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Sunday, October 20, 2013

We have a trip!

At this point, early in the school year, it is safe to say that we will be having a trip this summer!  We have the minimum of six participants and we hope to attract more participants in the upcoming year.

This year, we are simply charging $1200.00 for the trip - transportation, translation, accommodation, facilitation, meals, etc.  People are expected to book their own flights, but we can help by suggesting a travel agent.

The trip is newly designed to provide people with an introduction to the country and its people.

You can see the current schedule here.

The really interesting idea is that we are promoting respectful partnerships between our schools and schools in El Salvador.  One partnership exists between several schools and the school in San Jose las Flores.

We have two schools who are now interested in developing new partnerships.  This will be a really interesting process and I see all sorts of interesting possibilities that can arise from this.

For those who have decided to come this year, I can guarantee you a very meaningful experience.  For those who are still thinking of coming - there is no time like the present!  Come join us. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Short video on upcoming meeting

First meeting of the new group

We are meeting on Oct 1. Th is should be a great meeting - we have over 20 people signed up for the trip - I think we are really offering something good this year.

Here is the agenda:

Introductory Meeting
Compadres y Comadres
Collective of Ontario teachers moving for peace, action, development and relationships in El Salvador
Tuesday, October 1
4:30 PM- 5:30 PM
St. Gregory School

Trip Dates: July 1 – 12, 2014

Introductions/Greetings – Paul

Outline of the trip - – Paul & Rene

A day in a life of a delegation participant– Meg

Opportunities for developing links with communities in El Salvador

Introduction to El Salvador and partners – Rene

a. Program Costs - $1200. – minimum 6 people (meals, accommodation, transportation in El Salvador, interpretation, coordination – does not include flights or travel insurance)
b. Payment Schedule: November 15 initial deposit $600. 2nd deposit $600. – January 15 You are responsible for your own travel arrangements, but flights need to be booked by January 15.
c. Passports
d. Spanish preparation
e. group preparation and orientation – Saturday, June 21
f. optional additional trip to Guatemala

Monday, June 3, 2013

Launch of a new program for July 2014

We have launched our new program for July 2014. The information is going out throughout the school board and because this is early, there should be enough time for staff to consider this experience for next year.

Here is the poster we are using to promote this year's trip. Very different and very exciting opportunity for those who want to learn more about El Salvador and possibly establish links with communities in El Salvador.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A draft program for next year

Already we are working on a program for next year. The new schedule is very different from our last trip. This is designed as an introductory experience for any staff member. The idea is to expose participants to a variety of communities that main form the basis of a longer lasting relationship. We also see this experience as an important way to develop leadership capabilities in all participants.


DAY 1:

Travel to and arrival in El Salvador (via US) with transfer to San Salvador guesthouse and brief introduction/orientation by SalvAide El Salvador Representative

DAY 2:

AM: Workshop with Equipo Maíz on socio-political history of El Salvador
PM: “Contrasts Tour” of San Salvador to witness the geographical distribution of social inequity and exclusion among some of San Salvador’s neighbourhoods

DAY 3:

All day: Seminars at Central American University (UCA – Jesuit University) covering education topics, e.g. liberation theology, critical pedagogy, popular education, the role of the Church in social struggle, the legacy of Archbishop Romero and the Jesuit scholars

DAY 4:

All day: “Archbishop Romero Tour” – a tour officialised by the Government of El Salvador through the Ministry of Tourism in homage to El Salvador’s patron saint, martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, whose peaceful struggle for human rights in El Salvador during the late 1970s earned him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Archbishop Romero is being considered for sainthood under the Church’s official beatification process.

DAY 5:

All day: “Education in El Salvador Tour” – a brief look at the education system in El Salvador as an example of low-middle income country education around the world. The tour includes meeting with Ministry of Education officials to outline their education reform efforts, meeting with the National Association of Salvadoran Educators – 21 June (ANDES 21 de Junio, El Salvador’s teachers union), and visits to various public and private education institutions.

DAY 6:

All day: A visit to the colonial town of Suchitoto in Cuscatlán province for a tour of the historic town, the Joya de Cerén Mayan ruins (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and for an introduction to the work of SalvAide sister organizations CRIPDES and CORDES in the region.

DAY 7:

All day: A visit to Chalatenango province with a focus on the model town of San José Las Flores (a town repopulated by internal refugees during the civil war) to learn more about the work of CRIPDES and CORDES in the region. The visit will include an interpretive eco-tourism hike to the Our Lady of Resistance statue of the Virgin Mary erected by community members as an emblem of community opposition to large-scale metal mining (much of it Canadian) in the region (with possible short workshop on popular opposition to Canadian mining in El Salvador by the civil society National Roundtable on Metal Mining).

DAY 8:

All day: A visit to San Vicente province and the Lower Lempa River Region (Bajo Lempa) to learn more about the work of CRIPDES and CORDES there and for an eco-tourist boat tour through the Bajo Lempa river estuary, its mangrove forest, and the cooperative cashew orchards on Montecristo Island

DAY 9:

All day: Direct participation in a hands-on social works community education project for which the delegation will have raised funds

DAY 10:

All day: Direct participation in a hands-on social works community education project for which the delegation will have raised funds

DAY 11:

AM: Return to San Salvador guesthouse
PM: Final debrief and preparation for early next day travel

DAY 12:

Travel to and arrival back in Ottawa (via US)


Covers food and bottled water (three meals per day), accommodations (shared), private transportation, Spanish-English interpretation, and coordination

$850 per participant (minimum 10 participants)
$1,050 per participant (7 participants)
$1,325 per participant (5 participants)

Monday, May 13, 2013

More thoughts on next trip

The fact that we have a year to put together our next trip has some real advantages. We have been in talks with a number of groups that can offer us new opportunities. We are working to link the experience to Religious Studies at St. Paul`s. There is even a chance we may be able to link up to the principals course - but this is certainly a work in progress! We are also going to try to appeal to our principals. A trip to visit schools and talk to teachers, administrators and kids would be a great learning experience for any administrator.

