Mano en Mano and Operation Breaking Stereotypes Bring Youth Together
At Mano en Mano, we strive to provide a space where conversation and learning can happen. This Fall, we’ve partnered with facilitator Connie Carter of Orono, Maine, to offer a program called Operation Breaking Stereotypes (OBS) which has been meeting on a monthly basis at Mano en Mano offices. The goal of OBS is to bring youth together to get to know each other, and to break stereotypes that they have about one another, creating understanding and appreciation of difference along the way through a variety of teambuilding activities and discussions.
Through staff member Ana Blagojevic’s role working with students in schools, and from conversations with community youth, it seemed like there was a need to open up a conversation between Hispanic and non-Hispanic high school students, through a common project that worked on differences and identity. Through monthly meetings, led by facilitator Connie Carter, the end result and hope is that youth will later share this journey and its process with future educators at the University of Maine. The first group meeting discussed stereotypes, barriers to group work, and how everyone is affected working together.
In the next month, Connie planned a scavenger hunt where students worked in groups to work out clues hidden around the town of Milbridge. In following meetings, students have written poems in groups about where they are from, read short stories in English and Spanish, have talked about living in multiple worlds, and participated in team building games.
“Having done Operation Breaking Stereotypes myself when I was in high school, it’s so exciting to bring this to Milbridge,” says Ana. “I think this can have a lasting impact in the way youth think about themselves and in the greater community. I’m really excited that this is happening here and to be working with such a wonderful group of students.”
Students so far have been excited about the project too, and have participated with enthusiasm. It’s also been an opportunity for Mano en Mano to open up its doors to some youth who have never been to our offices before. We hope to continue the program into the spring.
One of the poems written during OBS is displayed below.
Five Minute Poem (courtesy of Beverly Daniel Tatum)
We are from (Familiar sights, sounds, or smells of your home or neighborhood) The smell of mud flats El olor del la planada de lodo Heat from the sun La calor del 32″ TV’s – Samsung Bravio Friendly Amigables
We are from (Familiar Foods) Shrimp Camaron Gooey chocolate chip cookies in my stomach Galleta de chocolate en me estomago Fish chowder Caldo de pescado Red velvet cake – mmmmm so delicious Pastel rojo – mmmm delicioso
We are from (Family Sayings) Be careful Ten cuidado Clean the house Limpia la casa Barbara and Ma Our fathers’ swears Barbara and Ma Maldiciones de nuestros padres If you believe, you can Si tu crees, tu puedes
We are from (Friends) Lauren, Austin, Wendy, Josh Thania, Brandon Freshmen and seniors Coonie y Oneida