Elena Chernock (Creative Expression Program Coordinator, January 2012-Present) My name is Elena Chernock and I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College in 2005 with a degree in Visual and Media Arts. My background is in theater, film, photography, and writing. Following graduation, I worked in the film and television industry for 5 1/2 years in Los Angeles, CA as an Assistant Editor, Makeup Artist, Production Assistant, and Assistant Director. While looking for a more rewarding project to be a part of, I reconnected with an acquaintance and peer from Boston, who had recently founded a free educational initiative in Nicaragua. After fundraising for and initiating their first Creative Arts Workshop in January 2010 and seeing how receptive the students were to new art forms, I knew it was only a matter of time before my path in life would change dramatically. I returned to Los Angeles and soon after packed up all my things and headed to Italy where I trained how to use theater to teach language competency. I then returned to Nicaragua as the Director of Artistic Programming in January 2011 where I focused on developing programming and workshops that allowed our students a safe place for expression and creative growth. Now, January 2012 begins a new chapter for me at Safe Passage where I hope to continue to use my knowledge and experience in the creative arts and art education to enhance the lives of children who are not given access to these outlets in their own communities.
Fredy Godoy(Music Teacher, ECI Instructor, March 2012-Present) Hola a todos y todas, mi nombre es Fredy Godoy y soy el nuevo profesor de música en el departamento de Expresión Creativa. Les voy a contar un poco de mi experiencia y los objetivos que quiero cumplir acá en Camino Seguro. Mi experiencia, que puedo decir… a los 15 años me intereso aprender a tocar guitarra y pues me inscribí en una academia de música para poder aprender sobre este hermoso instrumento, durante los siguientes años estuve en diferentes bandas musicales, tocando bajo o guitarra, los géneros musicales que he tocado en el transcurso de mi “vida musical” desde pop, reggae y metal, y ahora estoy comenzando con el blues. Mis objetivos con los participantes de Camino Seguro. Que todos los participantes de las clases de música puedan y sepan que hay diferentes maneras de poder expresar sus sentimientos y una de esas maneras es a través de la música y las artes. En mi trabajo como psicólogo clínico/social he concluido que la mayoría de jóvenes guatemaltecos no han aprendido la manera adecuada de expresarse. Es por eso que veo tan importante la expresión artística y creativa en los jóvenes y que así puedan expresar sus sentimientos (tristezas, alegrías y enfados). En el programa de Música en Camino Seguro sea dividido en dos, una parte práctica y la otra teórica, en donde los participantes aprenderán teoría musical básica y a canalizar su energía en arte.
Sammy Dardas (Visual Arts Teacher/Program Assistant, May 2012-Present) Hello my name is Sami Dardas, I am the Art Teacher In the Creative Expressions program at Camino Seguro. I am originally from Michigan and attended school at Delta community college and The Art Institute of Chicago where I studies Art Education. Before assuming the job as the Art Teacher at Camino Seguro, I worked as a nature camp councilor at Chippewa Nature Center, a Native American Nature Conservatory. While living In Chicago I student taught in an art classroom in Von Humbolt Park Elementary School located in an urban, mostly latino neighborhood. I am interested in community based artwork and facilitation liberal creativity in youth, especially as a means of release or self expression. At Camino Seguro, with older students in morning classes, I have individual or small group classes where my students and I focus on technique, and developing personal style. We have spent time looking into Modern, Contemporary and Postmodern Art, especially as in relates to street art . In Afternoon classes,with younger students our program focuses heavily on creativity as it stems from values. While the activity depends on the grade level of the class, lesson plans involve an overview of a specific value, what it means, and how we can use it in our own lives, then a related art project, and a recap of what we have created that day and why.
Marlon Flores (Music Teacher January 2013-Present, Assistant Guitar Teacher, July 2012-January 2013)
Juan Carlos Murga (Guitar Teacher, March 2010 – Present)
Melissa Torrente (Visual Arts Teacher, ECI Instructor, March 2012-July 2012)
Agrin Safari (Dance Teacher/Creative Arts Instructor, January 2012-May 2012) My name is Agrin Safari, I am 26 years old and originally from Iran. In 1992, I moved to Denmark with my parents and was given opportunities that not many children have living in third world countries. I graduated from College in the Spring of 2011 and decided that before starting a career in Human Resource Management, I would be part of a more rewarding project and do some volunteer work. I first came to Safe Passage in the fall of 2011 as a classroom volunteer and got the opportunity to work with talented students and since then I have been inspired to get more involved with art. My background in dancing led me to apply for the position as the dance teacher and now we are creating a dance class for the students which will help the students express themselves through movements and learn more about different dance styles.
