Eight students of THEO 422, who recently traveled to El Salvador for an immersive learning class, brought home cariño, confianza and conjunto values to the Xavier community.
Their alliterative CCC title translates to care, trust and togetherness in English.
The group traveled to El Salvador during spring break after a semester of in-class preparation. In the classroom, students read about the history of El Salvador and its civil war, as well as participated in discussion groups led by professor Marcus Mescher.
The trip was designed for students to share life and experience solidarity with Salvadorans. Students visited families and spoke with them about their living conditions and the cultural factors which led to them.
“When I interviewed for my job with members of the Theology Department in fall 2013, I was asked to describe a “dream course” I’d love to teach someday,” Mescher said. “It was a dream come true to teach THEO 422 this year.”
“Oftentimes their stories contained some of their greatest moments of fear, sorrow, or pain, and they were sharing them with us–total strangers,” exercise science major Dodi Fredericks said of her experience.
This trip was the first immersive class to take students to El Salvador, outside of the Alternative Breaks experience in the same location.
Xavier students paired up with students from Central American University (UCA) and learned about solidarity with college students as well as other Salvadorans.
“We were able to build relationships over really vast differences… even language barriers,” sophomore theology and English major Samantha Mossing said. “It was really cool because we realized that we are all just college students, and 20-year-olds will be 20-year-olds wherever you go.”
After the trip, students presented their culminating project to Father Graham. The project, which was completed remotely due to the campus closure, involves Instagram blog posts and a website.
“I think it’s really special that we were able to do that. Father Graham’s a really busy guy and we were just a class,” Mossing said. “I think that says something about Xavier and its priorities.”
Mossing noted that CCC students conveyed their experiences to Graham, and asked advice on how to further build relationships between Xavier and El Salvador.
“He’s a really wise guy,” she added.
On Instagram, the group has posted several photos and quotes from Salvadorans they met or interacted with throughout their trip. They gave their mission statement as it pertains to the world beyond Xavier.
“Our mission is to educate and empower individuals in the United States and El Salvador to create an impact in female empowerment, mental health, and immigration,” an April 21 post said.
On their project website, the group has posted videos which explain their personal experiences on the trip. Each student who traveled posted a Youtube video containing a personal impact statement.
“We had the privilege of meeting some of the strongest people I know today who welcomed us like family. I believe there’s value in immersive classes like THEO 422 where we don’t only sit and have discussions but also come together with a purpose,” junior international studies and political science major Rita Daniels said.
The site has sections devoted to El Salvadoran history, as well as blog posts made by many students involved.
CCC’s website also notes their partnership with Programa Velasco, a program that financially supports Salvadoran women. Through the site, donations can be made to Programa Velasco’s Women’s Empowerment Project.
The Women’s Empowerment Project aims to support Salvadoran women in entrepreneurial affairs. CCC is raising money to sponsor one woman for one year, which requires $2,400 in donations.
CCC is also asking students to write letters to Programa Velasco naming their support, and to Ohio Senator Rob Portman asking him to support the immigration-based DREAM Act.
Individuals interested in becoming involved with CCC’s work can contact them or donate on their web page at https://cccxavieru.wordpress.com/get-involved/.