When I was in college, I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a fantastic experience. I remember watching the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo march and celebrating the re-election of Carlos Menem (yes, he was still well-liked then). I got to explore Paraguay (my favorite experience if you can believe it), Brazil's Pantanal, and Peru's Inca Trail. I definitely wouldn't be doing what I am today without that study abroad experience.
However, if I were a student today and interested in Latin America, I would try my best to participate in the Casa de la Solidaridad program run by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Santa Clara University and the University of Central America.
Casa de la Solidaridad has been so successful at transforming student’s lives because the program is rooted in the integration of the four pillars: accompaniment with those who suffer most, rigorous academic study, simple community living and spirituality. Read the reflections of Casa alums and our Salvadoran partners to better understand each pillar.
“No matter what you read in books, see in pictures, hear on the news, or listen to other people say about poverty, something changes about the way you understand the world when you come to love a person who also happens to be poor. Through relationships, the Casa program teaches lessons about humanity and humility unlike any other model I know. I will never know what it's truly like to live in poverty -- but the Casa has taught me a level of understanding and appreciation that I couldn't have gained any other way. It influences my work, my relationships, my political perspective, my life priorities, and my financial decisions.” -Casa Alum Spring 2007
“Casa students come to our community to live with us in all our simplicity and poverty. This is moving for us. It’s not as if students come to see these disgraceful poor people. It’s not like they come to make a documentary of the poor in El Salvador. Casa students come and listen and learn from us. They give us concrete gestures of solidarity, accompaniment and hope. This make us feel like the human beings we are. Throughout our history, they have told us that the poor are disposable, that we are garbage and have no voice. The Casa gives us hope that another world is possible. It is not necessary to bring money. Much more important is the accompaniment with the people and the desire to live in solidarity. This is exactly what the program does.” - Lolo Guardado, praxis site coordinator, Mariona
We've had a few University of Scranton students attend the program and they absolutely raved about it. Check out the program here.