Feliz Navidad! And Happy New Year!
My apologies for a longer than usual lag in updates- I have been out of internet for some time due to holiday craziness in El Salvador....
Which of course, included some holiday craziness out in Santa Maria de la Esperanza! We wanted to celebrate life and solidarity as 2009 came to a close, so we planned a Christmas Convivio in the community, inviting other Salvadoran youth and families that have been so instrumental in delivering humanitarian aid and have given time to organizing their own communities in the reconstruction process.
The video above tells the story of a Father who lost his child. Through tears he expresses the lonliness he felt in his heart as he found his son amongst the mud that caked all of his personal belonging and his harvest for the year-his only source of income.
As he described the tragedy, he also celebrated the solidarity of this community as well as others who have come to support him and his family. For me, the hope he was able to express admist his personal tragedy was more impactful than his actue sadness. This happens alot in El Salvador- I get shocked and blinded by lights of hope i never expect to come out of the darkest corners of death, loss and suffering.
We brought a doctor (and bought tons of medicine), we brought salvadoran youth who read poetry, painted faces of the children, and danced with a drum. This was quite a low budget party- but we DID buy two pinatas and cheese to make enough pupusas for everyone. The junta directiva of Santa Maria (local governing board) pitched in with corn and beans and LOTS of women to grind corn and beans, to fry the pupusas, to make the salsa, to clean the plates of nearly 200 people. Everyone pitched in what they had, her hands, his poem, his knowledge of medicine, her ability to make children laugh and dance.
It was perfectly humble and joyful. It had food and laughter. And we celebrated solidarity and Christmas the Salvadoran way- not presents or toys or Santa. just each other and a whole lotta food and dance!
Finally, I owe a long overdue thanks to Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana. This will get personal. It is my alma mater, after all...and I dont just mean i went to highschool there- I mean Brebeuf is where I truly cultivated a love for all things social justice. If you have never been introduced to Jesuit Education, I strongly suggest you look up this amazing pedagogy (esp. if you have kids- i swear my children if i ever have them, will all go to jesuit schools). Brebeuf focuses on making its students "men and women for others." Indeed, the hallmark of a good jesuit education is based in the reality of our world- which as many of us know, is just as full of poverty and disease and corruption as it is full of family, love, and solidarity. Brebeuf taught me how to ORGANIZE. Well- really it was Father Obie, who pass away amidst teaching me how to lead the delegation of the School of the Americas protest. He was found minutes before the Indiana School of the Americas Watch meeting, which he hosted at Brebeuf. of course.
Brebeuf brought me to El Salvador the first time! It supported me and my parent's half-cracked idea of bringing a group of students on an El Salvador immersion trip. Brebeuf let us bring a group of teenangers to El Salvador, one of the most dangerous countries in the world
and Brebeuf still brings kids down to this blessed, struggling place. and of course, my little brother, with whom i had spent many an hour attempting to train him as social justice warrier, came thru. current brebeuf student michael tellman, with the support of my ever perserverant mother, rallied my alma mater to the tune of $3,500 bucks. The kids raised half the money dollar by dollar on a sweatpants day, and the alumni association matched the other half. And even more fun, they SKYPED me and mercedes. o, the joy and fire in mercedes response to the religion teacher who asked, "Why exactly are you speaking out against the Catholic Church?!?!"
I know you, Brebeuf, and I am very grateful. not just to your current generous donations, but for teaching me how to see, feel, and RESPOND to the world. To Mr. Kantz who taught me how to debate (argumentation tactics are ESSENTIAL when battling corruption and trying to organizing a social movement), Michael Christiana who helped me control my empathy and anger, Father Obie for forcing me to pay as much attention to detail of organizing as to the ethical rationale of organizing, to Mr. VanSlambrook who has never been afraid to be progressive, and to Mr. Brown who not only supported my first social justice project (guitar drive and classes at the Oaks Academy in "dodge city", the part of indy where you will most likely have to "dodge" from bullets- tho thanks to the Oaks Academy the area has much improved), but also challenged but conceptions of diversity beyond the colors that I thought I could see so clearly. there are many, many more wonderful teachers, mentors and students out there i could brag about endlessly.
O jesuit education. its not perfect, but its pretty damn good. mmm dont even get me started on Santa Clara.
Happy New Year! Go Jesuits! more updates when I get out of bed and into the field. as long as i dont have swine flu.... hehehe!
seriously michael, thanks. whatever you learn doing social justice at brebeuf will serve you more than any math, english, or spanish test you study for. reality is worth exploring and struggling with, I swear.