Unlocking Silent Histories (USH) began to emerge as an organization in 2012 in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. It was then that our Founder, Donna DeGennaro, left her academic job to follow her passion of working side-by-side with youth to develop youth-centered learning environments that leverage local voice through media technologies. In the highland region of Lake Guatemala, Unlocking Silent Histories commenced with four enthusiastic and eager youth. Carmen, Emilio, Catalina and Fabiola began contributing their knowledge and ideas to the emerging pedagogy of using video to investigate their communities. Dedicated to learning new technologies and teaching us about their worlds, these youth took to the streets to interview their peers and elders, capture everyday life, and construct stories through their own eyes.
Learning with these inspirational youth, Unlocking Silent Histories' learning approach become more solidified and was next implemented in San Juan la Laguna. In this community, eight more students selected themes related to their cultures and communities that they wanted to share with the world. After one year, 10 burgeoning filmmakers created nine films.
In order to develop internal sustainability, USH then identified three Program Leaders, who began interning to prepare for taking on the responsibility of teaching new groups of students Santa Clara, Chuacruz, and an additional group in San Juan and more recently in Santiago Atitlán, Quiejel, and Patanatic. Additionally, our Leaders accepted administrative responsibilities and continued to contribute their ideas shaping the vision and processes of our media enabled pedagogy. It is through youth vision and direction along with strong local partnerships that we will expand our reach to work with indigenous communities within and beyond Guatemala.