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Spring ‘15 Class includes El Salvador trip

A street in Santa AnaHeather McBride | The Waltonian

A street in Santa Ana

The Heritage of the Church in El Salvador (course code INST216A) is a study/travel course offered in the spring semester at Eastern University on Wednesdays from 4:30-7 p.m. The course, taught by former Eastern English professor and continuing social activist Ron Morgan, studies the role of the Christian Church in the small Central American country of El Salvador during its armed conflict in the 1980s. After studying the history of these events for the first half of the semester, the class travels to El Salvador over spring break to meet with church figures, politicians, families, and individuals personally involved in or affected by the events that occurred in El Salvador.

This is not a traditional mission trip: that is, the point of traveling to El Salvador is not to offer aid or physical labor. Students travel as a historical remembrance delegation, with the intent to listen to stories that have not been heard by the rest of the world and then return to the United States to share these stories. The term “mission trip” is redefined: the mission is not to “fix” the problems of other nations, but to act as witnesses to the resilience of Salvadorans and to carry this witness back home.

(From left) Eastern students Grace Geisler, Heather McBride, Peter Herron, Alex Cromer and Elizabeth Vollmer at the Mayan ruins in El Salvador last spring.Heather McBride | The Waltonian

(From left) Eastern students Grace Geisler, Heather McBride, Peter Herron, Alex Cromer and Elizabeth Vollmer at the Mayan ruins in El Salvador last spring.

Students can expect to see a large majority of the small nation within a short amount of time. On Feb. 27, 2015, the Eastern group will fly out of Philadelphia and make its way to Santa Ana, a major city in El Salvador. Students will stay with families of Shekina, a Baptist church that works with Eastern to make these trips possible. After a few days of attending church events and meeting with local political groups and social activists (as well as sightseeing the area!), students will embark on a tour of several towns throughout the country to meet with historians, politicians, artists, religious leaders, theater groups and many more people who will tell of their experiences in the armed conflict, as well as the growth and healing that came out of the years of conflict. Students will return to Eastern on March 7, and for the rest of the semester will reflect on the experiences from the trip, as well as work on a final creative project that is meant to help them process what they have learned.

Pre-registration for the spring 2015 class began on Oct. 21, and the first installment of travel costs, $1,000, is due on Dec. 1. The final installment is due on Jan. 21, and depending on the cost of plane tickets, is between $650-850. The entire cost of the trip, $1,650-1,850, includes round-trip airfare, housing, transportation, food and a group translator.

In order to find out more information about the upcoming study/travel course, contact Ron Morgan at rmorgan1@eastern.edu.

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