The goal of the exhibit is to show that history— which often feels far away— is connected to us in many ways.
The Far Away, So Close: Indiana and El Salvador exhibit is displayed on the fourth floor of the East building in Herman B Wells Library. It will remain open until Dec. 16, 2022. It was originally created as a companion to the Kelley School’s Common Read book, “The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life.”
I have spent many years studying political science and have gone through numerous political science classes. So many in fact, that I am almost done with my political science minor as a first semester sophomore. Yet, I didn't understand the relevance of this exhibit in the slightest.
El Salvador's political climate is vastly different from anything we have ever experienced in America. Between the coups and dictators, citizens were often part of democides, and many fled to escape bad situations. The exhibit attempts to show that during the El Salvador Civil War, the former Indiana governor, Richard G. Lugar, and President Ronald Reagan, provided $60 million in aid while modifying U.S. foreign policy. Although I see their efforts and the theme is somewhat there, it just doesn’t feel well executed. First, the exhibit is displayed in the hallway outside of the University Archives. It almost feels as though no effort was put into the exhibit, as if there was nothing special to see. After reading the documents and newsletters displayed, there is no real explanation of how Lugar was involved in any of the efforts. The only proof he was there is through a few letters and pictures.
Considering the exhibit is in companion with the book, this feels like a distasteful ode to an inspirational book. “The Far Away Brothers” is about two young boys from El Salvador who escape to the US after getting into some trouble with the region's brutal gangs. It shows their journey, highlighting their triumphs and downfalls, as they fight to learn and discover life in America. The author, Lauren Markham, is an incredible journalist, reporter and author, who worked with young migrants in Northern California and dedicated her time to teaching young migrants English.
Markham put countless hours and tireless efforts into this book, aiming to show the heartache of immigrants and all that they go through in their home countries, as well as once they reach America. This exhibit almost feels like a dishonor and degradation of her name and her work.
If you want to learn about the situation in El Salvador, I highly recommend reading the book, for it is much more informative and portrays a moving story that will inspire you. You can access the book through Kelley Common Reads.Not only does this exhibit fail to teach you about the relations of El Salvador and Indiana, it also leaves you confused, due to the lack of coherency and dull readings.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.