It's Teach Central America Week! This week hundreds of teachers from 34 U.S. states, D.C., and four other countries (Bermuda, Honduras, Colombia, and Canada) have committed to #TeachCentralAmerica.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been focusing our attention on resources for teaching about different countries in Central America. So far, we’ve touched on Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Today, we’re turning our attention to El Salvador, a country known as the “Land of Volcanoes” because of the more than twenty volcanoes in the region.
Lesson Unit
The Roots of Immigration from El Salvador
and Current Policy Debates
This series of high school lessons by Justin Sybenga uses the country of El Salvador as a case study to provide important historical context for contemporary immigration issues. The lessons were developed for use in conjunction with the website When We Were Young There Was a War. Students explore the push and pull factors that have impacted immigration from El Salvador since the 1980s, research the various policies that have regulated immigration from El Salvador since 1965, fact-check common myths about immigration from El Salvador to the United States, and develop their own recommendations on a current immigration policy question.
Authors and Activists
In workshops on Central America, we often begin with the question, “How many Central Americans of note can you name?" Below, read about two Salvadorans. You can find these bios in Central America: An Introductory Lesson.
Maria Serrano was a young mother when she began organizing her fellow campesinos (farmers) to ask for land and rights from the corrupt Salvadoran government during the U.S.-backed civil war. Serrano joined the guerrilla forces of the FMLN in their fight against the government. After the peace accords, she became a legislator in the National Assembly and served her country as Minister of the Interior, where she continued her quest to bring dignity and rights to the poor of El Salvador. Learn more from the award-winning documentary about her life called Maria’s Story.
Archbishop Oscar Romero was a religious leader and activist in El Salvador during the 1960s and 1970s. Romero fought fervently for the rights of the oppressed and was a key figure in the religious movement to practice “liberation theology.” In February 1980, he wrote a letter to President Carter asking him to halt U.S. military assistance to the Salvadoran government. On March 24, 1980, Romero was assassinated while he was giving mass. Over 250,000 people attended his funeral, which became a protest against the government. He became an icon to El Salvador’s revolution, and he was canonized as a saint in 2018.
Poetry and Art
Many from El Salvador insist that it’s the only Central American country without Black people. But Breena Nuñez is asserting their Afro-Salvadoran identity in this vibrant and informative comic. 
La Manplesa: An Uprising Remembered
On May 5th, 1991, people took to the streets of Washington D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood to protest the police shooting of Daniel Gomez, a young man from El Salvador. The uprising called attention to the deep and widespread discrimination experienced by the Latinx community. Through testimony, song, poetry, and street theatre, the new documentary La Manplesa weaves together the collective memory of one of D.C.’s first barrios and dives into the roots of the ‘91 rebellion.
Prudencia Ayala, (animación)
This short animation follows the life of Salvadoran writer and social activist, Prudencia Ayala, who fought for womens rights in early 1900s. Due to poverty and limited access to school as a child, she could not continue her formal education past the second grade. Despite these obstacles, Ayala gained mass popularity after publishing predictions and feminist articles in favor of gender equality, anti-imperialism, and Central American unionism. She challenged the political and social parties and went on to run for Presidential candidacy despite the laws that impeded women from having any rights at all.
In the News
El Salvador’s Water Defenders and the
Fight Against Toxic Mining
The aftermath of Tropical Storm Amanda, El Salvador, June 2020. | Photo by V'ctor Pe'a/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
In 2017, El Salvador became the first country in the world to ban metal mining. Robin Broad and John Cavanagh present the story of the social struggles and legal battles behind that ban in The Water Defenders (Beacon Press, 2021). 
Broad and Cavanagh spent over a decade collaborating with the international solidarity movement supporting the Salvadorans’ fight against a proposed Pacific Rim gold mine. Their account is rife with valuable detail about the mobilizations, negotiations, alliance building, international campaigns, and legal maneuvers that stopped the Pacific Rim mining concession and led to the national ban.  
Oct 7 at 6:00PM ET
Teaching Central America and the Garifuna

In collaboration with Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia, Tulane University presents an educator workshop exploring the diversity of Central America.
Oct 8 at 5:00PM ET
Teaching Early Grade Literacy to Migrant Children from Central America and the Dominican Republic

Learn how to make early reading and writing culturally relevant to migrant children from Central America and the Dominican Republic through a professional development guide presentation and hands-on workshop. Hosted by The K-12 Outreach Program at ILAS, Columbia University, in partnership with The Central American and Caribbean Early Literacy Network of Universities.
Oct 14 at 8:00PM ET
Illuminating Conversations about Central America's Forgotten History

Author Aviva Chomsky will talk about her book, Central America’s Forgotten History, which explores the historical roots of displacement and migration of Central Americans.
Share Your Story
Please tell us how you teach about Central America in your classroom. In appreciation of your time and for your thorough answers, we will send you a free book from a selection of titles on Central America.
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