BY ISN STAFF | December 2, 2016
Santa Clara University (SCU) has announced the relaunch of its signature praxis-based global learning program — Casa de la Solidaridad (Casa), beginning in fall 2017. Casa is a study abroad program based at the Jesuit’s University of Central America (UCA), in San Salvador, El Salvador, rooted in four pillars: sustained accompaniment of the poor, rigorous academic reflection, community support, and spirituality, and draws inspiration from the lives of the six Jesuit martyrs and their companions at the UCA in 1989. The program, founded in 1999, serves both Santa Clara University students and students from other universities across the United States, with a specific focus on additional students from members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
“The Casa program has provided students with a life-changing experience,” shares Dennis Jacobs, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Santa Clara University, “through a curriculum of classes, praxis involvement, and on-site personal and spiritual reflection based on the relationships students develop with campesinos and illuminated by Jesuit spirituality.” In the summer of 2017, Santa Clara University will additionally restart Casa’s unique 4-week program, providing a focus on healthcare and public health in El Salvador. Santa Clara University will also relaunch its short-term El Salvador spring break immersion program in 2017.
The program was suspended in March of 2016 amid safety concerns, and the decision to lift the suspension came after an on-site university delegation visit to assess health and safety risks. The university will continue to closely monitor the environment in El Salvador and make appropriate program adjustments, as needed, to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.
Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz, founding directors of the Casa de la Solidaridad Program and 2015 ISN Legacy of the Martyrs honorees, expressed their excitement on the program’s re-launch, and the transformative experience that students will again be able to have while being immersed in the the program’s four pillars, particularly the experiences with the program praxis sites. “Students take their formal academic classes at the UCA,” shares Trena Yonkers-Talz, “but we always consider their primary ‘classroom’ in the communities with those ‘on the margins’”
“The Casa experience shaped my entire life path, and I could not be more grateful for the 4 months I studied abroad in El Salvador,” reflects Megan Raimondi, SCU graduate (‘07), Casa alum (‘05), and prior Casa community coordinator (‘07-’08). “I have now been a social worker for 6 years, and I believe that I can do and love this work because of the foundation that I created in El Salvador: a foundation of love, solidarity, and connection to things bigger than me.”
Students interested in studying at Casa de la Solidaridad can find more information about the program here.
Contact information for Kevin and Trena Yonkers-Talz, program directors, can be found here.
“Casa de la Solidaridad”: a film by Joe Alexander-Short, Casa alum (’13)