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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.