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Solidarity and Stewardship in El Salvador
Written by Alumna Rose Lassalle-Klein ’13
My name is Rose Lassalle-Klein and I graduated in 2013 from SJND. I then moved to Seattle, WA to pursue a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology at Seattle University. My first year, I participated in a medical mission trip to Accra, Ghana. I began to explore opportunities in biomedical research, but the world of academia proved difficult to combine with a set of values based on solidarity and stewardship that were planted by my experience at SJND.
During my second year, SU granted me funds to travel to El Salvador to participate in the 25th celebration of lives of the UCA (Universidad Centroamericana) Martyrs. It was on this trip that I discovered Casa de la Solidaridad, a study abroad program based in San Salvador that combined rigorous study at the UCA with real-world solidarity experience through semester-long praxis (volunteer) placements. I left in July 2015 for my six month stay in El Salvador. I participated in Casa de la Solidaridad’s Summer Public Health program and took classes while working full time in a government-funded clinic. After the summer ended, I volunteered for a month in Suchitoto, El Salvador at Centro Arte Para la Paz (Art Center for Peace) teaching painting, yoga, drawing and English conversation. Finally, I completed my semester with Casa, studying at the UCA again and working on women’s farming cooperative in rural town Santa Maria de la Esperanza.
As I reflect on my college experience thus far, I am struck by the turn in my consciousness that resulted directly from my extended stay in El Salvador. Higher education is a privilege (among many others) awarded to a small group of citizens during this time. My teachers, my family, my community and most importantly, providence have all played a role in creating opportunities in my life. I truly believe it is until we take time to consciously engage in praxis (meaning practice, as distinguished from theory) that we come to understand how said opportunities can be put at the service of others. If you’ve made it to the end of this profile, I congratulate you, but more importantly I encourage you to take a moment from your life to engage with the reality of the world. This can be through study abroad, vocation, voting in the next election, or earnest conversation. Thank you for your time, and thank you to the SJND/SJES community for the opportunities you have offered us children!