My name is Jessica, and I am a recent addition to the Crispaz family. I will be working in the Cincinnati office as a Long Term Volunteer, contributing to the new media aspect of the organization. Since you will be hearing a lot from me in the future, I figured I should provide you with a little background info about me so that you are more familiar with the person/voice behind the blogs. So here goes...
I am a badger. And by that I mean that I'm an alumni of Spring Hill College (Mobile, AL). I recently graduated from there in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science.
So why is this important?
I mention this because Spring Hill is what brought me to be a part of Crispaz. Every year Spring Hill provides students the opportunity to take part in an immersion trip, providing various locations in Central America to choose from, each offering a different type of experience. To be brief, I chose, and then was approved for the El Salvador trip, hosted by Crispaz. On the trip our delegation was immersed in the Salvadoran culture, where we were given the opportunity to meet with government officials, selected leaders of the community,and various organizations that work with Crispaz to learn about El Salvador's past and current state of affairs, in addition to this we were able to stay in a remote village with very hospitable host families. My experience on this trip is enough to take up its own blog-which is a possibility! However, I will keep it brief for the purpose of this blog. This was an INTENSE experience.
Ok so what?
Well it was this intensity, the intensity of El Salvador's past, the intensity in every Salvadoran's story, the intensity of the ambiguous, current state of affairs that made an impact on me. As common to many Americans, I have the "do" mindset. The mindset where you feel the need to constantly do. If there is a problem you must DO something about it. If you need or want something you must DO something to get it. Well on this trip we learned that you can't always just fly in with and answer and DO something to solve the problem. I know from experience that this is a misconceived notion that many Americans have. Because we are privileged to knowledge and money, we have to power to "make a difference". Unfortunately, this well intentioned notion has caused more of a problem than a solution in many developing nations. Including El Salvador. This problem is known as the dependency theory, where a 'periphery' of poor, under-developed states become dependent on the wealth and resources of the 'core' developed states. This theory is usually thought of as applicable to governments and the 'business end' of the economy only and not to good intentioned charity organizations. Unfortunately, the charity provided by many organizations, whether it is money, medical supplies or food etc., often creates an issue of dependency as well.
Which is what attracted me to Crispaz. It is not your typical charity organization that is always "doing" something to make a difference and unintentionally creating a relationship of dependence between the people and the organization. Rather, it is more of a facilitator that works with the Salvadoran people and encourages them to take matters into their own hands by providing connections and support through mutuality.
At first I believed that this was like the parable: give a man to fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Until I realized that the philosophy of Crispaz is a slight step above that.What I mean by this is Crispaz doesn't create a teacher-student scenario (which is initially helpful, but ultimately creates a relationship of dependency) but instead, provides a scenario more like a mentoring friend. This type of relationship allows Crispaz to work along side the people to advise, listen and help when requested and to also, step aside and let the people of El Salvador ultimately "run the show".
With that being said, even though I admire the not so hands on approach, I still was raised in the "do" mentality and cannot completely let that go. Which I think many of the people we spoke with in El Salvador realized, because at the end of our discussions they all asked us to "do" one thing- share their story.
By becoming a LTV with Crispaz, I hope to do what was asked of me, to share their story and bring more people to learn and understand what is happening in El Salvador.
So now, hopefully you will know a little bit more about the person behind the blogs.
Until the next one, God Bless =)