Encounter EL Salvador is an international immersion program that has partnered with CRISPAZ, Christians for Peace in El Salvador, which was founded in 1984. As quoted in CRISPAZ mission statement:
“We are a faith-based organization dedicated to the mutual accompaniment with the church of the poor and marginalized communities in El Salvador. In building bridges of solidarity between communities in El Salvador and those in our home countries, we strive together for peace, justice, and human liberation. As an organization, we are politically non-partisan and committed to nonviolence.”
Participants learn from the Salvadoran people about their lives, histories and hopes for the future. It is a 10-day trip that offers the opportunity to explore a different reality while focusing on a theme chosen by the group. Participants learn directly from the Salvadorans about issues such as the impact of war, economic and trade issues, U.S. foreign policy and a tradition of liberating faith. The focus of the delegation is not only to develop a greater knowledge of El Salvador as a whole, but also to develop an understanding of the people and to build relationships, as well as to make connections to current reality.
The group is housed in a “guest house.” These are special large houses founded just to house delegations such as ours. They provide safe water and drinks as well as all home-made cooking that is healthy and safe. The accommodations are simple but very comfortable. There is access in the house for e-mail so you can be in contact with family and friends. We spend all but one weekend in San Salvador, the capital, where we engage with many groups in our education. From a Friday to a Sunday, we spend time in a rural setting, living and learning from the people. In the town, we break up into groups of 2 and spend the nights with different families. During the day we get to visit with community organizations. The 10 days are intense but very eye opening.
We are refreshed through it all by experiencing the incredible hospitality and generosity of the Salvadoran people.