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Building Bridges With ESD -- An Interview With Sergio Guillen

July 11, 2019

​​Things are heating up at ESD Global, as we get ready for so many summer events.


One face we'll be seeing regularly at all of our events, in both Costa Rica and New York, is that of Sergio Guillen, who is here with us to talk about his work, his community, and his involvement with ESD Global. 


In addition to being a project director for an NGO, Sergio works as a suited-instructor. He will be working as a translator during the sixteen-hour IMPACT course for the community of Colon, San Jose Costa Rica while his wife, Jenny, is nearby participating in a Level 1 Instructor Training


And we can't wait to work with him during the very first Men's Incubator.


Welcome, Sergio!


Q. Please tell us a bit about your NGO and some of the projects you’re working on.


A. I am currently working in a Project Director role with the Foundation for Peace and Democracy (FUNPADEM). FUNPADEM is a non-profit, non-partisan, NGO established in 1988 to promote sustainable human development in Central America. 


We have worked for over 30 years in transboundary cooperation, migration, citizen safety, dialogue and conflict transformation, labor rights and public governance. I began working with FUNPADEM as an environmental conflict management consultant in 2007, right after I finished my Masters Degree in Environmental Security and Peace at the University for Peace.


In 2008, I went on to support the organization as a social dialogue specialist, designing and facilitating dialogue forums on labor rights and citizen engagement, until I left for Australia to do my Ph.D. in 2013. I rejoined them last year to direct a new project, funded by the United States government, aimed at strengthening the capacity of government agencies and coordination networks in Costa Rica’s Northern Region to address the needs and human rights of migrants. 


Q. How did you become involved in self-defense and martial arts?


​​A. When I was 7, my parents found that I had atrophied lower leg muscles, so I underwent physical therapy for several months. Afterwards, my parents encouraged me to take Taekwon-Do lessons during grade school. I took it up again in College in Canada and earned my First Dan Black Belt in Moo Duk Kwan under Master Jesus López in the late 1990s. 


I then went on to study Kenjutsu, Jujutsu and Aikido under Master Pol Martin’s Ishinkan Budo system, and earned my Ho Dan Belt in Kenjutsu in 2003. I taught Kenjutsu at our school in San Pedro for several years. Since the mid 1990s, however, I began to feel that my martial arts practice was missing a closer link to engaging in service for the betterment of society.  


Q. What inspired you to become a suited-instructor? What is one important aspect of the role that you’d like people to understand?


A. Starting in the mid 1990s, I began to feel that my martial arts practice was missing a closer link to engaging in service for the betterment of society. A lot of things about my martial arts experience were great, but there were also a lot of elements of toxic masculinity ingrained in the local martial arts community. 


I found Rick Fields’ Book “Code of the Warrior” and read about Model Mugging, an