My Experience in the Casa de las Américas Program

El Salvador is a country that has suffered a lot over the years. It has a past full of inequality and violence, including corruption in public institutions. It is important that as citizens we do not sit idly by. We must not only focus on academic training, but on a more comprehensive education. This is where Centro Ignacio Ellacuría (CIE) plays a very important role.

My name is Kevin Cea and I am a third-year computer engineering student at UCA and a current student at CIE (Casa de Las Américas). The center has undoubtedly had a great impact on my life and the way I see things, through accompanying communities in rural areas, living with other students, and immersing myself totally in the experience of community work, such as:

  • Accompanying the community of San Bartolo through praxis with Marianita and Ana Lilian, two women leaders with a lot of experience and service to this community.
  • Spirituality and community nights, the latter being one of my favorites because it has allowed me to understand the reality of my colleagues, knowing how history has led them to be the people they are now.
  • Learning from Lolo his experience at the Sumpul River, being a survivor of the armed conflict, which was a very difficult time in El Salvador. It has made me see this historic event differently, to want justice.
  • Hearing the testimonies of Kevin and Trena, as well as the legacy of Father Dean, leaving his comforts and coming to serve, committing to change, was without a doubt something transformative for me.
  • National reality class, taught by the center, was important in my formation as we debated and learned about social, political, and cultural realities, as well as issues of leadership and discernment.
  • The day-to-day life with my fellow students, singing and giving thanks before each meal, the simplicity, and listening has made me appreciate them and love them as brothers and sisters.

The virtual modality of praxis could have been an impediment to getting the most out of the experience, however, this did not prevent us from sharing and connecting with our praxis coordinators. The fact that we worked virtually during this experience made the three face-to-face visits to the communities of San Bartolo and San Miguel Tepezontes that much more impactful. Talking and playing with the boys and girls was one of my favorite parts, as was cooking.

Now I know I have the power to start transforming the world and I have the initiative to start with my community in Sonsonate in the municipality of San Antonio del Monte, teaching mathematics to boys and girls and accompanying other communities. I feel more aligned with the Jesuit vision, changing lives through education seems to me to be the solution. Making people aware of action, and not resignation, being aware of socio-political problems and speeding up to find solutions, following the legacy of the Martyrs of the UCA.

Learn about other’s experience:

Maria Alejandra Pineda Cruz

Karen Rocío Platero Ramírez

[Webinar] Next Gen Leaders: the critical role of CIE in El Salvador’s Future

April 22nd, Earth Day: Education for a Healthy Planet


The Earth is our home, it is where we are born and we grow up, where we learn how to live and where we learn how to interconnect with all living beings. The Earth is our best school. However, our “common house” is in danger due to the overexploitation that we are putting the Earth through and as a result we are affecting our own existence.

To mark Earth Day on April 22, Friends of Fe y Alegría in the US calls to attention the critical role that education plays in our planet’s sustainability. The environmental crisis is a challenge on several levels: the socio-economic level, as it affects the poorest and most vulnerable communities and forces us to re-examine current development, economic and welfare models; the geographical and physical levels, as they effect the exhaustion of our resources and the actual limits of our planet; and the cultural level, as it challenges our lifestyles and social relationships.

Emergencies, crises and environmental degradation obstruct or block the right to education for children, youth and vulnerable adult groups. Today, more than 75 million girls, boys and young people have seen their education interrupted or destroyed by emergencies and protracted crises, many of which are aggravated by climate change.

The Adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement

While 2015 and 2016 were critical years to launch sustainable development and climate change related commitments adopted by different States, 2017 is Year-1 to implement action. In September 2015, the United Nations endorsed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, placing sustainability at the same level as poverty and inequality. Additionally, Paris hosted the COP 21 Climate Summit in December 2015, where world leaders signed a historic agreement to combat climate change and committed their countries (including the United States) to various changes, including decreasing average global temperatures by the end of this century.

The Key Role of Education achieving Sustainable Development

To complete the SDGs, education plays a key role. Environmental education involves the care of the planet as it (1) contributes to raising awareness and increasing environmental concern, (2) equips citizens for better use of global resources and (3) empowers individuals and communities to reduce their impact on the environment. Education can also encourage citizens to demand from governments environmental protection and participation in international agreements in order to achieve true sustainable development.

Education can be an instrument for vulnerable groups to prevent, adapt and mitigate disasters. What’s more, education also enhances the resilience of individuals and communities who face the effects of environmental degradation and raises their awareness on the risks caused by natural disasters and provides ideas which create abilities to face and endure these hardships.

Fe y Alegría promotes education opportunities that respect and care for the environment in each of the 21 countries we operate in around Latin America and Africa. One such opportunity can be found at Fe y Alegría La Merced, El Salvador, where an environmental education program called “Environmental Guardians“, has been implemented. The Environmental Guardians program promotes the creation of a movement of children and youth–supported by teachers–who will protect their surrounding environment. The Guardians also promote environmental education, create cohabitation among team members and create social and environmental responsibility with their local community. Among other activities, the Guardians are charged with the up-keep of school gardens and receive trainings to become tour guides for groups who visit the area. 

The full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement will be achieved if and only if all social movements, schools, teachers, families, media, companies and politicians demand a change. An articulated global collaboration is urgently required that will stimulate personal and communal change in the way we interact with Nature.

Happy Earth Day!

[This story was adapted from an article written by Sara García de Blas and Valeria Méndez de Vigo of Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría España. To read the original article in Spanish, click here.]