Augsburg University's Center for Global Education and Experience


Their Roots: The Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) is affiliated with Augsburg University, a private liberal arts and sciences college located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to its office in Minneapolis, CGEE runs programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Namibia and South Africa. CGEE has developed community partnerships in these locations with a wide range of individuals and organizations to serve as community leaders.

Their Quest: Augsburg's Center for Global Education and Experience provides cross-cultural educational opportunities to foster critical analysis of local and global conditions. The goal is for personal and systemic changes to take place leading to a more just and sustainable world.



Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua changed my life path

I was honored to participate in this program when it was "Social Change in Central America" in 2016. My experience in the program dramatically improved by Spanish, deepened my understanding of Central American history, and gave me concrete lenses and tools through which I still analyze social movements. While I was on the trip I learned about the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), which became my movement home. I now live in Guatemala. I would highly recommend this program for young organizers who want to deepen their internationalist practice.

What would you improve about this program?
I deeply hope that the country conditions one day make it possible for this program to return to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where it used to take place.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Valuable Experience

I had an incredible experience during my time in the CGE Cuernavaca program. The content from my classes addressed issues that are still relevant 7 years later (such as migration, gender politics, globalization, and pre-Columbian art and more). I had a very unique opportunity to intern with a local plastics printmaker who creates beautiful social justice pieces.

This work has inspired me and continued to carry on as inspiration personally as an artist, art historian, and for someone who works in the non-profit section in Minnesota working for Indigenous artists and community development. It was an incredible interactive learning environment to be able to study and then be able to visit sites and meet many individuals from different communities.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have attended the program earlier in my academic career to be able to spend another semester there.
Yes, I recommend this program

A Different (And Amazing) Abroad Experience

The semester in Central America in an amazing experience that will bring you off the beaten path to explore places most folks from the US don't go. In the program, you learn directly from communities (and your tuition supports those communities directly). Students are encouraged to ask questions and develop their own opinions, while at the same time centering justice. The semester group is small, and you will grow close. The classes are amazing, but intense - they take a lot of time, but also most folks end up with good grades. Acceptable to all levels of Spanish speakers - and everyone will go home knowing a LOT more Spanish. All in all, an amazing experience - I made great friends, grew to know the world more deeply, and came home with a passion to do justice work in the US.

What would you improve about this program?
There is a lot of traveling, so you may not make deep connections in every place you go. Also, at times the safety precautions can feel stifling - but also, the program is very safe.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Exploring My Backyard

This program was one of three that I had applied and been accepted to. The fact that we travel through three different countries - Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua in that specific order - led me to decide on accepting this program through the Center for Global Education at now-Augsburg University. Additionally, I chose this program because I wanted to learn more about the sociopolitical history, traditions and customs, and the culinary richness that exists in Central America. I am Mexican American, but had never traveled south of the Mexico border and wanted to learn more about the countries that exist in our backyard. Guatemala was beautiful and challenging because it had recently freed itself from a 36-year-old civil war in 1996, and the remnants of such conflict were still evident in the places we visited. However, the people I met there were amazing. Costa Rica is also an interesting place to explore. Very touristy, but full of humbled people, especially those you will meet at the LaCarpio community in San Jose. I must admit, Nicaragua was my favorite place to visit and explore. The country experienced a startling social revolution in the 1970s that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship, and Nicaraguenses were ambivalent showing pride or reservation about the Sandinista takeover in the country. Batahola del Norte, the community you will stay in, is also a working-class neighborhood that reminded me of my home in some aspects, so it was nice to be in a space where I felt comfortable despite being a foreigner.

If you are thinking about applying to this program, do it! But before you do, just know that you will be traveling a lot, which is hectic at times, but you become accustomed to it and learn how to pack lightly (very important skill!). You will be spending most, if not all, of your time with your cohort of travelers for the entirety of the program, which can get awkward, but is also a beautiful thing when you bond over the activities you do or the places that you visit together. Lastly, you will be spending most of your time in an urban setting, but a handful of days are set apart and spent in rural areas. The change of scenery can be a tough and quick transition for some, but the people you meet and the stories you hear are worth any bit of discomfort you might feel in the beginning.

