 more sessions…

During the drumming workshops, Dorly Piske was overseeing the creation of Bio-Jewelry, a project that supports the activities of the Wyoming-Goiás Chapter of Partners of the Americas.
The Bio-Jewelry Project uses beads made from the seed of the açai plant.
An Evening of Brazilian Music Performing Artists
Tony Moreira (piano) * João Machado (violin) * Everton Marin (piano) * Larissa Paggioli (piano) * Rúbia Santos (piano) * Lucas Furtado (piano)

Bucket drumming at close of An Evening of Brazilian Music, UWYO Music Department Concert Hall on Sunday.

On Monday, Marcus Santos ( leads a dynamic workshop with faculty and students at UWYO Music Department.

About the Sponsor: Partners of the Americas is a private nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that has existed since 1964 to promote partnerships between the United Sates and Latin American/Caribbean countries. Partners links professionals, institutions and communities to promote broader citizen participation, train community leaders, mobilize hemispheric collaboration, and strengthen grassroots organizations. Partners main program areas are citizen participation, education and training, economic development, family life and culture.

Promoting Leadership, Opportunity and Understanding in the Americas

For more information contact the Wyoming-Goiás Chapter president,
Dorly Piske at

Photo Narrative provided by Melanie Ohm, Concepts Consulting Group, November 2008