(para leer en español, dele clíc aquí)
Well folks, today marks José and Laurel’s first week in the US!
We are in the Phoenix airport waiting to leave for San Francisco, reflecting upon the experiences of the past week. It has been a time full of many “firsts”: José’s first time in the U.S., FUNDAHMER’s first visit to Xavier… and Laurel’s first time in a boys’ locker room!
Don’t worry, it was empty.
Our first stop was Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert California. We arrived to the airport in Los Angeles to news that the Xavier van picking us up was in traffic behind and blown-up semi truck on the highway! Those enduring souls ended up spending eight and a half hours in the school van by the time we got back to Palm Desert that evening. They welcomed us like Colón welcomes them, with homemade signs and native food: In-N-Out hamburgers. We were all grateful to get home that night… the students who came to pick us up, and Laurel and José with Stephanie, Erin and Adrian, teachers from Xavier who prepare and accompany student delegations.
For the next two and a half days, we spent time at Xavier visiting classes, meeting students, and sharing news from El Salvador and Colón. One of the most profound experiences was sharing with the students who visited El Salvador this year, hearing their reflections a couple months after returning to the U.S. and starting a new school year. They shared the care with which they recalled their immersion experience and the struggles they’ve had trying to reconcile the new realities they encountered and sharing their experience with family and friends. When we send groups back to the U.S. with Salvadorans’ stories and gift of self, we have to trust that the seeds that have been planted will give fruit; it was such an affirming experience of the work FUNDAHMER does with delegations. We also got a tour of the school, had dinner in the evenings with the teachers, and went to a volleyball game!
After a wonderful experience at Xavier, we headed over to Phoenix to spend time at Brophy, who has been sending students to FUNDAHMER for over ten years, and the Family to Family Foundation, which was founded by parents of students a few years ago to support scholarships for kids in Brophy’s sister commmunities of La Hacienda and Junquillo. We participated with Brophy students at a car wash on saturday morning and almost raised enough money for a full year of a high school scholarship! We went on a hike with Timoteo, the dedicated trip leader at Brophy, and saw the beautiful desert landscape of Arizona up close.
Yesterday, we gave presentations to theology classes at Brophy and caught up with this past summer’s delegation participants. We also had the opportunity to speak with representatives from a nearby high school and some members of the Maryknoll community about expanding FUNDAHMER’s relationships in Phoenix and possible new sister community relationships! It was also a gift to spend time with Tim’s family. Clare, and their three kids: Sam, Mary Clare, and TJ. Sam is a sophomore at Brohy, and we hope to see him soon in El Salvador!
Our next couple stops are back in California, in San Jose, to visit Bellarmine and Notre Dame high schools. We are looking forward to the visits, and thanks for everyone’s kind energy along the way!