If you are still on the fence about going on this program even after reading this and glancing over my pictures, feel free to reach out. I'd love to have a conversation with anyone about this program.

What would you improve about this program?
Finding a way to explore Managua, Nicaragua a bit more would have been appreciated. The infrastructure of the city makes it so that you need to travel via a motor vehicle if you wish to explore the city, but having access to more historic sites or restaurants would have supplemented the content we were learning inside of the classroom tremendously. All in all, though, I would do this program all over again if I had the chance to. It was a life-changing experience that put social issues rampant in Central America and in the US into a clearer perspective.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Social Change in Central America

From the moment I first heard about this program, I knew it was the study abroad experience for me. Learning about social oppression, political revolution, regional hegemony, and societal transformation has been the focus of my studies in the U.S., so this program fit perfectly for the real-world experience I was seeking. As a Politics and Latin American Studies double-major, I found the lessons compelling and the community experiential components integral to my learning in the program. From one-on-one interactions to large group activities, I learned more about the realities of systematic oppression in three months than I had in the three years I had been studying at school. This program is challenging in many ways and it inspires you to think about your own position in this world and the ways in which you can use your voice to advocate for those less privileged than yourself. This is not a typical study abroad semester -- it is much more than that. It was the only program I applied to and I have recommended it to many younger friends looking for a meaningful and transformative study abroad experience.

What would you improve about this program?
There were some kinks and bumps in program management along the way, but it did not hinder the overall experience of the semester for me.


Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

The program took me to three different countries: Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Because I did not travel much growing up, a program that traveled to various locations attracted me more than other programs that only took place in one country.

The program also focused on the discourse of peace, community engagement, and social justice, which are values that I align myself with. Given my low exposure to the culture and history of Central America, I wanted to learn more about our neighbors living in our backyard.

What did your program provider and your university assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My home institution, Oberlin College, prepped me for being exempted from coursework for a semester so that I could participate in the study abroad program.

Then, Augsburg College, the program provider, accepted me into the program (woo!) but helped me fill out the paperwork needed to confirm my participation in their program. Additionally, they sent me a manual that provided insightful information about what I needed to take with me during my travels in Central America, what to expect while I am there, and provided me with a preliminary itinerary.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

You will be traveling often, so you need not overpack because it is easier to carry your stuff with you if you pack lightly. But if you find yourself overpacking, know that you will learn how to pack lightly during this trip. That is one of the unintended gems of the program- learning to live a simplistic life and not overpacking with stuff you do not need while traveling to different areas in three countries.

Clothes are one thing people tend to overpack, but know that opportunities to thrift while abroad are available and donating some of the clothes after the program is over in Nicaragua is also a possibility.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The average day varies because you are learning about a variety of topics such as history, women’s studies, liberation theology, to name a few, in different countries.

You will spend time in the classroom, travel to historical sites, and venture off to meet with speakers that live in those countries. Typically, your evenings are free for you to spend time with your host family, travel elsewhere within the city like the mall or the movies, or to get some work done before class the next day.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I feared feeling homesick. I am Mexican-American and had not gone anywhere south of Mexico. I overcame it by finding parallels between my experiences at home in Chicago, in Mexico, and those I was having in Central America.

I spoke Spanish fluently, so that helped me communicate with people easily and was able to feel comfortable in a foreign space while I visited and learned about their culture, history, and quotidian lifestyles.

Write and answer your own question.

Would you do the same program over again if the opportunity presented itself?

Without a doubt. Guatemala was beautiful and challenging because it had recently freed itself from a 36-year-old civil war in 1996, and the remnants of such conflict were still evident in the places we visited. However, the people I met there were amazing. Costa Rica is also an interesting place to explore. Very touristy, but full of humbled people, especially those you will meet at the LaCarpio community in San Jose.

