Faculty-Staff Immersion Trip: A Week in El Salvador
The 2016 faculty-staff immersion trip saw a group of seven faculty and five administrative staff travel to El Salvador during the first week of January.The trip was part pilgrimage to the site of the 1989 assassination of six Jesuits, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, at the University of Central America (UCA) and to the tomb of Archbishop (now Blessed) Oscar Romero.
Through visits to a rural village and an art and peace center and in meetings with artisans and representatives of the major political parties, our group learned about the social-political, cultural-religious, and economic reality of El Salvador in the aftermath of the country’s civil war of the 1980’s. Although the war ended with Peace Accords in 1992, polarization remains, reflected in divergent attitudes between those who venerate Romero and the assassinated Jesuits as martyrs of faith, and those who, during the war years, branded them as communists for their strong adherence to Gospel values in their commitment to the poor.
The immersion trip also provided an opportunity for participants to look at El Salvador’s contemporary problems of emigration and gang violence and, in this context, to consider the impact of current and past U.S. policies on a developing country. The global dimension of the trip was enhanced by a daylong visit to the UCA, where the group enjoyed the hospitality of the president, Andreu Oliva, S.J., compared notes with UCA faculty and staff on the common mission yet distinctive features of Jesuit universities, and explored areas of collaboration between our two institutions.
Faculty-staff immersion trips, sponsored by the Mission and Ministry Office, cut across campus silos. The 2016 participants (pictured above with UCA colleagues) included Bryant Alexander, Matt Bazar, Bob Caro, S.J., Branden Grimmett, Jamie Hazlitt, Emily Jarvis, Ivan Montiel, Anna Muraco, Jeanne Ortiz, Andy Rohm, Greg Ruzzin and Tom Ward. In his swansong as director of Global Ignatian Academic Initiatives, Patrick Furlong guided the group as logistics coordinator; Katie North was student assistant.
Participants in the 2017 Faculty-Staff Immersion Trip will travel to Nicaragua May 13-20.
Photos courtesy of: Matt Bazar, ITS Manager