Embracing collaboration as currency

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: September 19th, 2017

Mastercard Foundation Scholar Juan Bol (’17, Belize) represented EARTH University and his social entrepreneurship project PODER (“POWER” in Spanish) at an inaugural One Young World assembly for Caribbean countries.

Held in Trinidad and Tobago August 25-26, the event attracted more than 200 youth ambassadors from five countries – Belize, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and the USA – to discuss subjects such as climate change, education, social responsibility and entrepreneurship.

Juan became a youth ambassador after applying and being accepted to One Young World’s global gathering in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2015. There, PODER was selected to receive a prize from The Resolution Project.

What is the purpose of the Caribbean gathering?
The idea is to recruit more organizational ambassadors and carry out additional events. There is also a desire to turn the gathering into an annual event – alternating between Caribbean host countries – and using their combined strength to start their own projects while building a change-making network.

What is Juan’s project PODER about?
PODER aims to inspire transformative leadership through the creation of a space for positive dialogue among young Belizeans. It offers educational opportunities and technical workshops that provide professional training while also opening the door for them to participate in recommendation making about their country’s development. At the start of 2016, Juan received a $3,000 prize, which he has used to supply teaching materials and sports equipment to area schools, along with funding dance classes for local kids and buying parts to build a solar lamp.

Presently, Juan is working to register PODER as an NGO in Belize to secure more financing.

You can read more about PODER here.

What did Juan learn at the Caribbean gathering of One Young World?
“I had two principal takeaways from the event. The first is that contacts are very important, and the second is that collaboration is a new currency – lending a hand and exchanging knowledge are the new ways to help others globally.

Aside from that, one of my priorities is putting Caribbean countries on the map, so to speak. I want people in the region to realize that they can contribute globally. I want to put more young people in touch with agriculture and alter the perception that it’s a job only for people without resources.”

Juan’s advice for young people who have a big idea but don’t know what to do with it:
“If you have an idea, put it on paper and present it. Sometimes it’ll work, other times it won’t. Many people get discouraged after one negative response. In my case, I always receive messages saying ‘Many thanks, but…’, and I already know what they’re going to say, but among all those messages, there’s always someone interested in helping you.” 

The Mastercard Foundation Scholar Juan Bol ('17, Belize) at the OYWTT 2017. Photo: Facebook, Marc Alain Boucicault.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholar Juan Bol (’17, Belize) at the OYWTT 2017. Photo: Facebook, Marc Alain Boucicault.