A unique opportunity to observe presidential elections in El Salvador brings with it a new perspective.
Nate LaCombe '15, Billings, Mont., got the chance to participate in El Salvador’s democratic process while examining our own during a semester in Washington, D.C., through the Lutheran College Washington Semester program.
The LCWS program is an opportunity for students to observe and learn how our government discerns policy both here in the United States and abroad. For LaCombe, becoming immersed in the history and energy of the capital flipped a switch.
“I became enthralled with all of D.C. ... following political blogs, researching policy and seeking contact with my congressmen. What motivated me the most was a chance to influence something greater than myself,” LaCombe says.
LaCombe recognized an opportunity to do just that when he was asked to travel to El Salvador with a D.C. church group.
Serving as translator (thanks to his minor in Spanish), LaCombe and the group traveled to a rural area of El Salvador where they would serve as International Election Observers for the presidential elections.
LaCombe was struck by the commitment to democracy shown by the people of this developing country.
“I was observing elections in a very rural area where few people owned cars. A majority walked at least a mile in 105-degree weather to vote. It was inspiring to see not only a generation, but an entire people believe in a process so much,” LaCombe says.
Meeting and learning from local young men and women, gaining insight into outside perceptions of the U.S., acting as a diplomat for his country – these experiences impressed on LaCombe the importance of a global education in a world where physical borders matter less and less.
With El Salvador and his semester in D.C. behind him, LaCombe has no doubt that his experiences will stay with him.
“Even though I was there to translate, I found myself asking my own questions to everyone around me,” LaCombe says. “It was a chance to test how I’m able to continue to learn and teach myself when I’ve left the classroom. Concordia has helped me not only obtain that skill but want to utilize it.”