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Social Change in Central America: Exploring Peace, Justice and Community Engagement

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Lol what a time !!!!!

WOW WOW WOW. What a semester. 4 countries in 4 months. This semester challenged me in ways I could have never predicted but were so necessary for my self development. I was able to travel dozens of times to some of the most beautiful sites of this world. I am so grateful for the opportunity doing this particular program has afforded me. The various homestays were one of the best aspects of the program. I felt so welcomed and loved by each of my families and have made some of my favourite memories with those families. Huge shoutout to Ruth, our coordinator, who kept everyone alive and SANE. In a group of 6 it was hard to function at times, but Ruth kept us all going. Much love to you, Ruth. Be sure to bring her some dark chocolate if you come on this program :)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

CGEE Central America

I have participated in two overseas trips: one in London with no homestays but rather apartments with fellow programmers, and the second, a CGEE program in Central America (Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua) with multiple homestays. I consider Central America the best abroad experience I have had thus far.

My fellow Central America participants and I were able to visit three beautiful countries that were all very different from one another, offering a broader and more complex view of Central America, its history and the struggle and success of its peoples. I personally liked that we moved from country to country, but of course every goodbye was not easy. You’re in each country for a little longer than a month. But this gives you enough time to enjoy what each has to offer and to soak up as much knowledge as you can.

I frequently went travelling on the weekends, which the program allows you to do. It is very easy to find friends to travel with among fellow participants, and the program staff is always more than willing to help you with transportation and give you suggestions.

As a beginning Spanish learner with only one semester of Spanish completed prior to the trip, I found the intensive Spanish class in Guatemala very helpful; I loved my teacher and my host mom in Xela, and still talk to both of them today! All of the classes were manageable and we took many field trips which felt different from your average college class on campus, allowing us to see different part of the places we were in. I would say my Spanish improved one whole level at the end of the program; even though our classes were taught in English, living with host families that only spoke Spanish allowed you to practice your Spanish frequently.

One aspect of CGEE that I loved was our homestays in rural communities. The rural homestays provide an intimacy that you don’t get in the more urban settings. In the end, I stayed with seven families total! Something that many other programs do not provide.

If you are looking for a program that will immerse your whole life into multiple cultures through homestays, field trips, and conversations with locals and then transform your way of life back home with valuable life lessons and newly sparked passions, CGEE Central America is going to do a great job at that!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

I <3 Central America

Could not have imagined a more amazing study abroad experience. I so very much admire the values of the program: from cultural immersion, to learning from real people, to traveling constantly. Incredible classes and material, I have learned an unbelievable amount, especially in Nicaragua. Plus, the material transitioned really well between countries. The home stays may very well be one of my favorite things about the experience. Through the good and bad, it was a really amazing experience to get a glimpse into the lives of families residing in the places we visited. I also really appreciate that we visited campos in each country, plus La Carpio, for experience in alternative ways of life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Great trip

The trip programming combined with homestay experience and the diversity and openness of everyone on the trip all contributed to a very fulfilling and enriching trip. The whole experience broadened my world view and was very fun.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Social change in Central America

This program has made an incredible impact on my life. Though it was personally challenging at certain points, these challenges have made me a better person. Thanks to this program, I have been able to learn how to be a global citizen, how to create social change both as an agent and also as an ally who can stand in solidarity with those who are fighting to change their systems, and how to truly connect with people who are completely different from me.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

My review

I loved the experience, and I am so happy to have this opportunity. I learned so much about myself, others, and the world, or should I say some countries In central America. I hope to carry all the lessons I learned back home with me and share them with my family and friends. My only criticism I would give is not being exposed to the Black/ African descendants who also make up central America. Other than that I admired my time here, and I recommend to anyone contemplating on coming or not, to come and experience the "backyard" of the United States.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

AMAZING

This program is LIFE CHANGING. I definitely recommend it to people looking to be challenged, pushed to their limits, while at the same time learning how to pursue social change, and have fun. If you are looking to embark on a life changing journey, this is your program.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Critical learning in Central America

This is a phenomenal program that implements the lessons it teaches into its teaching style and ethic. I was consistently impressed by the respectful way in which we traveled and learned, and I felt supported and safe with our guide, Ruth.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Augsburg in Central America: Incredible Experience

I would recommend this program to any student interested in social justice, Latin America, or improving Spanish skills without already being at the university level. The program is incredible and lived up to every expectation that I had. Ruth, the facilitator who travels with the group, is outstanding and every in-country coordinator who we had was great too.

