Team El Salvador Returns, Poised to Become Stronger than Ever

Written by  //  October 3, 2012  //  Student Life  //  No comments

When the Peace Corps announced last December that they would be interrupting their program in El Salvador because of escalated concerns about security, the Monterey Institute also suspended its popular development practicum in the country. “It was heartbreaking,” says Adele Negro (MACI ’99), director of Team El Salvador, of the decision to cancel the departure of Team El Salvador 6 just days before they were scheduled to leave, “but we could not take any chances with the safety of our students.”

Adele and Professor Jeffrey Dayton-Johnson subsequently travelled to El Salvador in March to assess the security situation. They met with a number of people, such as MIIS alumnus and Peace Corps Country Director James Kuklinski (MBA ’84) and the director for security at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador. Happily, their trip came at the very time that a newly declared truce between two major gangs in the country went into effect. Based on their meetings, and with suggestions for further strengthening safety precautions, Adele and Jeff made the recommendation to resume the program.

The duo did not stop there, as they used their visit to meet with a number of governmental, international, academic, and civil-society based organizations to explore broadening Team El Salvador. “We are moving forward with this,” Adele says emphatically, and her enthusiasm is clear. Plans for assembling Team El Salvador 7 are underway.

Team El Salvador has provided 78 MIIS students with the opportunity to hone their development skills and enhance their language and multicultural competency by participating in ongoing projects in partnership with La Coordinadora and the Mangrove Association, community-based development organizations in the Baja Lempa region.

Adele is now working on incorporating new partnerships into the program and expanding it to create even greater immersive learning opportunities for students in all degree programs. The goal is to develop the capacity within the practicum to establish three-year strategic plans with the Salvadoran partners and eventually maintain an almost year-round presence in El Salvador.

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