Carlos Ricardo Garcia Cobo, 22, was for years written off by his neighbors based on negative stereotypes that affected how he saw himself.
Since he started breakdancing during high school, that’s changed—now, he’s a recognized leader in the community, committed to finding ways for other young people to express themselves artistically. He’s part of a local peace network in Guatemala City, through which he works to change living conditions and build a sense of community in his neighborhood.
During my childhood, I had really good moments while I was studying and bad moments because there were so many problems at home.
When I was studying high school, I got involved in breakdance and other artistic activities like hip-hop and bboy. I have been practicing for almost six years now.
[Breakdancing] defines me as a person and a member of the community. ... I dedicate myself to instruct and give classes to other young people. At the same time I talk to them and try to give them some advice to prevent them from getting involved in illegal activities and gangs in the area.
Inside the arts world, there is a group harmony, and if there is harmony, we can be comfortable with each other and like that build peace.
Also, in art there is an expression. Others, by observing, they get motivated to imitate.
Carlos is one of many young residents of Guatemala City who have identifed the local peace networks as a way to improve their neighborhoods, because it makes them feel as part of a whole and it provides them with tools to change their living conditions and to improve their relationships.