The FCE leads yearly cultural immersion trips to El Salvador for people of all ages and walks of life. Participants stay with host families in the Sister City community, peer into the crater of a volcano, tour an organic fair trade coffee cooperative, meet with community leaders, visit the site of the 1989 Jesuit massacre, tour the art workshop of El Salvador’s most famous artist, Fernando Llort, pay respects at Archbishop Oscar Romero’s house and tomb, eat lots of pupusas, host an authentic atolada, volunteer at the local school, participate in many activities with our Sister City community and MUCH MORE! If you are interested in participating in our next delegation, please contact us for more information. The trips typically last 10 days and cost approximately $1,800, which includes all expenses. See a sample itinerary below!
Day 1 – Travel day to San Salvador, arriving late evening. After settling into the Guest House, Hostal San Jose, we will visit an area of the capital city up on a hill with a lookout over the city and eat a traditional Salvadoran dinner of pupusas.
Day 2 – We will wake up and have an authentic breakfast at the Guest House and then head to CIS (Center for Exchange & Solidarity) for an orientation of the current situation in El Salvador. The latter part of the morning will be divided between an ancient ruins site called the Joya de Ceren, which has been called the Pompeii of the Western Hemisphere, and driving to the top of a volcano right in the middle of the capital. After lunch, we will have an audience with prominent and renowned Salvadoran artist, Fernando Llort at his art gallery/workshop “Arbol de Dios.” For dinner we will learn how to prepare traditional Salvadoran cuisine in a cooking class at the guest house.
Day 3 – After an early breakfast at the Guest House, we will depart for Grand Junction’s Sister City community of El Espino. The community will be awaiting us at the Casa Comunal (Community Center) to host the bienvenida, or welcoming ceremony, with artistic performances by the students, words of welcome by community leaders and recipients of FCE scholarships, and a meal prepared by the women of the community to be shared by all. After lunch, we will distribute participants with their host families and allow everyone some time to get comfortable and begin to get to know each other. To give our host families time to prepare dinner, we will visit the homes of our newest scholarship students. In the evening, participants will return to their host families to share a meal and spend the rest of the evening together.
Day 4 – Participants will share a traditional breakfast with their host families and then will be picked up to be taken to the school to distribute school supply and book donations and play interactive English games with the high school students. We will wrap up the school day with an exciting game of soccer with the students. Before returning to our host homes, we will visit the local women’s cooperative and have the opportunity to sample and purchase artisan wines made of local products like orange, hibiscus flower, and rice. And finally, dinner and down time with our host families!
Day 5 – Today affords us the opportunity to take an outing with leaders of the community, the scholarship students, and a member of each of our host families. We can spend the day at the beach, visit the colonial lakeside town of Suchitito, or the mountain town of Cinquera, a Christian Base Community that was hit hard by the civil war, depending on the group’s preference. The day will conclude with dinner with our host families.
Day 6 – We will first attend mass at the Sister Parish (for those who choose to) at 6am and eat pupusas at a local pupusería. After mass, everyone will return home and prepare a traditional Salvadoran dish with their host family, then gather together for an exhibition of the dishes and to share food with the scholarship students and their families. After an afternoon of food and fun, the rest of the day will be spent with the host families at home.
Day 7 – This will be our final day with the community. We’ll spend the morning at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine/Lake Ilopango Overlook in neighboring Cojutepeque and we will wrap up our stay with a despedida, or good-bye ceremony. We’ll host a traditional pupusada (pupusa party) with all of the scholarship students and their families, the mayor, and other community leaders. Delegates will return to their host homes to prepare their bags for tomorrow’s departure and spend a final evening with their host families.
Day 8 – We’ll depart the community early and return to the capital. Our first stop will be the Hospital of the Divine Providence, where Oscar Romero lived and gave mass. A nun will give us a tour of the chapel and his humble home. Then we will visit the Rose Garden Memorial at the Universidad de Centroamérica, the Jesuit University that was the site of tragic assassinations at the tail end of the war. After lunch at the university cafeteria, we will tour the San Salvador Cathedral that houses Romero’s tomb. Finally, we’ll have time to shop at the quaint and colorful artisan market before returning to the guest house for dinner.
Day 9 – For our last day in San Salvador, we will tour a coffee cooperative in Santiago Texacuangos and share a delicious home-cooked lunch with the members of the cooperative. We will meet with Alicia Morales, former president and late wife of a founding member of the Cooperative and hear her remarkable story. Then we will walk through one of the coffee plantations and have the opportunity to purchase organic fair trade coffee. We’ll have dinner in historic Antiguo Cuscatlán before heading back to the guest house to prepare for the trip home.
Day 10 – Travel day home.