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Today was a full day, an emotional day. Here’s the scoop, dear reader…
You know what’s weird? Hearing someone proclaim your native country to be an “imperial nation” to your face.
That’s what happened yesterday during our history of El Salvador presentation yesterday as Carlos explained how the US government has been culpable in Salvadorian oppression for decades and we heard a similar thought, in different words, today during our presentation from another man named Carlos who explained the two major problems in El Salvador, economics and violence. But let me step back for a moment because we witnessed profound images before we listened to this story.
The Red Books
Our first stop was at the University of Central America where we traveled through a museum dedicated to the martyrdom of six Jesuit priests and two women who were executed in 1989. I encourage you to read about the full story on another website, as in the meantime I want to talk about the emotions involved in seeing this museum. First, the museum was located in the offices of the Jesuit priests, meaning we learned of their lives in what was once the space where they worked their message. There were photos on the wall showing the firebombing the soldiers did to the offices, bringing home what this space once was. We saw clothing and items belonging to Rutullio Grande and Romero, plus the actual clothing the Jesuits wore as they were executed. Bullet holes were like pockmarks across the fabrics and stains of blood and other bodily fluids from the assassination that night are still clearly visible in each garment. Combined with bullet-riddled Bibles, torched paintings of Romero, and photos of the two women who were also killed, the museum was a haunting tribute to their lives. Continue reading
I’ll start off by saying the wifi internet access in our guest house isn’t doing much for us (okay, it isn’t doing anything). My posts will come as frequently as possible, pending other internet access is found here and there. And with that, on to the main event…
Our trip to El Salvador began this morning with the best sort of travel drama – airport drama. Most everyone arrived at or around 3:30am just as we planned but when we hit the lines, all of Continental’s computers went down and they couldn’t check us in. Domestic flyers? You’re all set. International flights? Not so much. After an hour’s wait or so, they rigged a manual system including hand-written ticket vouchers which we would turn in for real boarding passes at the gate once we went through security. The clock to our 5:20am flight ticked down and I didn’t get through security until 5:20am with several members of the party behind me. The flight was held, however, and everybody made it onboard just fine.
Well, almost everyone. Jenn B.’s travel drama began with a missed alarm… and a missed flight. We tracked down her cell phone number thanks to UTS student Sonja being willing to be roused out of bed at 4:00am and look it up online in the student directory, but Jenn’s phone was off and all we could do was leave messages and pray there was no emergency. Turns out Jenn knew just what to do when she woke up and made the proper calls to the Center for Global Education and is on a flight to join us tomorrow. This is an odd twist of fate for us, as she’s also bringing along a box of t-shirts we had made up for the group that got left behind through it’s own sort of odd traveling drama. Finally, with drama behind us, we got our trip underway. Continue reading
Jackie F. has passed along to me the image of the t-shirts our group will have during the trip. Click the pic to see it enlarged:
The only Spanish I know is what I learned on Sesame Street over twenty years ago. Anyone care to enlighten me on what the t-shirt reads in the comments section? (Update: translation and the shirt’s origins are in the comments. Thanks, Jackie.)
Students going to El Salvador have been assigned a handful of books to read before the trip and after the trip, each requiring a brief written reaction piece. Here’s one of mine:
Witnesses to the Kingdom: Martyrs of El Salvador and the Crucified Peoples by Jon Sobrino
A figurehead of liberation theology, Jon Sobrino is a respected theologian who’s writing about those who have gone before him who engendered both his respect and represented something profound in their theology or what they represent theologically. He’s writing about martyrs.
Rather than tour through all of the stories Sobrino tells of martyrs, I want to address his writing style and philosophy because that is what intrigues me most as a writer. With all due respect to those who have died for a cause, all I can say about reading these stories is I was struck by how I’ve never even contemplated this sort of thing to be a part of my life. I don’t know anyone who has died for a cause and I don’t know what cause I believe strongly enough in to offer my life. I’ve heard it said many parents would die for their children though perhaps I need children in order to truly understand this idea. I’m still wrapping my head around the concept of martyrdom, even after reading the stories in Sobrino’s book, though something tells me it’s going to come up more than once on the trip. With that said, exploring why Sobrino’s writing style is so powerful definitely intrigues me and is inspirational in terms of my own desire to produce better writing. Continue reading