For the first time in Sister Cities history, the National Gathering was held in the Lone Star committee´s hometown of Austin, TX, also kicking off the 2014 Speaking Tour.
Thanks to the outstanding behind-the-scenes work of members of the Austin Committee (also known as the East Side Group), locals and out-of-towners alike from Chicago, Crystal Lake, Cambridge, Maine, Michigan, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Dallas, Madison, and San Salvador enjoyed 5-star hospitality, fabulous food, and engaging presentations on October 11th and 12th, 2014.
In addition to presentations from Sister Cities staff and board members, Edith Portillo of CRIPDES shared her experiences and reflections on advances in women´s rights, described current economic realities, and shared about the realities of those families and individuals who make the difficult choice to migrate to the United States. We also enjoyed the participation of local Salvadoran-American leader, Miguel Rodriguez, who spoke with us about the challenges and possibilities of working together with Salvadorans living in the US. It was exciting to have the participation of Salvadoran-Americans in the gathering, since one of Sister Cities’ and CRIPDES’ goals in the coming years is to increasingly reach out to and work together with Salvadorans living in the United States.
Molly Todd, a former Sister Cities volunteer and long-time member of the Madison committee, joined us to share about her exciting new project: an academic text dedicated to the idea of sistering, with U.S. El Salvador Sister Cities as the primary case study! In addition to the book itself, Molly foresees many other opportunities: from doing presentations with our US committees to helping preserve and archive Sister Cities history and much more. Todd published another academic text in 2010 about the organization of refugees and repopulated communities during the armed conflict: Beyond Displacement: Campesinos, Refugees, and Collective Action in the Salvadoran Civil War. Stay tuned for what´s next with this new project!
One of the great pay-offs of this year’s gathering was the nomination of TWO NEW BOARD MEMBERS to the Sister Cities Board of Directors. The Sister Cities all-volunteer board is crucial to the organization and a great way for folks to stay regularly involved and learn about El Salvador´s struggles, organizing, leadership, and much much more. We are excited to welcome Angela Cluley and Delia Landers to the Board! It is exciting to see the younger generation of Sister Cities step up to leadership positions, and we look forward to their participation.
Thanks to everyone who attended and helped facilitate the 2014 Sister Cities National Gathering! We hope to see you again at next year´s gathering. Sorry you missed it this year? Talk to YOUR committee about hosting in 2015!
Catie Johnston and Cori Ring-Martinez
US El Salvador Sister Cities
El Salvador Staff