I love to visit the archaeological sites in El Salvador. El Tazumal is my favorite because I learned lots about the indigenous culture in El Salvador, how they lived, and their economic relationship with other indigenous groups in Guatemala and Mexico.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
We use Popular Education techniques in classes, which requires both students and teachers to learn together at the same time. This means we are continuously improving our culture of solidarity across borders and cultures.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Laura was a Spanish student who came a few years ago. She knew a little about El Salvador through her roommate in college. She wanted to know more and studied Spanish and taught English as a volunteer. She was very smart and learned quickly, always wanting to learn more about life in rural El Salvador. When she could communicate better in Spanish, she started to visit more communities in the department called La Paz and build friendships with these communities. The following year she returned again to create a NGO and continue studying Spanish. The NGO helps improve access to clean water in these communities. She was inspiring and it was fun to watch her learn and grow.
Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
Most underrated destination: Visiting towns which still conserve indigenous traditions and values in El Salvador such as Panchimalco or Izalco. Most overrated destination: I can't think of any!
What unique qualities does your company possess?
Our class format allows us to be flexible to students' needs and wants. We can adjust classes to include certain social or grammar topics that students want to learn. We also offer an afternoon program which takes students out of the classroom in the afternoon to important cultural and historical sites. This allows true immersion of students in Salvadoran culture and language.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think the biggest factor at the CIS, is our experience. We have over 20 years experience as a school teaching Spanish. We also work directly with rural communities in El Salvador which helps us to better understand the current reality of people and share that with our students.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.
I feel proud every time I see a student communicate better with others. I also feel proud when I see people have increased their consciousness regarding El Salvador and social justice. I get to see people change their opinions and grow as human beings.