I think also we need to get back to doing more analysis on the current situation in El salvador. The suggestion has been made that we spend more time at the Jesuit University either discussing social justice issues or maybe their education outreach programs. There are also many civil society groups doing wonderful work - we need to spend more time with some of these groups.

grounds of the Jesuit University

I think we should also visit a great variety of school districts. The school we visited in the Bajo Lempa area was very different from the school in San Jose las Flores. Maybe we need to see and talk to more teachers and administrators to get a better sense of how education is progressing now in El salvador. This may lead to some good partnerships between schools in El Salvador and in Canada and I think we should be open to this and discuss the partnership possibilities while we are there.

visiting a school in Bajo Lempa

There are so many good ideas for partnerships that could be explored.

Another idea that has come up is the possibility of actually doing some physical work while we are down there. We have traditionally kept away fromm these types of projects, but maybe this is something we need to look into. As long as it is a project that CRIPDES is interested in it may be another way to force links within the community.

I think we also need to boost up the touristic nature of the trip. Teachers who come on this experience have just finished a long year and they need time to rest and explore some of the natural beauties of the countryside. Staying overnight at an ocean resort could be a great way for the group to relax and come together. We should also spend some time learning about the legacy of Oscar Romero and the war. This history is really interesting and it should be one of the things we focus on.

an overnight stay at a local ocean resort would be a real treat

Finally, I think we need to spend a few days in Suchitoto. This is a beautiful city and the cultural center of El Salvador. We finished our trip there last year and it is a wonderful place to unwind. They also have some language schools that we could take advantage of. On our last trip, one of our participants stayed an extra few days there to work on her Spanish.

colonial architecture in Suchitoto

There is so much more we can do on this thrip that will appeal to our teachers and principals. We will continue to look for new, fresh ideas over the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

What should the next trip look like?

Our next trip to El Salvador is more than a year away, but now is the time to imagine what it should look like. Usually, people going down have no concrete idea on what should happen - quite understandable. This however is an area that a gret many of us could contribute to - we have many students and teachers who have now gone down, it would be great to get some of their ideas.

Here are a few:

We should continue with our orientation in San Salvador. We need to understand the context of Oscar Romero and the war. But, beyond that there are so many interesting groups doing great justice work in the city - we need to meet with more of them. Groups like Concertacion des Mujeres - The Women’s Consensus Table. We visited this group on an earlier trip and i think it is essential that we meet women's groups to find out how the struggle for equality is progressing. In 2005, I wrote about this group:

In a country where the protection of human rights has always been lax, women’s rights are always at risk. The health and safety of women in this country are key issues of concern for this group. Women suffer from high rates of violence and abuse. As in many Latin American countries women have been marginalized. The Consensus Table works with women’s groups to develop leadership skills among community leaders. The group plays a key role in an increasing number of municipalities in the budget formation process.

A sample of one of the gender policy documents published by the Consensus Table

There are other groups we need to meet with while we are in the city - of course we will meet with CRIPDES, they are our hosts and their partners CORDES. We always meet with these great groups and we learn about their work as the trip progresses.

We need to meet with Equipo Maiz. They are the best group to set the historical context in El Salvador. They tell the story going back at least to the turn of the century - this is essential for setting the context.

one of the educational aids used by Equipo Maiz to explain the history of indigenous people in El Salvador

There are other groups involved in eco-justice UNES for one that we also need to meet with while we are in the city.

Other ideas - I am really hoping that we will be able to attract principal candidates to our next trip. If that is the case, we need to look at education in different parts of the country. Last trip we spent seven days in San Jose las Flores. We learned a great deal, but I think we need to spend time in other districts like the Bajo Lempa area so that we variety of examples of the current state of education in El Salvador. From what I have seen, the schools in Bajo Lempa are not as well supported as they are in San Jose las Flores.

meeting with students in the Bajo Lempa area

This is a start, I think there are many other things we need to do differently on the next trip. There is a whole history of the war, especially the massacres that took place during the war.

memorial for the people of El Mozote massacre

Another component of the trip should be a visit to Suchitoto. This is a beautiful city and a cultural center for the country. There is also a language school there and I really think it would be good to spend at least two days learning some basic Spanish - this is a great venue to learn in.

One of the colonial churches in Suchitoto.

This is just a start - if we are offering credit to a wide range of teachers, we need to make this a really different trip. We have some time, we need to hear more ideas.

Friday, March 29, 2013

How to get a delegation to El Salvador

Over the past two years, I have had a great amount of difficulty getting a trip to El Salvador. However, I am determined to get a delegation for next year.

I would like to offer the following incentives:

Religious Studies Part I, or II or III from St. Paul's

partial credit for PQP Part I

This could be an outstanding accomplishment for our school board. No one that I am aware of has offered time in El Salvador as a partial credit for a principals course. But think of it - can you think of a better way to prepare for leadership than by investigating the education system in El Salvador?

This has not yet been approved by the Board. There are lots of stakeholders here. But we have an opportunity here to do something really unique and significant.

My prayer for this Good Friday is that it all comes together.