International Service Trips
Guatemala Service Trip Coming in 2016 in Collaboration with Trees, Water & People.
At the end of 2015, a group from Unity Church and the Geller Center embarked on a journey to Guatemala with environmental nonprofit Trees, Water & People (TWP) for 10 days of discovery, service, and cultural exchange. The trip included environmental education, infrastructure improvement, and agroforestry production. Check out this blog post from the Aldea Maya organization's website to learn more about the service trip!
Service-learning trip to Santa Marta, El Salvador, January 2014
A group of 10 university students and community members traveled to a small village called Santa Marta, which is practicing organic farming and has a goal of becoming self-sustaining within 10 years. The village includes many people who were refugees during the Salvadoran war in the '80's. Brining heritage seeds and soil testing equipment, The Geller Center worked with the community in planting a peace garden.
"The 2014 trip to El Salvador was incredibly impactful. I absorbed about the history of the people of Santa Marta, challenged myself to live the lifestyle of the village, and gained an understanding of the oppression that a group of post-refugees face, and the resiliency they possess to turn their struggle into positive light. I will take these lessons with me throughout the rest of my life." ~Lindsey
"I was impacted most by a comment from Don Carlos, a community leader partially responsible for the return of the refugees to Santa Marta. He said something to the effect, "No matter how difficult life can be, you need to celebrate along the way." Don Carlos is someone who understands how difficult life can be. He literally carried his daughters across the Lempa river to flee gunfire from the US supported El Salvadoran government, losing one daughter in the ambush. He lived through almost a decade of strife in multiple refugee camps in Honduras and finally helped lead 4000 people back to Santa Marta, enduring further persecution by the El Salvadoran government. There is nothing that I've faced in my 55 years that comes close to the toils Don Carlos has persevered. I take with me his words of wisdom to carry me through tough times and guide me to celebrate along the way!" ~Mike
"This trip has indeed challenged me. Adjusting to a different lifestyle and hearing their stories of civil war horror. It's amazing the attitude of happiness and job this community maintains - what an example for the world to see. As the school principal mentioned, I'll pass the story of Santa Marta onto 5 of my friends." ~Kimber
"When reflecting upon our time in El Salvador, a great sense of light shines into my mind. I feel the warmth of the weather and the people. It was great to be present with complete strangers yet feel like old friends! We joked almost all the time even though we still got a lot of work done. We planted 1/4 acre of veggies, harvested organic matter from the mountain, built a massive compost pile, harvested veggies and planted a peace pole stating QUE LA PAZ PREVALEZCA EN LA TIERRA, MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH. Wow we actually planted our intentions for earth, PEACE! The feelings from that make me empowered, proud to be alive and a part of an awesome community of global citizens like The Geller Center. The feelings are a solid corner stone for me and I now know what can be done because I've seen it happen. Here we are healing wounds that occurred before we were even born! Talk about a big picture!" ~Johnny
"During our time in El Salvador, I was deeply moved by the people we met and their way of life. Throughout our stay, we were welcomed with an inspiring warmth and generosity. People shared their entire lives with us--their history, their present, and their dreams--with open hearts and remarkable enthusiasm. They shared with us their struggles--such as their time during the civil war or their on going battles with stubborn and cruel governments--but they also shared with us their triumphs and joys--like their community powered school, our celebration at Mesa Grande, or our time cliff jumping in the river. For the brief time that we were there, we truly became a part of the community. They, without hesitation, opened the doors for us to experience the beauty, perseverance, and playfulness of their way of life and to immerse ourselves in their humble expression of the vitality and magnificence of life, community, and simply having enough. I am forever grateful for all the spiritual gifts that the Santa Marta community gave to our group, it was truly an unforgettable and powerful experience and I'm excited to see how our friendship will continue grow." ~ Jon
**See our Photo page for the entire album!**
Below, you will find a documentary about El Porvenir, Honduras, created by former Geller Center intern, Bonnie Brown: