Spotlight: Youth Global Changemaker Yamari Martin-Halsall

Yamari receiving her OCIC Youth Global Changemaker Award at the International Development Week event hosted by OCIC

Yamari receiving her OCIC Youth Global Changemaker Award at the International Development Week event hosted by OCIC

We're excited to celebrate Yamari Martin-Halsall for her Award as one of five young leaders selected to be an OCIC Global Changemaker Youth Ambassador 2018. Yamari was a Casa-Pueblito Canada Summer Jobs employee in 2017 and her continued role as a volunteer for our organization and others is exceptional. We were proud to nominate her for this award, and now we're equally proud to share with you her insights to inspire more young leaders making the world better and brighter for all.

Q: What does being a Youth Global Changemaker mean to you?
Global Youth Changemaker is more than just a title, it's an idea. It’s the idea that someone who has so far been on this planet for a short time can make a difference on this planet. For me it also means collaborating with other like-minded individuals to find ways to positively impact the world we live in.

Q: Why did you want to work at Casa Pueblito for a summer job?
Last summer, as I was just completing my undergraduate degree, I realized that I now had the time to do things that I was actually interested in, instead of feeling forced to do them as a part of my academic requirements.

Tania, a friend of mine who had previously worked for Casa, alerted me of a job posting for a summer events coordinator. Immediately before I event got through the job description I knew that I wanted to be at Casa – Pueblito, and it just so happened that I had the right qualifications. I had never worked with Casa – Pueblito before, having only gone to the 2016 summer social. But I knew that I wanted to do work that was meaningful not only for my resume, but also for my community.

Up until then, I had been struggling to find paid work with an organization that worked in Central America, much less the country my family had roots in since pre-Columbian times. But what immediately attracted me to Casa was their commitment to solidarity, social justice and community building in Latin America and Latinx youth in Canada. I felt that not only could I grow from the experience working at Casa – Pueblito but that hopefully they could benefit from me as well.

Q: How did you bring the spirit of a Changemaker to your role at Casa Pueblito?
When I started at Casa – Pueblito, our team was pretty tiny, but mighty. I couldn’t have asked to work with more supportive, talented and strong women such as Sinéad and Olivia. I felt a bit of pressure not only as the only Nicaraguan working in the Toronto office but also as the only Latina (at Casa-Pueblito's Managua Office, 3 out of 4 staff are Nicaraguan; when I worked in the Toronto office there were 3 staff and 2 interns) . From the very first day I knew that I needed to speak my mind about issues that affected my community, and I am very grateful that Sinéad and Olivia and the rest of the Casa – Pueblito team helped foster an environment where that could happen.

During that time I wanted encourage solidarity not only across borders but most importantly at the time, with Latinx youth. Having gone to the summer event from the year before, I already knew I wanted a change. To me, the work we were doing was meaningful not only because we were raising money for Casa’s projects, but also because it was giving a much-needed platform for marginalized and young Latinx individuals to share their experiences with others inside and outside of the community.

Q: How have you been exploring and building as a Changemaker since then?
Since then, I have been taking time not only to build my skills but also to continue decolonizing my perspective. The past summer was very eye opening for me, and I knew that I needed to keep checking in with myself and continuing that conversation. My time at Casa as an event coordinator was over, but I knew that I wanted to stay involved as much as possible. Thanks to Sinéad, I had the opportunity to engage in public speaking, something that up until then consisted mainly of speaking about dead Spanish literary figures and acting in a theatre production. One avenue I have really been exploring since then has been creating my own voice for change through poetry. I had been taking a course called Spoken word, culture and performance at York University, and it was there that I really felt inspired not only by my professor but also my classmates to push myself creatively and use my words as a tool for change, no matter who is listening.

Q: How do you want to Change the world?
Ultimately, I am a strong believer that the world cannot be changed by the efforts of one person alone. Looking towards the future, I hope that I can use my voice and privilege to incite people to want to contribute towards the change the world so desperately needs. My voice is only so small and quiet, but the voices of mine and many others is so much louder.

Q: What's up next for projects you're excited about ?
Thinking about sharing voices and changing the world, I am super excited about some future projects I have planned for this upcoming year, one of them in collaboration with the other Global Youth Changemakers and OCIC. We are planning an interactive Human Library of experiences and expertise where people can learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals. We are all strong advocates for collaboration and cooperation and we hope to bring together not only active members of the international development community but also those willing to learn more. So, stay tuned as we launch that event!