Founder’s Corner: Olga’s Insight

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A north wind has been blowing through the central highlands of Guatemala for several weeks now. You know what they say about north winds – they roll in with a vengeance and bring in a season of change. This north wind has been blowing cool and steady and it set the stage for one of our youth leaders to shine.

I noticed that change one morning during a leadership development workshop for our 53 scholars. Our youth leaders were paired up and their task was to balance a balloon between them without using their hands….while walking in a circle. It’s a silly challenge, which is precisely the point. Successful completion of the task requires constant communication as well as the ability to move at the same pace so as not to apply too much pressure to pop the balloon and not too little so as to let it fall. Of course, we also happened to be outside with that stubborn north wind was blowing. The stakes were high. Any slip and the wind would catch the balloon and your team would be eliminated from the challenge.

The first round ended and the teams that had been defeated giggled and gathered around for a second chance to form groups of four with three balloons. The standard attempt looked like a train of four teens facing forward with a balloon sandwiched in between each. But standard wasn’t going to cut it. At Reading Village, we’re always on a look out for the extraordinary. Olga, as it turned out, had a little extraordinary up her sleeve that day. She tied all three balloons together and gathered her compañeros around the balloons, thereby eliminating the difficulty of coordinating speed of walking and pressure between individuals, and most importantly, protecting the balloon from the wind.


This is exactly the kind of thinking we love to see in our youth leaders and in the children they are reading to. The ability to solve problems, leverage limited resources, communicate effectively, think outside the box, and lead. It’s the ability to have this kind of insight that’s going to lead their communities in new directions.

– Linda Smith, Founder & Executive Director of Reading Village

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