"They welcomed us with open arms. It made me see how lucky we really are, and gives me a better understanding of the culture of other places." - Rafi, age 13
"It was amazing how we made friends so quickly. Everything was so different but I loved it. It'll make me less likely to take things for granted. Taking a non-pila shower seems so high-tech!"
- Rachel, age 10
These are quotes from members of Sister Cities’ most recent delegation, a trip that brought three generations and two families from the Arlington committee to their sistered community of Teosinte, Chalatenango.
The five kids, who were all ages 10 and 13, came with their parents and/or grandparents to visit Teosinte and learn firsthand about life in El Salvador and to become part of the solidarity that has existed between these two communities for 25 years. They stayed with host families and spent the week playing soccer with kids in the community, swimming in the river, learning to make tamales, and connecting with kids who speak a different language and come from a totally different culture.
Each Sister Cities delegation is different, and this one was no exception. It was an incredible experience for the adults on the delegation as well as for the Sister Cities coordinators to see the ways these three generations interacted with the community, and the way the community welcomed them as family.
"I came away inspired by the resilience of people who have suffered so profoundly and yet are so loving and welcoming to strangers from a different culture. Our host families shared very hard stories with us and, at other moments, we had a blast together. Seeing my kids taking it all in and growing so much during the course of a week was an amazing privilege. Most of all, I'm reminded of the power of love - - of how when people spend time together with their hearts and minds open, something happens that can transcend cultural and linguistic barriers, and can offer meaningful healing and support." - Beth, mom
The Arlington Sister City project incorporates El Salvador and their sistered community of Teosinte into the curriculum of every 4th grader in Arlington, which means that the kids that came on this delegation – in addition to thousands others – have spent a year learning about the history and culture of El Salvador, writing letters with Salvadoran kids their age, and working on fundraisers and other events to support the scholarship program in Teosinte.