Frequently Asked Questions
Who can participate in the Global School?
Global School courses are for anyone who feels compelled to participate in processes for change, both locally and globally. The courses are an excellent training opportunity for individuals and groups who seek to develop human rights or community development initiatives, as well as those already engaged in this work. Participants will develop skills for critically analyzing problems and potential solutions, as well as approaches to multicultural exchange. In addition, courses provide a platform for team building, skills building, and discernment for parish, diocesan, and secular community groups. Our courses can also serve as a compliment to academic study at the undergraduate or graduate level, as well as seminary or continuing education programs.
We organize and schedule courses for groups of at least 10 participants, and we offer courses that are open to individual enrollment periodically throughout the year. (See Open Enrollment course dates noted throughout the catalogue.)
What can I expect to gain from my course?
We design Global School courses to match theory with contextual experience—preparing participants with broad theoretical perspectives on human rights issues, paired with field visits and workshops in which to learn new skills and approaches for improved practice. Throughout each course, the Global School pairs participants from North America with Salvadorans interested in the same theme. This approach provides participants with rich, multicultural perspectives unique to Global School courses.
What kind of involvement is expected after my course?
The Global School’s mission is to advance knowledge and promote cultural engagement. During the course, we encourage participants to reflect on how they will use their new skills and experiences to create change in their home communities. Participation in the Global School does not imply an obligation or expectation of continued engagement with El Salvador or Cristosal.
What background do I need to participate in a course?
Involving participants with a wide diversity of academic, professional and life experiences in each course enriches learning and discussion. We have designed the Global School courses to be accessible to individuals of any background, culture, or belief system; we simply ask that all participants be respectful and open to new experiences, and adhere to the safety guidelines established by the School. There is no language requirement for participation as all courses include simultaneous translation between English and Spanish as needed.
Why El Salvador?
Whether your interests lie in Latin America or elsewhere, you will find that El Salvador is a compelling setting in which to study human rights and community development. Its recent tragic history of grave human rights violations, but also inspiring struggle and progress toward greater freedom, is a powerful testimony to social change and has produced a wealth of experience and knowledge about how to create change. Located at the center of the American continents, El Salvador is a global crossroads, offering a unique perspective on how our interconnectedness and global relationships affect the poor.
How many participants are in each course, and how much does it cost?
The ideal size of a group is 12-20 participants, although we can accommodate up to 35 per course and a minimum of 10. We often break down larger groups into smaller teams to ensure full participation for everyone. The cost is a flat, non-proratable $970.00 (USD) per person, not including travel to and from El Salvador. The course fee covers all in country costs such as lodging, meals, transportation, interpretation, and all course activities. Once groups confirm the dates for a course, we ask for an initial non-refundable deposit of $100 per person to reserve course dates.
Deposits should be sent to:
9641 Carousel Center Drive Syracuse, NY 13290
Re: Global School
Payment for the course should be made in full at least one month ahead of arrival.
Can I tailor a course to my group’s interests?
The Global School staff can tailor your course to meet your group’s special needs and interests in three ways:
- The Pilgrimage Option: This option emphasizes the spiritual and theological underpinnings of your course material. The Pilgrimage program is grounded in Benedictine spirituality, beginning and ending each day with prayer and reflection. The Benedictine framework for the course emphasizes living contemplatively in such a way that leads to praxis or action in the world.
- The Youth Option: Youth Global School Courses are designed to promote global awareness and a sense of vocation among youth participants, empowering them to act for justice in their local communities and the world. These courses offer appropriate methodologies and activities and emphasize engaging with Salvadoran youth of a similar age. The Global School recommends the Youth Leadership and Activism or Theatre of the Oppressed courses for youth groups, though the Youth Option can be applied to any course in the catalogue.
- The Focus Option: You can work with Global School staff to define a specific focus for your course that will help to hone in on the interests of your group. The most common example is the Introduction to Human Rights course, which looks at human rights through a specific lens, such as women’s rights or environmental rights. These themes can also be applied to either the Youth or the Pilgrimage Options.
Can I participate in a course by myself, or do I have to come down with a group?
Cristosal offers Open Courses throughout the year, which are open to enrollment by individuals or small groups. Open Courses have preset dates and curricula. Participants join with people from around North America in El Salvador, providing an even greater diversity of perspectives and a great opportunity to meet new friends and colleagues. The Open Courses being offered in 2105 were: LGBT Rights & Sexual Diversity Ministry, Theologies of Mission & Development, Theater of the Oppressed, Migration & Human Trafficking and Election Observation and Democracy Building. (See course descriptions for Open Course dates.)
Is El Salvador safe for foreign travelers?
Yes. The most recent travel advisory released by U.S. Department of State states that:
Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit El Salvador each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. There is no information to suggest that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted by criminals.
Cristosal is in constant conversation with U.S. Embassy staff to monitor the security threat to North American visitors. Currently, the State Department views El Salvador as a safe and attractive destination for engagement and cultural exchange programs like the Global School.
Your participation in the Global School is an active means of forging healthy relationships of exchange and dialogue with neighbors throughout the Americas.
Cristosal has 15 years of experience bringing groups of North Americans to El Salvador without a single safety incident. If Global School participants honor their commitments to abide by Cristosal’s security guidelines, it is very unlikely that you will be affected by any type of crime or incident, including petty theft. Most people find El Salvador to be a beautiful country and Salvadorans to be inspiring and extraordinarily welcoming hosts.
What about the beach?
A typical course concludes with a one-night stay at the beach. Global School courses are intense. We have found it useful for groups to set aside a final day to decompress and reflect before heading home. Global School participants sometimes raise concerns about whether it is appropriate to spend a day at the beach after a week focused on addressing issues of poverty and human rights. If this is a concern, groups can request alternative activities on the final day. However, accommodations at the beach are modest and should not make Global School participants feel uncomfortable. El Salvador is a beautiful country, and most Salvadorans want visitors to see the country for all that it is and enjoy it to the fullest.