Unexpected Revelations

  • While facilitators anticipated that most of the participants would not prefer the term “Salvadoran,” (a label that is often presented as the sole and correct label for salvadoreños by non-membersin spite of more common usage and preference for Salvadorian by community members) they were surprised that one participant had never even heard the term (vs. Salvadorian)
  • Surprised by the variety of stances around the current president in El Salvador, and politics in El Salvador; this directly contrasted to very similar stances in American politics
  • How galvanized the group was to see this evolve into actionable next steps and into community projects
  • Creating community was a recurring topic. The collective yearning to connect with other Salvadorians in an explicitly cultural context, and how validated everyone felt by this experience
  • Participants’ ideas about project direction

From the outset, participants questioned where this project would lead. There was a collective desire to see the project culminate in a program or project(s) that would benefit the Salvadorian community. IWA was asked, point blank, what the return on investment would be. This was somewhat surprising because facilitators did not expect to encounter such a pronounced need for an explicit outcome since the project had been framed as more of an exploration. Facilitators endeavored in their response to strike a balance between not promising something they could not deliver while still honoring the group’s intention to see the dialogue segue into an actionable next phase.

Several ideas were proposed throughout the course of the discussion. The initial idea proposed was to create a compendium of resources for the Salvadorian community that would facilitate accessing and navigating resources [e.g. where is the Salvadorian consulate?]. A participant raised questions such as, “What does a Salvadorian person need after immigration? What do I want as a Salvadorian-American?” Such questions again point to resource scarcity or lack of a centralized, accessible source for assistance when integrating into and navigating life in the United States. This came up again several times when personal experiences in schooling were discussed. There was not enough knowledge around school curricula, and there was a lack of knowledge around the preparatory steps needed in order to access higher education.

The group also discussed the importance of developing programming that supports communities back in El Salvador and creates sustainable income streams. Reducing the need for remittances would increase the ability of Salvadorians in the United States to succeed economically. This is an immediate obstacle to the building of generational wealth, and in turn to the overall flourishing of the Salvadorian community in the United States and El Salvador.

Other ideas discussed were:

  • Legal support – immigration, notario fraud
  • Spanish language education
  • Youth mentorship – sense of possibility, preparing for life
  • Access to childcare
  • COVID-19 misinformation, lack of buy-in around vaccination
  • Creating a podcast that features discussions around current events, community issues, identity and related topics.
  • A YouTube channel with travel content that presents a positive and nuanced representation of the community
  • Oral history art project
  • Projects that support artists in the community and make art accessible to youth
  • A center that offers access to the arts, legal aid, mental health resources, and indigenous cultural learning/workshops
  • Social media to support any of the aforementioned in the form of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts.