In February 2015, the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) held the 5th Annual International Youth Exchange for Food Security and Sovereignty —“El Intercambio”— in collaboration with its partner organizations in Mexico and Central America: UCA San Ramón (Augusto Cesar Sandino Union of Agricultural Cooperatives), VIDA, A.C. (Agroecological Connection and Development), ASDENIC (Center for Integrated Information of the Nicaraguan Association of Social Development), and UIMQRoo (Intercultural Maya University Quintana Roo).
El Intercambio is an annual youth leadership exchange that aims to empower youth working towards food sovereignty. The location of the event rotates among the regions affiliated with the network in Mexico, Central America, and the United States. This year, more than 13 youth and project leaders from CAN’s agroecology-based food security projects in Mexico and Central America traveled to California to exchange experiences and interact with university students, local social movements, and farmers in California working to establish more sustainable and just food systems. The week-long Intercambio included activities such as trainings and knowledge exchange, networking and strategic planning, and youth leadership development, as well as opportunities to meet California farmers and learn about local experiences in food justice. For U.S. participants, El Intercambio offers an opportunity to learn about the daily struggles that youth leaders face in Mexico and Central America as well as the solutions they are developing to achieve greater food security and sovereignty in their communities. El Intercambio is a concrete opportunity to support and strengthen youth leadership for social change.
- Thematic workshops and knowledge exchanges to improve skills needed to strengthen food security and sovereignty in their communities, including the following topics: seed bank development; food processing, preservation and agroindustry basics; facilitation of meetings, decision-making processes and group conflict management; and computer skills and social network technology.
- Excursions to explore and enjoy the local ambiance of Santa Cruz and the Central Coast.
- Exchanges between university students and professors, businesses, organizations, and local producers.
- Meetings with youth and project leaders to evaluate past experiences and to identify and project future needs for skill building and organizational development for the coming year.
- Strengthen structure and functioning of the Youth Network.
- Improve youth leadership capacity to support food security and sovereignty in their communities.
- Strengthen ties across CAN and Youth Network partner organizations.
- Exchange skills and knowledge between network members.
- Learn about local experiences in California that will assist youth in strengthening their own projects.
- Develop strategies for managing funds to support the development of the network.
- Share experiences and social justice solutions with the people of California.