I can’t believe I have already spent my first week in El Salvador! To briefly fill you in: I am working with a non-profit organization called Action Aid which, much like Oxfam, works for a world where every human being has access to basic rights, including water, education, political representation, and health. I, along with about 20 other students, are participating in Action Aid’s four-week course in which we will learn about land grabs in Latin America and how to strategically plan a campaign in our respective communities. (All workshops and community events are conducted in Spanish!) We will also be planning and executing our own campaigns in both San Salvador and local rural communities.
Overall, I am satisfied with the outcomes of Week 1. I am very happy with how the students all cooperate and share stories both inside and outside the classroom. I believe we have established a solid working foundation among the students for which to build our future work together.
The first week’s theme was Teoria y Creatividad (Theory and Creativity). We engaged creatively through group work (e.g. brainstorming qualities of an activist leader, presenting our different ideas of utopias, and preparing for and participating in a march—which were all successful!) and learned about the theory of nonviolence activism by reading Marshall Ganz’s works on the theory for mobilization and nonviolence activism.
What is most amazing about this experience is the diversity of all the students. There are about 5 American students and 20 students from throughout Central and South American, including Guatemala, Chile, and El Salvador. I believe all students have valuable experiences to share and, as an American student, it is especially important to me that I better understand the problem within the context of the Latin American community.