Since 2007, the Center for Community Engagement and the Moakley Archive and Institute have co-sponsored an annual Alternative Winter Break (AWB) trip to El Salvador during Suffolk’s January break.

The trip offers a unique opportunity for Suffolk students to retrace the steps of the late Congressman John Joseph “Joe” Moakley in El Salvador and to participate in community service projects. Students live and work in the communities that Moakley visited and learn about the lasting effects of his work there. The main purpose of the delegation is to "Serve and Learn".

The Salvadoran Civil War was predominantly fought between the government of El Salvador against a coalition of four leftist parties and one Communist party known as the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) between 1980 and 1992. The United States supported the right-wing government. In total the civil war killed 75,000 people, left 8,000 more missing and one million homeless with another million exiled. Years later the country still is divided and trying to recover from that dark era in their history.

Students prepare for their trip by taking a fall course in which they learn about the political, social, and economic context of the civil war in El Salvador. The course reviews the processes of reconstruction of the rule of law, democracy and sustainable development in Central America. After reviewing the evolution of the main political and economic events in the region, the course centers on the process of political reconciliation since the early 1990s. The final series of lectures focus on El Salvador and the contradictory role of countries in the immediate neighborhood, the United States and the legacy of John Joseph Moakley. The course concludes with the January trip to El Salvador.

The application deadline for the January 2016 El Salvador AWB trip is March 23, 2015.

AWB Application [PDF]

Past Trips

2015: El Salvador Experience Embraces History, Culture, and the Power of Service

2014: Visiting El Salvador Helps Students Grasp Cultural and Political Subtext of Nation's Civil War

2013: Journey to El Salvador Engages Students in Service & Learning

2012: Civil War History Lesson from the Lips of a Guerrilla