A typical week with a U.S. student group
- by Louis Lopez
The first day of a group's arrival in Guarjila is the welcoming and group presentations. The American students pair off and then meet and move into the Tamarindo family's house that they will stay at for the week. That night there is a bonfire and everyone circles around for introductions. We spend a couple of hours telling stories and getting to know each other over dinner and games.
The second day we give them a tour of Guarjila, visiting the places and projects that are important to our way of life, so that the students get a better idea of where they are and can familiarize themselves with the area. This day is really about sharing our community with them. The afternoon is usually spent at either the elementary or high school and visiting older family members of the Tamarindos who love to share their stories.
The rest of the days vary from group to group but usually include - a night of camping at the Sumpul River (where Salvadorans were massacred trying to escape into Honduras); traveling to the martyr sites throughout the country (including those of the U.S. churchwomen, Romero, Rutilio Grande, the Jesuits, the museum in Morazan, the massacre of Mozote, among others); trips to historical and significant places during the war; competitive game nights; soccer, softball, and kickball games; retreat and reflection nights; and then to wrap up the week, everyone participates by planning a community mass.
The time we spend with each group is so memorable that we end up telling stories of delegation visits long after groups have left. I believe that both sides benefit from the immersion experience and it is important to continue these relationships long into the future.