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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.