This is a blog for the Stanford delegation to El Salvador, a travel immersion experience for the students of the "Issues in Liberation" class. We are here to listen and to learn and to bear witness to the suffering of the people of El Salvador and the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Presente! We welcome posts and comments.
2014 Stanford Delegation
Stanford Delegation in the UCA Chapel
Thursday, March 27, 2014
The Adventure Begins
By McKenzie Andrews
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
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.
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.