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Published: December 30th 2013
Green Mining Does not Exist
Outside the church is Curasque
“Come to El Salvador, fall in love, have your heart broken, and be ruined forever.” - Dean Brackley
Backblogging about my trip to El Salvador in January with a group of students from my school feels both empowering and disappointing. Reading back through the notes I made during our travels, I am reminded by the incredible solidarity movement that we encountered there, and by the people both Salvadorean and from around the world who dedicate their lives to the transformation of El Salvador and to La Lucha (the struggle) for justice and equality. I came back from this journey feeling energized to do more justice work in my classroom and in my own community. The process of conscientization or critical consciousness seemed to be alive and well in me after 9 days of being nourished by social justice narratives. My disappointment comes when I reflect on how easy it was to fall back into comfort. I continue to identify myself with social justice, have made this work the topic of my masters thesis, and have made some ground in incorporating this work into my teaching practice. And yet in other ways I have allowed myself to slip back into the
Church of the Workers
Downtown San salvador
comfortable waters of apathy...
The trip itself was organized by CRISPAZ and I was fortunate enough to go as a participant and chaperone. A small group of grade 11 and 12 students along with 4 chaperones spent just over a week visiting NGO's in San Salvador who do development work, visiting schools, museums and churches, learning about the civil war, of Oscar Romero and the evolution of liberation theology, learning about anti mining activism, failing prison systems, and gang violence. In the middle of our time, we left the city and made our way by bus towards the tiny mountain village of Currasque where our group split into two and spent three days with host families learning about life in a traditional farming village. There were breaks; we attended a football game, spent an amazing afternoon having a picnic and swimming near the banks of the Rio Sumpul with our host families, we had shared many delicious meals together with our group and our host families, and on the last day we spent the afternoon on a near deserted beach at Playa Samplas, basking in the sun, playing coconut football, and jumping waves with a group of El Salvadorean
teens from a very poor neighbourhood of San Salvador.
Just yesterday, I recieved a letter in the mail that I had written during one of our many evening reflection sessions. The CRISPAZ office had sent these letters to the program participants as a way to remind them of their head space at that time and in that place. Reading the letter reinforced for me the importance of finding ways to nourish the sense of critical consciousness that grew through my experiences in El Salvador. I need to continue reading critical theory, incorporating critical pedagogies into my teaching practice and must continue to stand in solidarity with grassroots movements in the developing world.
For many of the student participants in the delegation, I believe this experience was transforming. I saw seeds of social justice planted through the exposure to development work in El Salvador. For some, I am certain the comforts of life in Canada will soon wash some of the more difficult memories of the trip from their minds, but I believe others to be more permanently oriented towards justice. One of the participants has since chosen to go into International studies at an American Lutheran University and
I believe plans to spend her next years committed to development work, while others might be influenced in smaller ways. Nevertheless, the powerful nature of these experiential learning opportunities can not be underestimated. I hope to return to El Salvador, and hope to lead similar delegations of students in the future.
“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.” ― Paulo Freire
, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
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