Santa Clara University

Casa de la Solidaridad


My Experience in El Salvador


By Bridget Spotts· Michelle's mom, Casa Spring 2014 student

Our daughter Michelle has always wanted to study abroad and the Casa de la Solidaridad program seemed to meet all her desires. It was a bonus to find that there was a Family Week where we could visit and get a taste for the program. As Michelle’s semester began and we saw through our Skype visits we had with her what a profound impact her semester was having, Ken and I grew even more eager to visit.

What I didn’t expect was to learn so much. I knew the history of the civil war in El Salvador but this week put together the pieces in a more comprehensive way. More importantly it put together the pieces in a human way. 

“There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried” ― Oscar A. Romero

We did not realize that we were going to have an opportunity to learn of the struggles that some of the Salvadorans had faced. I never would have imagined that people would be willing to share such intimate pain with relative strangers. It rendered me unable to speak or respond in any way, yet I felt tied to them. Without presuming to grasp the complexities of their reality, the pain I felt led me to understand the Body of Christ in a way I never have before.

Oti led a meditation. It was beautiful hearing her strong voice leading us through the river of our lives. I experienced a strong reaction, which I can only understand as a healing through the meditation which led me to tears. I was embarrassed. My experience of pain is nothing compared with what the Salvadorans have faced, yet my tears were not met with disdain. Rather, they were met with love and acceptance. God’s love was flowing from Oti and Lolo as tangibly as I have ever experienced. Tears were not the end of the story however. The afternoon was filled with hospitality, love, laughter and joy—much joy. The most remarkable realization of all was how through laughter and tears the wonderful families who had welcomed us into their homes were living the Gospel in the most complete manner imaginable.

The week flowed on with more experiences, more learning. Our appreciation for Kevin and Trena is off the charts; they are such an inspiration in the way they live their lives of faith. We have such gratitude and love for Lolo, Aida, and Oti for sharing their love, experiences with us and welcoming Michelle into their family.