Author: Ariel Jimenez, Yesenia Sepulveda
Joven Noble, being an indigenously-based curriculum focused on young men, has looked to walk with youth whose lives have been impacted by violence, gangs, trauma, and other various issues that exist in our San José communities. While recognizing these baggages, the Joven Noble process allows all of us to see the beauties within our families, communities, and ultimately within ourselves. The young men we have been honored to work with- whether at LCPA, Overfelt, Foothill or the McKinley center- all represent well what it means to be a young warrior and people with Palabra (word).
“Joven Noble, to me, means palabra. It has taught me to become a strong man and [to] think before I speak.” Jarred, who was part of our LCPA group and is now heading to SJSU in the fall.
Whether big or small, participants have come to recognize that despite negative remarks said about them through stereotypes, media outlets, and the larger society, they still carry worth. Their families, their values, are all valuable. And no matter how they come to us or how they leave us, they are still sacred. It is the hopes of the Joven Noble staff that we have helped youth walk their path as they lay their own foundation for their futures.
Often times young women are ignored when it comes to identifying the effects of societal issues surrounding violence, gangs, and the criminal justice system. These are usually male-dominated discourses. However, we see young women get trapped in the same systems and cycles as men- these days, at a much higher rate. Xinachtli came as a response to the need and calling for greater support of young women who go through experiences similar to men but who didn’t seem to have support or spaces to go to. Xinachtli, a Nahuatl term meaning “the germinating of the seed”, beautifully represents the young women who took part in our first groups at the McKinley neighborhood center and Franklin-McKinley Elementary school. At the heart of their growth, whether they were 10 or 17 years of age, it was significant that we had conversations surrounding healthy relationships, the importance of values and family, anger management, reproductive health, and so on. All in a space that is inclusive, safe, and comfortable.
Xinachtli has helped to change how girls felt about themselves.
“I feel more confident.”- Estrella
“…I am more self- aware…and it really helped change my thought process.” – Veronica
It is when we walk with them in a good way that they are not simply productive members of society, but are healthy, positive, and balanced members of their families and communities for the next generation of women that will follow them.