The Spanish portion of the program in Guatemala forces students, beginners to near-fluent speakers, to work and improve on their Spanish. We were the first group (Fall 2015) to study at Casa Xelaju, a Spanish school, and I loved the school. Not only do you spend at least 5 hours a day working on a personalized plan of study, but our group also became close with our teachers, creating a social network that we could return to in Xela.

In Costa Rican portion of the trip was the least impressive to most of the students here. However, the home stays in this country, at Longo Mai and La Carpio, are some of the most phenomenal weekends of the trip. This opportunity to learn about different areas of life in Costa Rica, first in the countryside and then in one of the poorest neighborhoods of San Jose, is unique and invaluable.

Generally for the Fall program, the break is in between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The break is a great opportunity to travel more in Central America; another student and I made the bus trek down to Panama City and then over to Bocas del Toro, an incredible experience.

Nicaragua, the longest portion of the trip, was my favorite (though many others on my trip would rate Guatemala higher). Studying Nicaraguan politics and recent history while living with people who were and are directly affected by the the events is incredible.

I was in a small group of only 7 students. Generally the Fall semester is smaller. I personally really enjoyed the experience with such a small amount of students, but depending on the group, I could see how this could really affect the experience. I would keep in the mind this size of the group, the fact that the Spring break doesn't always fall in between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and the weather (apparently more extreme in the Spring -- much colder in Guatemala, much hotter in Nicaragua).

CGE is a socially conscious organization that lives up to its ideals with action. Engagement with the culture is expected and facilitated in each country, the money for the home stays families is always a reasonable amount (in comparison to other organizations our host families work with), and group sessions and reflections are included throughout the program, both to check in on the students and speak more about the current environment. I have been continually impressed by CGE and its actions.
Again, I have no reservations recommending this program. If you'd like more information, feel free to email me at rschwarz000@gmail.com

  • Center for Global Education and Experience, Augsburg College responded to this review December 08, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Casa Xelaju and improved your Spanish. We absolutely strive to live up to our words on being socially conscious in all aspects, and are happy you enjoyed the intercultural pieces of the program. Thanks for your willingness to reach out to future students!

    Sincerely,
    The CGEE Team, globaled@augsburg.edu

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

CGE Social Change in Central America

I highly recommend this program to anyone who is remotely interested in getting to know a country intimately, Central America, and/ or interested in human right issues. I loved this program, from the staff, to the locations, to the other students. My overall experience was beyond positive and I cannot express enough how happy I am to have found and chosen this program. The staff especially are amazing and try so hard to foster an environment of love and support. The program honestly would not be the same without Ruth, Cesar, and Fidel. If you have any questions about the program feel free to contact me at armorell@uvm.edu or amorelli021@gmail.com !

  • Center for Global Education and Experience, Augsburg College responded to this review December 08, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    Thank you for your thoughts and willingness to reach out to future students. Glad the program themes and locations were such a great fit for you!

    Sincerely,
    The CGEE Team, globaled@augsburg.edu

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

CGE: Peace & Social Justice in Central America

For every concept I have learnt in a textbook, I have a parallel face and story. Travelling with CGE is an incredible experience where learning stretches beyond the confines of the classroom, reinforced by speakers and stories that you would never be able to find on your own. It is one thing to learn about war, and another to live with the families directly affected by it. You are hopping from country to country, learning from each place. Yet at the same time, you get the chance to build long-lasting connections with your host families and communities around you. I could read something in the classroom one morning, and be talking about the exact same experience over dinner that night. It’s all one long, open-ended learning process.
This CGE is a phenomenal example of experiential education, where I could put aside the grades, and focus instead on delving into issues and topics I cared about. At every point, CGE asks you to make the connection between theory and your own personal life, creating an educational experience that just feels incredibly relevant. In every country, we have met with speakers, professors and families who opened up and shared their lives with you, teaching us how to fall in love with this part of the world.

  • Center for Global Education and Experience, Augsburg College responded to this review December 08, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    Thank you for this lovely and thoughtful reflection. Pleased to hear you have fallen in love with Central America and learned a lot at the same time!

