Friday, March 11, 2011

Letter from El Salvdor: Day One- Scholarship Youth Assembly

      February 20th to March 4th, twenty-four high school juniors and seniors along with five teachers from the Northwest School in Seattle Washington joined SHARE for a thirteen-day delegation. The Northwest School has strong roots in social justice, and has been in partnership with SHARE and our sister organization UCRES for several years now. For the past two weeks, Northwest students had the opportunity to interact with Salvadorans their age who are active leaders in their communities, to meet with members of various organizations working towards justice in many areas, to visit the community of Huisisilapa and stay with families, and to travel to Cabañas to learn the latest in the struggle against mining, amongst other things. During the delegation, the teachers wrote home to the students' parents every couple of nights to share events and emotions. One night, one of the students wrote the letter home. Over the next few days we will share excerpts of her letter.

For the first excerpt, on February 26th, the delegation spent the morning with high school and college students who SHARE and sistering groups like Northwest support in their studies and leadership development lead by UCRES, one of SHARE's counterparts.

UCRES, or the Union of Rural Communities of Northern San Salvador and La Libertad, UCRES was founded in March of 1991 when refugees and displaced communities living in the neighboring countries of Honduras and Nicaragua and in other areas of El Salvador decided to return to their places of origin. UCRES became the representative of these communities in the Northern zone of San Salvador and La Libertad. These communities organized with the goal of advocating for respect for civil and political rights and to be considered for development programs. UCRES works with 34 communities in the municipalities of San Pablo Tacachico, El Paisnal, Aguilares, and Guazapa.

UCRES scholarship youth assembly
Hello all-

     For the first time this trip, the email sent to all curious and potentially worried parents is written from the perspective of a student traveler, one of your very own children. Many others besides myself I’m sure would be very excited to write to you all, and I am honored to be doing so now.

     The past three days have been rich; full of cultural, personal, and factual exchange. On the 27th (Saturday), our group was allowed the honor of attending the UCRES student scholarship gathering in Augilares. We had been hosting two of the very same students for the previous two days, and it was very interesting to see their peers, many of whom are close to us in age. Beyond simply seeing the other students, we did a variety of activities that allowed us to all get to know one another. In small groups of various students, from both Northwest and El Salvador, we shared what we enjoy doing, what challenges we face day to day, and our hopes for the future.

     I especially enjoyed this part of the activity because I found, like many others, that our group and the scholarship students shared many of the same dreams: to go to university, have a family, and to learn as much as possible, among others. After the exchange, each small group presented to everyone present. It became obvious that we found ourselves reflected within these students that we had never met before, that spoke a different language, and more obviously, we found our differences. It is our differences that make us unique, and sharing some of the variation in activities we enjoy, as well as challenges we face in our everyday lives, was enlightening.

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