Loyola University Maryland

Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ)

Encounter El Salvador Reflections

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“This trip was exactly what I needed to open my mind to the issues that are going on in other countries and to experience first hand the struggles of war. It is easy to get stuck in the daily life of Loyola and I would challenge any one who is slightly interested in this program to look into it. You will laugh, cry and connect on this trip. When you go into Arcatao and meet people who wake up everyday and work just to survive, you will be touched beyond belief. The children’s smiles and the hospitality of everyone in the town will make you not want to leave! This was an amazing experience and I am so lucky I got to attend. You will also form new friendships with the people in your group and you will connect with them on a “Family” level.”

“The experience allows you to step outside of your own reality and challenges beliefs that you may never have thought twice about. It allows you to take in recent history first-hand, unfiltered by anyone else’s ideas of what you want to or should hear. It allows you to draw your own conclusions, and to learn from recent history in the hopes that it will not be repeated.”

“This program is a challenge. The best kind of challenge that you will encounter mentally, physically and emotionally. It is wonderful.”

"This program is an intense journey with a lot of preparation with a group as well as individual growth. It is also the most powerful educational experience I have ever had. All the preparation and meetings are worth it because they prepare you for a very worthwhile experience.  I am very grateful to have gone."

"The program is about educating and orienting oneself with the reality of the world as shown through the Salvadoran situation and therein entering into solidarity with the Salvadoran people and other socially involved groups."

"I would describe the program as an amazing immersion program that can open your eyes to the injustices that people in Central America are facing.  This experience was like no other experience I have ever had and it moved me to dedicate part of my life to service and helping the poor."

"This trip was transformative emotional, empowering, and fun. There is no way to explain its value. You have to open your heart and mind and let the experience happen to you in your own unique way. Be assured that Loyola and Crispaz will support you and nurture you every step of the way. You just have to accept the challenge to be transformed."

"Overall I think this experience put my own spiritual development into context. This trip was about putting an intense focused energy on taking realities, information, and viewpoints in and processing them.  At points on the journey things will hit you. For me, when we met with students ffrom one of the poorest communities in El Salvador at Fe Alegria, I suddenly realized that I was learning about and looking at, even discussing aspects of their reality that was totally apart from my own. My presence may even have raised details of such a reality that those students may rather forget. I watched myself move through phases of love, solidarity, fear, romanticism, alienation, and clarity."

"It has pushed me as a student to know the world outside “me.” It has pushed me to see the more in many issues and situations. In completing Encounter El Salvador I actively became a man for and with others through solidarity and the experience has helped me discern my own path toward a more just and ecological consciousness."

"This trip renews my faith in the value of education and of the Jesuit mission of educating the whole person.  Combined with a liberal arts education in the traditional sense, this trip has the potential to teach students how to put what they learned in school into action to make the world a better place."

"I’m so proud to be a part of the Jesuit tradition. The role of solidarity movements and the lasting legacy of Jesuit and other faith movements for justice and liberation are so beautifully demonstrated in El Salvador."