Volunteering in El Salvador: COAR Mission Trips

One of COAR Peace Mission’s objectives is to keep the spirit of service and solidarity spirit that was so present in the Cleveland Mission Team alive. If your college, university, parish or organization would like to travel to El Salvador to serve and to be in solidarity with the people, we can arrange an incredible trip for you.
What kind of service can you provide at COAR? Simple. The single greatest career skill that can be developed in our school is the ability for the children to speak English. We offer English language classes at every grade level. But, what the kids really need is a chance to talk one-on-one with native English speakers. Therefore, unlike other service trips where US citizens build fences or paint buildings, we welcome you into our English classrooms to become teachers and ambassadors of US culture.
Working with education professionals, we design wonderful, fun and authentic lesson plans for you. This is not your grandfather’s language class where you just conjugate verbs all day. This is an opportunity for you to sit and talk with small groups of Salvadorans students. You don’t need to have any teaching experience. Lesson plans and activities will be provided that build upon your own native language ability. We have been doing this for years and the results are clear. US visitors love working with the Salvadoran students and the kids have a truly unique opportunity to work with native speakers.
When not in the classroom, we will arrange for visits to major landmarks and historical and cultural sites. You can see the Cathedral of San Salvador and Romero’s Crypt; the UCA where the Jesuits were murdered; Divina Providencia where Romero was assassinated and where he was living prior to his death; the Chapel of the Four Churchwomen; and other sites of interest to your group such as the Pacific Ocean or a volcano.
Finally, you will have the chance to meet our great COAR kids up close. You certainly will not leave without playing at least one game of soccer with the kids! Also, you will be treated to an exciting despedida (going away party) on the last night where the kids will put on a special program in your honor. We will all eat – community style – in our Casa Comunal. You will never understand love and solidarity until you spend a week at COAR. A mission trip without solidarity is like a glass in the desert without water. Don’t build walls on your service trip – build solidarity, love and understanding.

Planning Your Mission Trip

Begin at least 3 months in advance…
Inquire at the COAR office about dates, availability, cost, etc.
Arrange flights
Apply for passports
Obtain VIRTUS or similar Child Protection Traning for all 18+ visitors
Identify the group leader
Identify at least one FLUENT Spanish-speaker who will accompany the group
Get legal releases from all travelers (both COAR’s and your own group’s)
Schedule preparation meetings
Consult your travel doctor

What we will help you with:
Lodging at COAR
Food at COAR
Activities with the COAR children
Sample itineraries (Romero’s tomb, museums – whatever is reasonable to fit into each day. Call our office and we’ll send you ideas.)
Local transportation (Airport pick-ups, other sights, etc.)
Fundraising projects

Air travel from Wednesday to Wednesday is usually cheaper.
Plan to arrive in El Salvador before 6:00 PM.
When planning your itinerary, plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Don’t leave them to spontaneous decisions as you might in the U.S.

Preparing the group
Experiencing solidarity requires preparation. Groups are encouraged to meet at least three times as a group before travelling in order to get to know each other, set expectations, reflect on preparation materials.
Preparing the community

Involving friends, family, and church members in your trip before you go will enhance the experience as well as provide support when you return. Fundraisers for a specific project that you can attest to when you return will also bring your community into your experience.

Reading and movies
There are many books, movies, and documentaries about El Salvador. We encourage members of your group to view or read these and come together for reflection before the trip.

We encourage your group to leave electronic entertainment devices behind. The childrens’ school and house routine must be respected – that means early to bed and early to rise – 5 am! The food available at COAR is healthy and wholesome but simple. Travel by bus on poor roads will be hot, dusty, and bumpy. Most sites, including COAR, require lots of walking.

Mass, prayer, worship
COAR is a Catholic school. You are welcome to attend Mass or organize your own prayer service or vacation Bible school with the children. Contact our office to ensure time in the schedule.