A Learning Journey to El Salvador: Reports from the Field, Day 1

Today’s the day. I’m sitting in the airport (on Barbra’s computer) about to board a flight to El Salvador. We are embarking on a learning journey – which means that our goal for the next five days is to learn as much as we can, and then share that learning with everyone back home.

(From left to right) Ari Weisbard, Yvonne Johnson, Travis Dupree, Barbra Kavanaugh, Hannah Kane, and Howard Mayo prepare for takeoff to El Salvador!

(From left to right) Ari Weisbard, Yvonne Johnson, Travis Dupree, Barbra Kavanaugh, Hannah Kane, and Howard Mayo prepare for takeoff to El Salvador!

Sitting with me are my five traveling companions who will be joining me on this amazing learning journey. Barbra Kavanaugh – the EJC’s Executive Director, whose enthusiasm for connecting systemic issues with direct services is unparalleled. Ari Weisbard – EJC’s Deputy Director, who brings his infallible logic and critical thinking to the table. Yvonne Johnson – a worker activist with the EJC, who is a tireless advocate for herself and any other worker she encounters who is suffering abuse at the workplace. Howard Mayo – a retired worker activist with the EJC, who always brings a unique perspective about why an injustice to one worker anywhere is an injustice to all workers everywhere. Travis Dupree – a community organizer with OUR DC, who lives and breathes his community’s struggles for jobs that pay a living wage and that will help them not just to survive, but to thrive. And of course, myself, Hannah Kane – employment justice organizer with the EJC.

All in all, we’re a pretty fantastic bunch.

We’ve been up since about 4:30am, so we’re looking pretty ragged at this point. But before I pass out on the plane (probably before we even take off), I wanted to share a few thoughts about why I am going on this learning journey to El Salvador and what I hope to learn.

1. I am going on this journey because I hope to learn more about the impact of globalization. I want to know how globalization has led so many immigrant workers in DC, around the country, and around the world to choose the perilous journeys they take and the hard lives they often lead. I want to know how globalization affects our organizing and advocacy work, and how the unfettered, free movement of goods and corporations (if not people – I am privileged to be able to travel so freely through the world) across borders affects the ability for workers to organize in the US and in the District.

2. I hope to learn how my role as a white American community organizer fits into the bigger picture. How is my work, and the work of Proyecto Getsemani in Ahuachapan, El Salvador, both a product of and affected by a larger historical, social, and political context?

3. I hope to build upon my own understanding of the connections between the struggles for social justice in different areas of the world. What are the connections between social justice work in Ahuachapan, El Salvador with Washington, DC? How can we build a stronger and more united movement for social justice? How can we build a united movement for good jobs across the globe?

Clearly, I have a lot of work to do over the next five days, as do the rest of the members of the delegation. Check back in tomorrow, and every day this week, to hear from another participant as we begin our fantastic learning journey.

En solidaridad,

Hannah Kane

Employment Justice Organizer

P.S. Save the date! On Thursday, November 7, at 7pm, come out to hear a presentation about the learning experience from the delegation. The presentation will be held at SEIU at 1800 Massachusetts Ave NW. We hope to see you there!