Well, folks, the tour is over. We started at the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles on September 23, and on November 1, we touched the Altantic in Boston! We have met so many wonderful people and communities along the way, and we are grateful for a safe trip, new and strengthened friendships, and lots of reflection and joy around the sister community relationships. Many new ideas grew out of conversations along the road, around tables, or on walks with our friends in Palm Desert, Phoenix, San Jose, Portland, Raleigh, Durham, St. Louis, Champaign, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, Cauyga, New Haven, and Boston. THANK YOU, once more, to everyone!
To briefly document our last two weeks, we went to Hoban High School on the morning of October 24. Hoban is a high school in Akron, Ohio that came to visit El Salvador and the community of Guachipilín for the first time in February. We spoke to some combined Spanish classes and met with the faculty involved in organizing the trip before heading out for upstate New York. Along the way, Larry had a surprise… NIAGRA FALLS!
We spent a really lovely long weekend in Cayuga, New York with San Pedro’s sister community and getting to know the folks at Wells College! We visited some dairy farms around the county with Pablo, meeting the cows and the farmworkers, learning about their situations, and we went to a kid’s Halloween festival, fundraising for UNICEF. We went to Quaker worship Sunday morning with the community, and spoke at Wells that afternoon, to a group of students, faculty and community members. On Monday, we spoke to a couple classes at the local high school, as well as Spanish classes at Wells. It was great to reconnect with folks who have visited El Salvador over the past decade or so and talk about hopes for the future of the sister community relationship.
Our last trip with Larry, who has earned the title of “U.S. Edgardo” (Edgardo is FUNDAHMER’s stellar driver), was over to New Haven, Connecticut to speak at Yale Divinity School and the University’s Catholic Center. A group from the Catholic Center is traveling to El Salvador this March, so we shared about the country’s history and current reality.
Finally, we rolled into Boston, Massachusetts for our final stops. We had the great pleasure of being with Dan Ponsetto at Boston College, talking in our friend Steve Pope’s class and speaking to students that evening. We also had a lunch with about 25 or 30 administrators from different departments at BC to share a bit about how we receive students visit every year and to field questions. The next day, we went to Boston College High School, who first visited El Salvador in 2012 to meet administrators and speak in classes. Go Eagles!
The next day, we spoke with the folks at the Church of the Good Shepherd, longtime friends who have been visiting El Salvador and the community of El Ocotillo for many years. We shared dinner and then spoke about the community, especially the now nine (!) scholarship students that the church is working with Boston College to support. The next morning, we headed over to Littleton UCC, the church of current volunteer Amelia Wiggins, to speak about FUNDAHMER with her church community. We met her mom and grandmother, and are headed back to El Salvador with many hugs for Amelia!
Throughout our time in Connecticut and Boston, the Bozza family was a great help and support. The Bozza’s come to El Salvador every year to do a dental delegation, and we were so happy to see Ralph and Mary Lou, at their home in Farmington, CT as well as seeing Mike, Zana, their daughter Salam, and FUNDAHMER volunteer Mary Lou in Boston. They shared their homes, time, care and vehicles with us, and we even met up with a group of lawyers with Mike in Boston to talk about issues that undocumented immigrants face.
The tour may be over, but its fruits have just begun to ripen. We’ve got some new strategies for the scholarship program, moments of witness to solidarity from this side of the border, and lots of new friends we hope to see in El Salvador for the International Sister Community Retreat in March! We have also received gracious and generous donations, all of which will go directly toward the three projects we spoke about during our visits: grain purchase to mitigate effects of the drought in Morazán, the continuation of Campesino School, and support for the women’s groups in Sacacoyo, Las Mesas, and Morazán. We started an online crowdsourcing fundraiser for the duration of the tour as well, via Indiegogo, and we are still able to receive online donations for these specific projects here:
Please consider contributing a small donation – every little bit really does go a long way – or sharing the opportunity to give with your family or community.
José got to a point by the end of the tour of saying “THANK YOU, THANK YOU VERY MUCH” whenever there was silence or as we were leaving a visit, and as far as sentiments to express out of the blue go, gratitude isn’t a bad one. We are very grateful for the openness, hospitality, and care we received along this journey, and look forward to continued collaboration with each and every person and group we met.