This is the first post in a five part blog series, "Peacebuilding: A Way to End Violence Against Women in El Salvador".
On May 15, 2013, thirteen students from Emmanuel College of the University of Toronto (Canada) together with two teachers arrived in El Salvador, and were met by Chencho Alas. This group came in connection with the “Spirituality and Peacebuilding” class held in La Libertad from May 15-22.
When Chencho Alas, founder of the Mesomerica Foundation, visited the University of Toronto in Autumn of 2011 for a Religious Peacebuilding course, many students became interested in his Mesomerica Foundation and its peacebuilding initiatives. Chencho then invited the college to bring a class of students to El Salvador to learn more and study liberation theology – to experience El Salvador and see for themselves what they can learn under his tutelage.
Topics discussed in class were Latin America liberation theology, poverty, theology of peace, Mayan spirituality, environmental theology, Appreciative Inquiry method, and violence against women.
There was opportunity for the class to meet Salvadorans while in their own milieu, a chance for self-reflection and contextual analysis, a deeper introspection on the meaning of spirituality, and finding and discovering ways - new ways - of peacebuilding to help sustain programs began by Chencho Alas in El Salvador and expanded across parts of Latin America.
At the end of the trip, the individuals in the class each prepared research papers on various topics of relevance to the main idea of peacebuilding in El Salvador. There were reports written on topics that are of significance to Salvadorans such as liberation theology and violence, colonialism and post-colonialism in Latin America, mining, land use in El Salvador, ecclesial perspective of church and partnerships, indigenous people’s resistance to church rule, foreign aid to El Salvador, and violence against Salvadoran women.