Before he was a professor of social work, my friend Jim Winship did his coming of age in the US Peace Corps in El Salvador. His work as a community organizer in the La Chacra neighborhood of San Salvador left an indelible mark on him. More than 30 years later on a Fulbright fellowship, Jim Winship returned to El Salvador, where he began documenting the lives of young people in the country. That passion has led to the publishing of his book, Coming of Age in El Salvador.
The book is divided into two main sections. After an introduction to the geography and history of El Salvador, Jim presents the life stories of several young Salvadorans and their experiences transitioning into adulthood. In the second half of the book, he uses those stories to help illuminate discussions of family, education, migration, violence and economic realities. These are the forces which young men and women must navigate as they make their way from childhood into lives as adult Salvadorans.
At a time when there is much in the news about child migration from El Salvador and the rest of Central America. Jim regularly returns to the topic of migration, which every young person seems to regard as an option which much be considered. This is a book about the dreams of young people in El Salvador, and it is a book about the very real, and sometimes insurmountable obstacles to achieving those dreams.
I recommend this book for anyone with an interest in El Salvador and who wants to gain an appreciation of the lives of those young Salvadorans who represent the country's future.
You can read an excerpt including the book's chapter on migration here. Options for purchasing the book are here.