2014 Stanford Delegation

2014 Stanford Delegation
Stanford Delegation in the UCA Chapel

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Adventure Begins

By McKenzie Andrews
Our group has now been in El Salvador for four days, but a day has a longer, different pace than in the United States. We landed in San Salvador on Friday night after leaving campus around 4 am, SFO at 6, and spending six hours in the Houston airport. Our group began bonding in the layover, conversing outside the formal class structure, playing improv games, and even learning some choreography to the hit song “Turn Down for What”. We got some strange looks in the airport, but it set an open, comfortable precedent.
As we drove to our hostel, one classmate whose family left El Salvador before the war commented on how he remembered the smell. The night was bright, and the stars were more visible than they are in the United States. Our hostel was colorful, and everyone was ready for bed by the time we arrived. 
Street Theater at the Romero Procession

Saturday morning we had our orientation. Getting adjusted to El Salvador means throwing your toilet paper in the trashcan rather than the toilet, and we spent time discussing what our time over the next week would look like. Our group is mixed with Spanish and non-Spanish speakers, so we’ve been lucky in having different volunteers within our group translate. That morning we met with a man who has spent over a decade working with an environmentalist group in El Salvador, and he described the gang violence in his own community. While he was talking, we could hear a band playing in a neighboring house, and the music served as a soundtrack to the words that were being translated to English.  

Lunch was at a local restaurant, and afterwards we went to a small museum that seemed to open because we showed up. A girl with braces talked to us in English, describing her love for a Salvadorian author and the culture of her country. It’s been strange to me the amount we dominate when our group comes into a space. The language switches to a less comfortable English, or we slow the speed of conversation by accompanying individuals’ words with a sometimes clumsy English translation. Even professors that speak some Spanish will ask questions in English then have a more proficient speaker translate. 

Youth Celebrating Archbishop Romero: La Lucha Sigue
Later in the afternoon, we went to a church and the neighboring little house where Oscar Romero had lived. We listened to a guide and were surrounded by Salvadorians who wore t-shirts with revolutionary quotes and faces. Our days here have been filled with activities, shuttling us from one speaker to another. We waited outside as a Mass finished inside the church, and I could see the weariness on people’s faces from the grind of traveling and little sleep in the last few days. After exploring the church, we took our bus back downtown. 

That afternoon included a procession honoring Oscar Romero, and we took our time marching down the street. A car with a loud speaker projected words remembering the archbishop of San Salvador, and a few of my classmates used a video camera to document the parade. A youth group dressed in the same white shirt with a red revolutionary quote on the back chanted the words “Romero viva, viva!” and “La lucha sigue, sigue!” as they ran up and down the street. When we finished our parade at the town square, outside the church where Romero had been assassinated years before, our group was tired and ready to head to bed. We grabbed dinner at a restaurant serving pupusas, an Salvadorian snack of maiz and queso, and then headed back to our hostel after 10. Everyone was exhausted. The next day, we left the hostel early in the morning; our adventure would continue outside San Salvador.

No comments:

Post a Comment