Lessons of a Mango Tree
Below is an essay written by Cretin-Derham Hall High School teacher and SHARE delegate, Ellie Roscher. The essay was originally published in Alive Magazine.
The summer after my first year of teaching, I found myself sitting under a mango tree in the middle of El Salvador with a student named Sam. We sat on a bench together in a beautiful garden, looking at an intricate mural in an exotic country, yet the mood was somber and heavy.
Sam broke the silence we were sharing by whispering, “I do not understand, I cannot fathom how one person could ever kill a child.” I hoped he was not looking for his teacher to offer wisdom, because I had none. The world has the potential to be horrendously ugly.
In late July, 16 high school juniors, my two best co-worker friends and I left Minnesota to study the civil war in El Salvador. It was one of those trips that did enough filling to keep me full for quite some time. It was a journey that reinforced the idea that joy and sorrow come from the same well in our hearts. Our overscheduled lives of controlled routine were given up for guttural laughter and soul crushing tears within 10 minutes of each other. We sweated harder and experienced deeper joy and hurt in those 10 days than we had in the previous year of our formerly guarded, air-conditioned lives.
There is a part of the human spirit that knows that all humans have inherent worth and dignity. That part of the human spirit will always cry out for freedom, land, food, water, love and life. In the 1970s, a few families owned most of the land in El Salvador, and the people rose up out of their desperation. With the support of liberation theology and the Jesuit order, the guerillas went to war with the government in hopes of gaining more land, rights and power for the people….Continue reading “Lessons of a Mango Tree.”
*Illustration by Meghan Hanson.
- Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator