The Foundation for Cultural Exchange was founded by a group of students and community members who traveled to El Salvador in June 2004. They were led by the late Professor David Harmon as part of a two-week Mesa State College Sociology course. The group was so impacted by the generosity, resilience, and love they experienced in the small community they visited that upon returning to the Grand Valley, they petitioned the Grand Junction City Council to adopt El Espino as the city’s official sister city and incorporated the Foundation for Cultural Exchange. El Espino became Grand Junction’s sister city in September of 2005.
Since that first trip, the FCE has led annual cultural immersion trips to the country, established a high school and university scholarship program for youth in and around El Espino, implemented an annual spay/neuter campaign for the community’s dogs and cats, funded community development projects, and provided disaster relief.
The FCE is actively engaged with youth and community leaders in El Espino, listening and responding to the needs of the community and empowering its citizens to be the architects of their own development. We practice a model of service through humility and do not promote paternalistic aid and mission trips, “voluntourism,” or charity. To learn more about our philosophy, check out this blog post by FCE President, Anna Stout.