Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS)
99% Rating
(8 Reviews)

Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS)

The CIS is a multi-faceted grassroots organization with many programs supporting education, organizing, and social justice. We are looking for people committed to solidarity and social justice to participate in our programs.

We have a Spanish School, an English School, and grassroots programs such as: Access to clean water, Scholarship and Youth Formation, Women's Small businesses, A Fair Trade Store and Election Observation.

Most Recent Program Reviews

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Hailey
Female
24 years old
Durant, Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma

Before starting a real job, I needed to leave the US

10/10

I came to Central America to learn some Spanish and gain teaching experience. I just finished my undergraduate in international business and entrepreneurship in December, so I planned to have more international experience before settling down into a real job in the States.

Initially I felt the website was a little sketchy and was weary of a scheme to get me out of $100, so I e-mailed and talked to the staff a little bit before filling out the application. I loved that CIS has language exchange and works with local entrepreneurs and took the risk. I am generally against paying to volunteer and CIS allows the freedom to pay for housing/meals on your own, so I appreciate that. I'm glad I found this program, and would have not preferred it any other way. I have made great friends here, gotten a little bit of a tan, and have accomplished what I came here to do.

Teaching has been a great learning experience. I am always nervous speaking in front of groups, but I have grown close to my students and have enjoyed conversing about social issues with them. I spend an hour or two prepping each class and 3 evenings teaching a week.

Overall this experience has been wonderful! Everything has exceeded my expectations. I have been able to live in El Salvador for a lot less than if I were still in Oklahoma, the discounted Spanish course is great. I'm in a class with only one other student. The weather here (in Jan-Mar at least) is perfect with no humidity. There are beaches, volcanoes, bars, and good food to stay entertained while here. The group goes on many excursions which are around $20-30 a weekend for the ones further away.

How can this program be improved?

I would have preferred a little more structure or guidance on what to teach, but the program is working on this.

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Dulany
Female
67 years old
Boston, MA
University of Central Florida

I learned so much!

10/10

I loved having classes that focused on learning about what's happening here today. Having current events be the core of language instruction was terrific: I could take my questions about El Salvador to class, and I could take what I learned in class and use it outside of school - watching TV, in the news, visiting other parts of the country and talking with Salvadorans.

I studied Spanish in the mornings and taught English 3 evenings a week. A couple of afternoons a week were set aside for field trips to places in or near San Salvador, led by a faculty member. Several weekends had optional excursions to more distant parts of El SAlvador, so there was a lot of opportunity to get to know El Salvador more.

How can this program be improved?

It was great to be so immersed, but at the same time I could have used a little more free time during the week to do my own wandering. Next time, I'll leave a little space at the end of my stay to do just that.

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Maria
Female
28 years old
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton University

Experience of a lifetime

10/10

I travelled to El Salvador to study Spanish spring of 2013. It was amazing, the people will always have a place in my heart as they are the kindest I've met. The instruction is top notch and gives you such a good understanding of not only the language but the country itself. At CIS I never felt unsafe, and I made some amazing friends while in the country so I never had a moment of boredom. I would recommend the program to anyone.

How can this program be improved?

there really isn't one thing that stands out to me that I would change. I loved the classes, the cultural program in the afternoons, and the people at CIS.

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Katy
Female
25 years old
Canton, NY
Le Moyne College

An incredible program!

10/10

I’ve been back in Upstate New York for seven months, and not a day goes by where I don’t think about El Salvador. My stay was five weeks, and split between an internship with Foundation Cristosal and Spanish language classes at the CIS. Just last week, one of my graduate courses assigned me to bring an “object that represents climate to you” to class that describes a place where the work climate was very positive and the leadership was strong. I brought my backpack I purchased at the CIS because I can think of no other organization I’ve been involved with that so strongly values its mission (solidarity and exchange) and the experience each individual has there. For starters, the CIS staff is unbelievably dedicated. My teacher Wilmer spent a week riding miles on his bike just to get to our class (for which at that point, I was his only student) when the public transit system was shut down in a paro forzado. Everyone was so welcoming, patient, and kind at the CIS. On my final day, they even had a going away party with snacks, certificates and gifts! When I tell people about the CIS, I often say that I learned more Spanish in five weeks there than I did in six years of language classes in the United States. If you want to learn Spanish quickly and correctly, look no further than the CIS!
Additionally, the host family the CIS connected me with was absolutely wonderful. Roberto, Ivonne, and their children made me feel so welcome, fed me the most delicious food, and made sure that if I was feeling under the weather that I was comfortable. I still keep in touch with them, and really appreciated having a family to stay with that made me feel so welcome in their home.
Outside of the classes, highlights of my time with the CIS included the trip to the University of El Salvador when we were learning about the massacre of 1975, and a trip to Cinquera. The trip to UES was really special because it allowed me to see what college life is like in El Salvador compared to my own experience, and learn about how passionate the students at this institution still are about social justice. It was really amazing to be there on the anniversary date of the massacre and participate in the activities (performances, poetry readings, and art displays) the students put on. The trip to Cinquera was a weekend trip that included a hike in the cloud forest, visits to an iguana farm and artisan jeweler’s shop, and a trip to a nearby town to commemorate the 1984 massacre that happened there. On the anniversary of the massacre, our group, along with several dozen townspeople, marched on the main road to the town chanting, singing, and holding candles. To me, Cinquera was the perfect representation of solidarity and taught me so much more about the history of El Salvador, its politics, the Civil War, and the true compassion Salvadorans have for their country, ancestors, and one another.
So needless to say, I’m pretty passionate about El Salvador because of my experience with the CIS. When I encourage friends to go, one of the first responses I always get is nervousness about the security situation in the country. I can say with complete confidence that I never felt in danger in my time there. I simply did as I was told by the Salvadorans who live there – try not to travel alone, don’t travel with valuables, don’t wear flashy jewelry, use taxis at night…etc. - the same safety precautions I use at home. I know that reading the news can definitely make you anxious to go (I know it did for myself and my family before I got there) but missing out on such an enriching experience for something that won’t be an issue if you adhere to the guidelines would be a huge loss. The CIS makes sure that you are safe, have a good experience, and learn a lot about this amazing and beautiful country. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to return to El Salvador and work with the wonderful people at the CIS!

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Dulany
Female
67 years old
Boston, MA
University of Central Florida

a great way to learn Spanish

10/10

I loved having classes that focused on learning about what's happening here today. Having current events be the core of language instruction was terrific: I could take my questions about El Salvador to class, and I could take what I learned in class and use it outside of school - watching TV, in the news, visiting other parts of the country and talking with Salvadorans.

I studied Spanish in the mornings and taught English 3 evenings a week. A couple of afternoons a week were set aside for field trips to places in or near San Salvador, led by a faculty member. Several weekends had optional excursions to more distant parts of El Salvador, so there was a lot of opportunity to get to know El Salvador more.

How can this program be improved?

It was great to be so immersed, but at the same time I could have used a little more free time during the week to do my own wandering. Next time, I'll leave a little space at the end of my stay to do just that.

Program Listings

El Salvador

Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS)
The mission of the Centro de Intercambio y Solidarity (the CIS) is to promote solidarity and exchange across borders between...

El Salvador

Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS)
Come to the CIS and learn Spanish while discussing Salvadoran history, culture and social justice. We offer homestays, group...