MLI recently initiated a Leadership Development program called Peace Makers and Problem Solvers (PMPS). Through this program, MLI equips educators with tools and resources to implement a curriculum in their classrooms that focuses on leadership development and problem solving skills, and connects students in North America with students in conflict-affected countries so young people can work together to identify humanitarian issues and collaborate on a solution. Through PMPS, young leaders learn to identify a purpose for a humanitarian project, explore possible options, debate the issues from different perspectives, determine how to effectively utilize resources, and set goals to establish a course of action for the project. Students are encouraged to think critically about the world around them and gain real-life experience in conversing and brainstorming solutions to problems with peers in countries like Colombia.
In its inaugural year, MLI paired a school in Poolesville, MD with a school in Chigorodó, Colombia. The 24 youth participating in PMPS met on Skype and Google Hangouts twice a month during the school year, and once a month during the summer, in addition to regular meetings with a trained PMPS teacher who is guiding them through the structured leadership development curriculum. The students have become great friends, practicing their English and Spanish on a daily basis as they chat on WhatsApp and learn about each other’s cultures. Through this process, the students have jointly chosen to focus on preventing bullying and violence among younger youth in both Colombia and the U.S., as it is an issue that affects children in both communities, and are currently building their project plans so they can implement them in the fall.
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