    Sincerely,
    The CGEE Team, globaled@augsburg.edu

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

A life-changing adventure with Augsburg CGE

I would highly recommend this program for people who don't want a traditional study abroad program. It's a great trip for learning Spanish (great for beginners too!), getting immersed and experiencing many different Central American cultures. Not only do you get to visit three different countries you also get to see what the lives of the people that live there is truly like. You get to live with many different host families, both rural and urban, which was my favorite part of the trip. Another strong aspect of the trip is the way the classes are set up. They include experiential learning which includes; lectures, guest speakers, out of classroom trips, etc. I loved being able to take what we learned outside of the classroom and bringing what we learned outside the classroom in. The classes are engaging and set up in a non-traditional way, which makes learning more fun! The staff that work with CGE are amazing, attentive and easily become friends. They truly care about what the students need and want. We got to do a lot of fun things (that is covered by the cost) that made traveling fun and comforatble. CGE plans some group trips but there is plenty of time to do some short trips of your own to further explore the country. If you are ready for an Central American adventure, I would say choose this program!

  • Center for Global Education and Experience, Augsburg College responded to this review December 08, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    Thank you for your review on our program! We are so happy to hear about your positive experiences with us. We definitely strive for a non-traditional experience mixed with fun and academics, so happy to hear that was a good blend for you as well. Keep in touch and thanks again!

    Sincerely,
    The CGEE Team, globaled@augsburg.edu

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Augsburg abroad

Studying abroad through the CGE program has taught me a lot about social justice In Central America. This program students spend time in Guatemala Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Studying social justice has really changed the way I presive the world because of the emersove envirrment that we have been exposed to. We went to multiple communities while we have been abroad which have each shown me that most of the world is not like the U.S. And that it's actually a very different place that I had smack we. Our host families where part of the exeience because we where always emerged in the language. The classes where spanish that was taught in Guatemala, theory of liberation in Costa Rica and women study's and political science in Nicaragua. The class that challenged me the most was theory of liberation which is a religion course because I really had to think onside of the box. This trip has really changed how I am because of the people I have met and the experiances that I had. This trip is one of the best dessisions that I have made.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Social Justice in Central America

This program has been completely life changing. It has pushed me and made me see the world in new ways. I have met so many amazing speakers and stayed with such amazing generous families. It has showed me so much about social justice and about Latin America.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    7

I'm a changed person

Despite the constant moving around I feel I got to connect to each Central American country very closely. You will not become fluent in Spanish over the semester and we are in each place for too small an amount of time to make random local friends, but my Spanish definitely improved and I think I learned a lot from my host families. It can be a tiring semester but this program will teach you a lot about yourself, where you are at and where you have come from.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Social Justice Abroad

This program has completely changed the direction of my life. You have access to so much and if you commit yourself to it, you will get SO much out of this experience. Some moments of this program have been hard for me, I'll admit. But those moments have pushed me and made me grow. This program isn't one that'll just let you live a normal comfortable semester, just in another country. You will be exposed to so many amazing first-hand experiences, brilliant speakers, and loving, generous family stays. If you want a socially aware, anti-exploitation and anti-oppression program, choose this one.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

My time Abroad

We studied social Justice in Central America and also learned about the current economic situation and the political situation in the countries we visited. We first stayed in Guatemala for over a month and this experience studying spanish at a local school and staying with a family. Each family that I stayed with in the three countries where all very different in their family dynamics and in their political views however, they each taught me different lessons which are all very valuable in my opinion. In the spanish school we leaned about Guatemala's history and the wars that occurred all in spanish which was a very good immersive experience. During our time abroad we wen't on multiple trips to far out communities to learn their ways which really drove the fact home about immersing ourselves in the culture.
In Costa Rica I stayed with a family that was a little bit larger. At the school in Costa Rica we took a class called the theory of liberation which was a class that had to do with religion. This class had everyone thinking outside of the box and it was overall a very hard concept to grasp for most of the class. The CGE program does a lot of excursions and keeps the students very busy learning about the culture and making sure they are immersed in the culture fully. The villages that we went to in Costa Rica where more impoverished than the others which was very important for me to se because it challenged my view of the world and made me question my living situation because it is so different from that in the village.
In Nicaragua we too two courses one of which was women studies and the other being political science. these courses made me see the history of the wars and the struggle women have here in Nicaragua. The community that went to which was called "Mira Flor" was very beautiful but secluded which was a perfect learning environment to learn about the people and history of that community. It just another opportunity where the program is immersing you in the culture. The family I stayed with was a big family where everyone was coming and going however there was always people to talk to so your spanish is definitely used.
Coming to Central America has changed my view on the world and when I get back to the U.S I won't be surprised If I view many things differently that when I left. Taking the opportunity to go on a trip like this Is definitely one of the best decisions that I have made. I have meet so many people and had so many experiences that I would not have had if I had not come on this trip.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    10

