The Source LGBT+ Center Youth Leadership Academy Begins Service Trip to Ecuador

The group leaving from LAX today includes Max Smith, Briauna Guerrero, Raquel Lorenz, Kristen Loya, Jared Rubio, Joshua Sanchez, Rory Summers, Ruben Vela, and Karigan Wann. The Source LGBT+ Center staff are Brian Poth, Nick Vargas, Dean Jackson, and Edwin Gomez.

Visalia, CA, July 17, 2019– The Source LGBT+ Center’s Youth Leadership Academy leaves today on a service, educational, and cultural exchange trip to Ecuador. The group will be staying at the Latitude Foundation*, in Otavalo, Ecuador (about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Quito, the capital).

Nick Vargas, Director of Development at The Source, said “The Source LGBT+ Center has a youth leadership academy for people ages 16 to 23.  It’s a 6-month program that meets twice a month.  During sessions the participants go through modules on LGBT+ history, public speaking, advocacy, personal finance, slam poetry, and other topics of use to young leaders.  In addition, they complete a class project around health care access.  This year, The Source received a donation for travel.  Executive Director Brian Poth and I chose Ecuador because we know two Visalians, Gwyn and Maggie Reniers, who have a non-profit hotel that hosts service-groups. Plus, recently, same-sex marriage was made legal in Ecuador.  While there, our class will work with the local LGBT+ community, as well as taking needed school supplies to the youth in Ecuador.  School is not free there, and supplies can be very expensive.  Every participant, including the chaperones, will be “packing for a purpose” with back packs, pens, pencils, and other school supplies.”

Vargas continues, “For most of the academy, it will be the first time on a plane and the first time leaving California.  Brian and I are using this as the final education piece of this year’s academy to show students what it is like to travel internationally and interact with a different culture.  We expect to make the international travel component an ongoing part of the youth leadership academy.”  Applications will be taken for the next class in September.

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