What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?
It’s a strange realization, stepping back out of this moment, to see that this trip is almost over. For more than a year now, I’ve been preparing with one of my co-leader, Liz: interviewing applicants, choosing our group, planning weekly reflections, organizing fundraising events, taking a course on the history of El Salvador… In the process, I’ve made a friend who knows me as well as anyone, and been part of a group that is the model of what community can be. We’ve just finished our last site visit, and are on our way to the beach, where we’ll have a day to unwind and process, a retreat of sorts, before we head back to BC.
I’m in the front of the mini-bus now, having a rare quiet moment while the rest of the group — eleven other students — talks about what it was like to visit the site of the four churchwomen’s murder. There’s a small church there now, and the area is quiet and peaceful, so we spent our time there in comfortable, contemplative silence. I’m not quite ready to talk yet — the women’s story always struck a chord with me. I need to sit with it for a few more minutes, so I stick my head slightly out the window. My hair whips around, and my eyes squint against the sun and wind. I breathe deeply, letting the still-surprising sight of evergreens and palm trees growing side by side along winding roads take me back to the time I had spent living not too far away.
Beside me, Liz puts her hand on my arm. You’ll want to hear this. I pull my head in from outside the window, but don’t turn around, content to listen to the conversation that was going on behind me. I guess I want to figure out what this means now. How do we use the legacies of Dorothy, Ita, Maura and Jean’s deaths to address rape and the oppression of women on our campus?