Experiential Learning at its Best

I found this program to be an incredible asset to my undergraduate studies. The classes teach and challenge students to grow and become informed citizens and active participants in the change they seek. We learned experientially through engaging activities and speakers, acquired new knowledge about Central American countries and the people that make them up. We took classes in spanish, women's history, liberation theology and political science. They each added different aspects to our learning processes and had an incredible effect on our own thought processes. Still, you get out of the courses the work you put into them. If you don't try hard, you won't learn as much.
Ruth and the program coordinators made this program an even better experience than it could have been. Ruth is the perfect person to be the coordinator and travel with us and made me feel comfortable in every circumstance.
I didn't think that the Cantel aspect of the program was necessary to be as long as it was. Half of our 17-student group got sick and I didn't think it was worth going overnight given the health-risks. Those of us needing medical attention spent more than necessary getting the help that we needed because of the days we were in Cantel.
Still, I absolutely loved this program and found it to be a great part of my undergraduate studies, and will look back on this time with the best of memories, great friendships and a period where I grew in important and necessary ways.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    4

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    8

Central America

Ruth is the best part of this program!!!!! She truely made the experience a great one for me and helped me out when I needed it. The teachers need a lot of work. I had low expectations for the professors and they did not even meet those.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    8

Eye-opening, heart-warming, adventurous, educational, thought-provoking

There were so many memorable experiences! Probably visiting a cooperative farm in El Salvador called Nueva Esperanza. There our group heard the heart wrenching stories of the community, as well as how they had worked to build a new life and learn about their community now and where they were headed in their future.

I went on a 2 week J-term first through the same program. I found the organization of the program so wonderful that it inspired me to want learn more about social justice and other issues in the country, that I signed up for more. This first trip really was the tipping point in my current career path.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

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The Doors Are Open

This program is for those interested in honestly studying justice and injustice. It brings together an impressive number of meaningful speakers, excursions, and home-stays to expose us students to diverse perspectives and authentic experiential learning. One of the greatest strengths of the program is it does not let you stagnant, you keep moving and it forces you to stay in the moment, it prevents the study abroad trip from vanishing like a blur. However, the moving does not make long term relationships with the local people easy. As always, the relationships and experiences are what you make of them, your own volition is key.

The classes are put together well and the sequential nature works well. In my opinion, the most important piece though, is that their is respect for the interests of individuals in the group. If you feel it makes more sense of your education, to spend more time with a host family and less time studying, that decision will be respected. Class will not wait for you of course, but the respect is there.

This program is full of open doors, and while you have to be the one to walk through, the opportunities are authentic and accessible.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

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This program allows students to hear many voices of struggle and hope for social justice in the Central American context while exploring the complexities of social movements

This program truly has life-changing potential for all students who participate in it, because they are thrust into the struggles of those fighting for social justice in Central America. It gives a solid grounding in historical backgrounds and introduces particular subjects in depth that relate to the issues of the region. What makes the program special is the rural stays which literally allow students to talk oppressed individuals and those who have achieved successful community alternatives in rural settings. The contacts that CGE has to offer as resources for students is incredible.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

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Study Abroad in Central America - Spring 2014 Review

This was a fantastic program overall - so much adventure and learning in three beautiful countries that are rich with history and culture. I highly reccommend it to anyone interested in the region, in issues of social justice, and those who are looking to really have a close encounter with the cultures and peoples of these countries. We were pretty much constantly on the go, with lots to see and do. Students who are interested in learning about the social unrest that has affected the lives of Latin Americans should definitely consider this program. The speakers, weekend visits, urban and rural homestays, and the incredible connections with the small group are some things that set this trip apart from other abroad programs.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

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Open your eyes, mind and heart!

I am international student studying in the USA. This semester was studying abroad-abroad for me, and I loved it in every way. The program will push you, gently, out of your confort zones and allow you to see and experience different styles of lives in different locations. Keep in mind that you will also be spoiled at times in this beautiful part of the world! volcanos, lakes, mountains. hourses, beaches ...etc
This program will allow you to understand the impact that the USA and other forigen nations have on Central America. Experinces like this allow us to open out hearts and understand one another.
Be a global citizen and come!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    2

more spaces

For me, I had a lot of problems adjusting to the group. Going to a counselor really helped me. I wish there was more spaces to interact with other young people. I also wish there were more spaces outside of class to engage with the material.