ARTing for Social Change

Mariangel Garcia, 2013 Venezuelan Youth Ambassador

Being a Youth Ambassador is a life-changing experience. I learned a lot and left motivated to show the world that I am a leader and make a positive impact on society and change peoples’ lives. It’s a big responsibility to represent your country and a great organization – Partners of the Americas. But in the three weeks I spent in DC and Tennessee, I felt like my life stopped and I was living in a dream.

After returning from the United States, I volunteered with a number of different organizations, including a foundation that supports women with breast cancer and groups that help low- resource children and families.

As a Youth Ambassador, you’re required to implement a community service project when you return home. As I was thinking about what my own project would be about, I knew that I wanted to work on something that reflected my interests. I've always felt passionate about photography, – it’s a beautiful art and allows you to be very creative – so I decided I wanted to implement an art project! I ultimately decided the project should not be photography-focused because it would be too hard to work with children.

So now I had the first pieces of what I wanted to do, a project related to art and children, but it had to make a difference. The project, I decided, could be an opportunity to teach elementary school children important values like respect, love, compassion, and friendship – values that are unfortunately uncommon in Venezuelan society.

In order to organize my ideas and, goals, I talked to my friend Emma Chavier, who is currently studying Journalism, and we exchanged many ideas and talked to another friend who created the logo for our project. Then, we got in touch with my mentor from the Youth Ambassadors group, Professor Fanny Sequera.

Thus, my project, named "ARTing" with "ART" Art in English and "ing", the famous gerund of that language, was born. Emma, Fanny, and I were joined by one more Youth Ambassador -- Maria Gabriela Torrealba, an Engineering student at Lara State – and we each shared the desire to make ARTing a successful project. One of the best parts of starting a new project is thinking of ideas and organizing them. Of course there were challenges, which included lack of volunteers, sponsors, resources, places to develop the project, prices, time, and endless worries, but we were able to maintain our initial enthusiasm.

After several meetings, we finally got the opportunity to develop our project in the "Casa Hogar Immaculate Conception", which is also the "Chiquilladas" School. Shortly after, our project launched!

For two days, we brought together more than 50 children aged 8 to 12 years old to participate in educational activities, paint, play games, read stories, discuss important issues and share food. Even though we were a small team, the result was great. I think that after our pilot activities we can find sponsors and more volunteers.


One of the characteristics of those children that impressed me the most was that even though they did not have many material things they still shared what they had. Most importantly, they had fun while learning important values – that's what made it worthwhile.

Currently, we're planning our second phase of the project inviting volunteers and collecting necessary resources and school supplies.

We are the only active project in Barquisimeto, Lara State and we want to invite all the Youth Ambassadors from our city to join us and start new projects. If we support each other, we can create positive changes in our city and spread the word about it.