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School of the America's (WHINSEC) Protest 2011

Date(s)/Time(s)/Duration/Location(s): November 18-20, 2011 in Columbus, GA (with small group gatherings and reflections prior to the trip)

Campus Organization, Contact Person and Contact Information: Campus Ministry, Marty Roers, mroers@lmu.edu or 310-338-5390.

Activity: The annual School of the America’s (WHINSEC) protest has been a transforming experience for many people over the years and is rooted in our deep Jesuit connections to the killings of the Jesuit Martyrs and their companions in El Salvador in 1989. The weekend trip is a deep experience of LMU’s mission of the education of the whole person by challenging students to hear all sides of the story to a complex national and international issue including meeting with WHINSEC officials and peace activists. Students are encouraged to listen, ask questions, reflect, and pray about this complex social justice issue.   Campus Ministry’s Human Rights Coalition organizes a LMU delegation to this gathering each November. Thousands of people from all walks of life gather at this National protest every year (and smaller counter protests) to remember the anniversary of the slain Jesuits and laywomen in El Salvador, to reflect on our commitment to live "a faith that does justice", and to call for an end to unjust institutions, including the SOA/WHINSEC.

Experiences: Students do not merely attend this weekend experience, but are encouraged to bring this experience back to LMU and back to their educational experience.  In the past students have used this experience to organized an on-campus vigil to commemorate the lives of the Jesuit martyrs and the countless other martyrs throughout Latin America as well.  Others students return to campus to shared their experience, educate their classmates, or they realize that they have a new found passion for justice in regards to this or other social justice issues.  Students have brought their experience and passion for justice back to the heart of the LMU campus through a multimedia art, photography, and video exhibit in University Hall or through speakers, videos, documentaries, and other campus events.  This experience truly is meant to spark the passion of students not merely in this particular issue surrounding the School of the Americas, but in whatever social justice issue the student participants discover they are deeply passionate about.

Keywords: Justice, SOA, Faith, Protest, Martyrs

Faith/Spiritual Component: This experience is rooted in our Jesuit Heritage.  The event remembers the anniversary of the slain Jesuits and laywomen martyrs in El Salvador and the numerous other martyrs throughout Central and South America.  Students are led through multiple daily reflections before, during, and after the weekend experience in a theological and social analysis model that strive to create a commitment to a lived "faith that does justice.”

Related Resources: Numerous background readings, videos, and speakers are used to provide a context to truly understand the experience before, during, and after the actual protest.
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Professors and/or classes that have been involved in the activity in the past: Robert Stephans, History