Meet our New Global School Coordinator, José Ascencio!
José first became interested in human rights as a high school student in El Salvador in the 1970s, when violence was increasing ahead of the civil war. “It was a difficult time here,” says José. He left El Salvador after receiving death threats, and went on to study psychology in the United States. “I wanted to know more about why people were fighting during that time,” he explains. “It led me to want to help people overcome problems.”
José lived in San Francisco for 25 years. He worked as a social worker and then in the judicial system to advocate for foster kids from diverse backgrounds, including Latino kids whose Central American parents had been deported. This work led him to visit a middle school with a high population of low-income students. “I saw a big challenge, and I said okay, I want to work here,” says José. He worked there as a counselor and then teacher for 7 years.
Global School participants can look forward to learning much from José. He loves teaching, and has a lot to share with both Central and North American participants. “I have lived both experiences,” he says. “I lived with violence and repression when I was in middle school. Then I moved to the United States, and had the experience of living the other side of the story: helping kids that were going through a difficult time.”
This duality of experience showed José that countries across the continent still struggle when it comes to upholding basic human rights. He believes it’s important for us to come together and learn from each other. “It will motivate us to do better,” says José. “Anyone that comes here and wants to hear about the Cristosal human rights approach through the Salvadoran experience, I will give them the best we have.”