Carlyn Wright-Eakes (Creative Expression Coordinator, September 2007-August 2008, September 2009-January 2012): My name is Carlyn Wright-Eakes, I grew up in Durham, North Carolina. I first came to Safe Passage as a volunteer in the fall of 2007. During this time I was given the opportunity to teach elective art classes and in April 2008 began a project with the students called “Las Sillas de Esperanza.” Each child chose a universal value that resonated with them (peace, respect, cooperation etc) and were given the challenge to visually express the value by painting it on a wooden chair. I realized during this project how important it is for students to have an outlet to express themselves and how powerful art can be as a vehicle to share ideas, feelings and dreams. I left Safe Passage in August 2008 inspired by my experiences and returned, after graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in Sociology, in September 2009 to run the Art Program. Since 2009, with the support of many dedicated and passionate volunteers, the program has grown to offer a safe space for creative expression to nearly 300 of Safe Passage’s students.
Mike McCarthy (Music Guru, June 2011-December 2011): My name is Mike McCarthy, I’m 26 years old, and I’m from a small town in New Hampshire. I started playing the guitar at the age of 6, studying with a bluegrass musician in my hometown. Over the last two decades the guitar has been my constant companion, always there with me through the good times and the bad. In the wake of being laid off during the economic recession, I spent six months substitute teaching in my old high school while I searched for my next full-time position, and really enjoyed it. Seeing the satisfaction I found in working with kids, my mother, a high school teacher and two-time Safe Passage Support Team leader, encouraged me to check out Safe Passage. Having spent several years of her own youth living and working in Guatemala, she assured me that it would be an adventure. Now just over a year in, I’m thrilled to see how much the music program has grown. Safe Passage now has roughly 30 guitar students ranging in age from 7 to 21, 10 piano students, and eight bi-weekly hour long music classes. The music program has various full and part time volunteers, Guatemalan and foreign. Looking forward, I am excited to welcome additional part-time volunteers, and hope to see over the next year the continued progress of guitar and piano students, and the growth of an organized curriculum for general music classes.
Juan Andres (Music Teacher, February 2011-July 2011, January 2012-March 2012)
Lindsey Schwenn (Art Teacher September 2011-January 2012)
Moriah Sterling (Voice and Piano Teacher, June 2011-October 2011)
Alex Dworkin (Art Teacher, March -August 2011): My name is Alex Dworkin and I was born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas. I attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas and graduated in 2009 with an emphasis on printmaking. In August I came to Guatemala to work with a non-profit orphanage in Rio Dulce called Casa Guatemala where I worked for six months as the volunteer coordinator. After hearing about the need for an Art Teacher at Safe Passage I came to Guatemala City and was accepted as part of the team! I now work with the Expresión Creativa Program teaching individual lessons and working with the “Art, Music and Values” classes in the afternoon.
Tristan Green (Guitar Teacher, June 2011-August 2011): My name is Tristan Green, I am 20 years old and was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I graduated a semester early from high school and volunteered at Camino Seguro for 3 months in the spring of 2009 as a teacher´s assistant. That spring I made strong relationships with the kids and Safe Passage and knew that I would be back. During the summer of 2011, I was able to return to Safe Passage and teach Guitar and English. I´ve always been passionate about music, so it was great to be able to connect something I was passionate about to my work at Camino Seguro. I had a great time teaching guitar one on one with the kids, and even got to work on song writing with some of the older students. The majority of my summer was spent working towards the community “Feria de Valores” that we put on in July, 2011 where we had all of the guitar students performing as well as an art installation and games at a local community park. It took lots of organizing but we pulled off a great event. I had to leave at the end of the summer, but I know I will be back!
Anna Van Voorhis (Guarderia Art Teacher / Program Assistant, February 2011-June 2011): From birth I have been called Anna Arscott Van Voorhis, I hail from the southeast coast of Massachusetts (not Maine), specifically a small town called Mattapoisett. I graduated from Falmouth Academy High School in June 2010, with the intention of starting at Macalester College in fall of 2011. I spent this last year living and working in Bozeman, Montana; travelling through Italy, France and Germany and working as a laboratory assistant at Marine Biological Laboratories before coming down to Safe Passage in February 2011. My roles in the art program include clutter control, teaching Individual Creative Expression (ECI) classes, starting a pilot art program in the Guarderia and assisting teaching in the Art, Music & Values classes.
Nellie Pierce (Art Program Founder / Art Teacher, 2008-2009, September 2010 – December 2010): My name is Nell Pierce and I grew up in Yarmouth, ME. I went down to Guatemala in August of 2008 to work for Safe Passage and, inspired by the students’ creativity and past volunteers’ projects, decided to focus my energy on building a sustainable Art Program. With support from staff, volunteers, and local and international artists and donors, we started up weekly classes in February of 2009. I returned to the US in August ‘09 (confidently leaving the program in the hands of Carlyn!) and attended a year of college. Invigorated by fresh ideas and energy at school and the updates of the Art Program’s progress, I came back to Guatemala from September-December of 2010. During these months I had the opportunity to work with the current Creative Expression team, the Counseling Department, and many other wonderful volunteers to run a pilot program for Individual Creative Expression and the annual art week of Summer Camp. Art has always been a crucial outlet for me, and it’s been inspiring to see it play such a strong role in the lives of students at Safe Passage. I am now back studying at Dartmouth College and hope to pursue a career in Art Education.