Leonor Merín, Innovation & Content Director, Fundación Mustakis (Chile)

Leonor has worked for over 10 years developing philanthropic projects in the areas of education, culture, heritage, urbanism, innovation and entrepreneurship. An Art History graduate and an Architecture and Heritage Master, she has a broad perspective in understanding historical processes from aesthetics, humanity through greatness, strategy and beauty. In 2014 she started planning Fundación Mustakis´ to create a space where children could engage in learning experiences in the areas of mind, body and soul. A year later, she drove the rehabilitation of the old national glass factory and created and directed KAOS Creative Learning Centre for children and families, in Santiago de Chile. An active member of the Senior Leader´s Program for Non-Profit Management of Columbia University, Leonor defines herself as a “philanthropic broker”, considered as an agent that materializes risky ideas, articulating different protagonists whose purposes are social impact, always under experimental methods and high standards.

Education is undoubtedly the tool for social transformation and citizen construction, and it is intimately connected to each country’s progress. For a while, education has been on the agenda´s main concerns becoming a worldwide trending topic. Global conversations, discussion, and reflection upon education quality, coverage, and results have been an ongoing process for quite a time now. There is a restless concern from different actors to achieve significant and positive changes in education. In this context, Fundación Gabriel & Mary Mustakis in Chile has been contributing to people’s development
for over 20 years, by promoting self-generated and third-party initiatives that drive transformative experiences and give opportunities to discover and develop talents. Thus, we are constantly searching to support education and culture in society by empowering leading-edge initiatives that enrich integral education, enhancing personal development that allows children to face challenges with creativity and knowledge. When we talk about future skills we tend to talk about present needs. Nowadays, we have to think on a global change context. Our student´s working skills should not be focused only
in technical learning but in value-based cornerstones that will mark their life development:

• Personal growth and internal development.
• Growth mindset
• Constant capacity to learn and unlearn
• Flexibility
• Building relationships
• Ethics

These six mainstays are what we at Fundación Gabriel & Mary Mustakis value the most in every project that we support. On one occasion we heard Ger Graus saying “nobody can dream of being what they have not met or known”. This is where we work, opening illumination doors for each of our students to enter new paths and build new dreams in an infinite world of possibilities.

This is what ignites us. We believe in the enormous potential of people. We are convinced that they can become the best version of themselves and be a contribution to society. How do we do it? We design, create and implement innovative, non-formal learning experiences in the areas of science and technology, art and culture, body and expression and nature:

We designed ZIM (Mustakis Interactive Zone) so that people have the opportunity to experiment immersive art, being able to integrate a sensorial, analog and technological experience. ZIM offers the possibility to embrace a practical appreciation of artists, being able to see, touch, taste, listen and feel the art. Currently, there are 7 Mustakis interactive zones throughout Chile, located in different museums and cultural spaces, bringing people closer to art.

Story Telling
We encourage people´s imagination by sharing our storytelling methodology, which includes body and voice expression. In our storytelling program participants create their own handcrafted PUP (stands out for Little Portable Universe) and
“Whisperers”, which surrounds all curious people into an art-based concept where they can imagine all types of stories.

Frutillar Circus
We believe that equilibrium is in the essence of the being. Our program is located in Frutillar, a southern city of Chile, recognized as a Creative  City by UNESCO in 2017. We deliver the opportunity for children to develop an integral
discipline, experience body and arts through our circus program. We articulate the work with the community, which seeks integration and local cultural identity through the arts.

KAOS Creative Learning Center
We created an innovative learning space that seeks to motivate young people to discover the exciting world of knowledge and creation through explorations in the field of science, technology, kinesthesia and art. In 2019, we started “Artists in Residence” in collaboration with Sugar Hill Children´s Museum of Storytelling and Art based in NYC, USA. Artists
from Chile and the USA have exchanged learning residences between both countries, allowing people from each community to engage with the process of creating art and amplify their vision towards art. Every year, almost 10,000 students come to
KAOS learning center to experience hands-on learning activities in a specially conceived space that awakens curiosity, imagination and opens up to new areas of interest, in tune with the demands of contemporary society.

Science & Technology
We drive people to imagine and build the future. We do this by creating STEAM programs where teenagers can explore their technological and artistic capabilities combined by developing fully and strengthening collaborative work, perseverance,
communication and leadership. In the pursuit of integrating technology and art, we have formed the “Lighting art” workshop for teenagers with Chilean artists. And the “Musical Makers” workshop in a joint collaboration with MIT,
where teenagers have built their own musical instrument, understanding aesthetics, functionality, science and harmony.

A Change of View
In the last months, we have unlearned and adapted. We are currently transitioning into global change. Together we have sailed uncertainty, which is lived and felt uniquely by each one. We have stood beside each other, listened to each other and are learning and deconstructing constantly in search of what is essential.

In contemporary society, it is imperative to support and collaborate within the public and private world as an active member of civil society. In this sense, we must incorporate the effective impact variable as an unavoidable paradigm.
Social change starts when people question their status quo and change their habits. It begins when you start being conscious of certain behaviours and actions that are merely based in traditional patterns and you evaluate whether they are still useful in the actual reality. Unlearning is necessary to evolve. During this period, we have questioned our limits, we have changed our way of working where collaboration is an indissoluble condition. We launched www.mustakisencasa.org, an online website with free educational resources for families, children and teachers from Spanish speaking countries. On
the other hand, we´ve had internal conversations and have discussed relevant and urgent matters with our associates, creating the Mustakis XP summits, a space to dialogue amongst multidisciplinary people. Our challenges are both the associativity of the Mustakis community and how to scale what we do and accomplish the sustainable equilibrium of
our purpose. We have continued to build ourselves as creative beings of nature and feel that we are becoming whole creatures. We have talked and lived with courage, trust, intuition, compassion, risk, vulnerability, love and deep connection with the sense of common wellbeing.  There is no doubt that today more than ever, we are learning the essentials together.

Content Disclaimer

Related Articles