Jul
11

A Whole World of Salvadoran Scholarship and Art

In eighteen days I will be flying to a small country only 941 mi away from the equator: El Salvador. It will be my first time going back to my parents’ homeland in about eight years. When I was a child, we would go frequently. However, due to increased gang activity, corrupt government officials, and crime, my parents have been afraid to let their children travel back to their country. The media coverage on El Salvador doesn’t alleviate their thoughts either; the news about El Salvador is always about MS-13, criminals, and migrants. However, in the past couple of weeks I’ve discovered a new Salvadoran Scholarship I wish I could have had access to a long time ago. It all began when I posted my CC video on Facebook. Strangers poured into my inbox to let me know how happy they felt that there was scholarship being done on their heritage and their culture. While on one hand I was happy to connect to so many Salvadoran-Americans, I knew why they felt the need to reach out.

Sadly, Central America is rarely ever discussed in our curricula here in the US. It wasn’t until college that I took a class that briefly mentioned something about Guatemala. I began responding to these people and discovered an entire collective of Salvadoran (both from the diaspora and from the homeland) writers, artists, and thinkers that existed on Facebook! They welcomed me with open arms, offered to help in any way they could. Willy Palomo and Janel Pineda, both academics and writers, reached out to me to offer a reading list of Central American scholarship, scholarly texts, creative novels, and art that might be the point of departure for my project. I’m so incredibly grateful that I was able to make these connections. I feel so supported now that I know there are people doing this work all around the world. There are people attempting to shine a light on Salvadoran (and generally Central American) history, culture, civil studies, and art. There’s even an art movement called “Somos Arte“* that spotlights various areas of contemporary Salvadoran artists, chefs, designers, etc. both in the US and in El Salvador.

Moving Forward…

I’m beginning the reading list with contemporary Salvadoran poet, Javier Zamora. Zamora is known for his book Unaccompanied about his journey to the US as an unaccompanied minor (at the age of 9) and his struggle to keep memories of home in the US. You can read more about him and his book here.

I am counting down the days left for my departure. My mouth salivates for its native fruit and delicious, unprocessed food. Yet, I’m also nervous and cannot pretend that the news headlines do frighten me. However, I have faith that the headlines exaggerate and that the humble people of El Salvador are still the people I remember from my childhood: welcoming, hospitable, friendly, loud, hilarious, and some of the best cooks.

*Donate here to support Somos Arte, the creative movement of El Salvador!

Thanks for reading!

aec

 

Comments

  1. Hello! I was not working with any group of organization in ES that would connect me to people only because the civil war in this country did not happen so long ago so most people past their early 30s have vivid memories of war time. Thus, I could have asked just about anyone in my family or family’s network and they could have provided me an authentic interview. However, what I came to find is that most of the time, I didn’t have to ask people questions. People still actively remember the war and some way or another memories and stories of the war were brought up in conversation and compared to ES’s current sociopolitical landscape. It was a really interesting experience.

  2. pwvolante says:

    This journey sounds like it will be an amazing opportunity! The idea of being a historian that gathers people’s stories to show how certain events shaped them and their country is a powerful concept. Are you working with some contacts or an organization in El Salvador that are going to help you take your first steps there in terms of finding people to interview? I hope you are having a nice time!

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