The plan is to soon return to these Central American countries. They hold a special place in my heart after going abroad through this program.

I must admit, Nicaragua was my favorite place to visit and explore. The country experienced a startling social revolution in the 1970s that overthrew the Somoza dictatorship, and Nicaraguenses were ambivalent showing pride or reservation about the Sandinista takeover in the country.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jessica Haas

Before working for CGE, Jessica served as an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer and earned a Masters in International Education from from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. Taking after her parents, Jessica says traveling has always been a part of her life.

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Jessica: I studied abroad twice - a semester in Beijing, China and a summer in Vilnius, Lithuania. There was no other choice for me - literally (my parents required each of their three children to pursue an international experience while in college) and figuratively (I never imagined NOT studying abroad).

If we were to produce a TV show titled, "When Studying Abroad Goes Wrong!", what do you think our first episode should be about?

Jessica:I think it should be about students who go abroad physically, but don't REALLY go abroad emotionally, mentally, and relationship-wise. In other words, I think it is unfortunate when students from the U.S. do not make an effort to go outside their program to engage with local people in a meaningful way. Related, students often spend so much time online that it reduces the exposure to the new community. Hence, going abroad without REALLY going abroad. That is about the most "wrong" thing to do when studying abroad because students often regret this when they get home, realizing that perhaps they did not make the most out of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Many students express interest in going abroad, but never follow through. What insight can you offer students to help them achieve their study abroad goals?

Jessica: My biggest piece of advice would be to plan, plan, plan. And plan EARLY. If you want to study abroad, start thinking about your to-do list the moment you step on campus. How do your classes need to be planned so that you can take a semester away? What funding and aid will transfer? How can I work with my parents or guardians to help them see the value in the experience? These types of tasks cannot be left to the fall semester of junior year if you plan to study abroad spring semester of junior year, or you take the risk of running out of time.

Which country do you think is an underrated study abroad destination?

Jessica: I think Mexico is underrated by students because they do not think it is exotic. Or they think, "I have been there before!" But most people only experience beach communities or perhaps a border community. There is so much more to Mexico. In addition, if your goal in study abroad is to increase your professional skills and knowledge, it should be noted Mexicans are the largest immigrant population in the U.S. - students will live alongside and work with Mexicans on a daily basis. It makes a lot of sense to study in Mexico to better understand a culture and people that will likely be a significant part of your life, even after you return home.

As an alum of CGE's semester program in southern Africa, I can definitely echo Jessica's acknowledgement of CGE's commitment to building relationships with locals and other program participants to cultivate a community built on openminded-ness. Participants are asked to reflect on their impact on the environment and world. Not only were sometimes taboo and difficult topics discussed, but CGE coordinates many opportunities to take action - the kind which "encourages individuals to live as active agents of history, and hence, fosters social transformation rather than the maintenance of the status quo."

Featured Programs:

  • Semester in Nicaragua, El Salvador, AND Guatemala - This multi-country semester program emphasizes social change in Central America. By exploring first hand various approaches to economic, environmental, and social justice, students walk away with a better understanding of the richness and diversity of this area. Program also includes multiple home stays in each location.
  • Fall semester in Mexico - A more business minded program, here you will debate globalization, U.S. immigration policy, and sustainable economic development in the heart of a country that is more than just a spring break destination.
  • Semester in South Africa and Windhoek, Namibia - See and feel the beat of these transitional nations as they work to build a democracy. With the legacies of apartheid and extreme income inequalities challenging their development, you can converse directly with a local on one of your three home stays to hear first hand accounts of the major struggles in their recent history.

Our programs provide opportunities to expand your worldview and to challenge your perceptions about global justice and human liberation. Issues of social responsibility are at the heart of all of our programming.

Professional Associations

The Forum on Education Abroad Logo
Institute of International Education Logo