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My Experience in El Salvador

Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011


Gary Wolf, Father of Michael Wolf Spring 2011
My main reason for visiting my son Michael in El salvador at the Casa program was somewhat selfish. I wanted to put my arms around him, see that he was well, and safe, and to to tell him that I missed him.
I did all that, but soon realized that I had missed the "bigger picture" of why he was there. Mike had told me before I arrived that this was a life changing experience for him. I soon saw why. 
Attending class with the students, I was able to see that the history, stories and struggles of an evolving culture of oppressed people, were teaching the students how to live through determination, faith and love.
Textbooks and journals play a definite role in the education of the students, but guest speakers provide historical experiences and perspectives of a very dramatic and brave history that is more like a "living book". It created an introspective look at life and social injustice that would leave you speechless.
And then there's Sister Peggy. With a lifetime of hands-on experience working with the Salvadoran people, she unravels theology and helps you to think about, and understand, the meaning of God, without a biased agenda. Enlightening, challenging and absolutely thought provoking. She is a brilliant scholar but also a regular person.
The students' accompaniment at the praxis sites gives authenticity to the program, by creating a bond between each student and the family they spend time with. I'm not qualified to describe the experiences that the students gain from their participation with the families, but I did observe a spirituality and love that has found a forever place in their hearts. I can say that my son Michael has learned to examine his own life and to better understand how to be more truthful to himself and compassionate to others.
The students in this program seem to gel so well together. I'm not sure if the Casa program helps make that happen, or that the caliber of students who choose to participate in this program are just special. I have to believe it's a combination of both. 
We were fortunate to be able to participate in a vigil for Archbishop Oscar Romero, honoring the anniversary of his assassination. All of the students, the families visiting them, and their university leaders and instructors took part in a city-wide celebration of his impact on the people of San Salvador. A very moving experience for all.
Michael is already exploring other worthwhile programs like the Casa de la Solidaridad experience.