Peace, Justice, and Community Engagement

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Estelí, Nicaragua
Estelí, Nicaragua

About

Travel to both Guatemala and Costa Rica on this experiential program that is rooted in social justice, and focused on direct community engagement. It provides a comparative look at the Central America region, its immigrant communities and grassroots movements for social change.
We get you out of the classroom and into the community with travel to multiple cities, visits to museums, local groups, and guest speakers. Examples include: Representatives of feminist movements, coffee and tobacco farms, indigenous communities, student and youth groups, and many more!
Participants will stay with host families in each country – one in a rural setting, and one in an urban setting. This is core to the CGEE philosophy of truly hearing the voices of multiple people, by facilitating encounters with people who have been marginalized. No Spanish language required.
*Beginning fall 2020 will be adding a two-week travel component to Havana, Cuba, for our Latin American Liberation Theology course.

Highlights
  • Host family stays
  • Engagement with community
  • Focus on social justice
  • Two-country program
  • Excursions included

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 4 reviews
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
Ari
10/10
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.
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Brian
10/10
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
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Megan
10/10
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.
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Ingrid
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible perspective-changing abroad experience

Oftentimes students travel abroad and wind up drinking a lot, partying, and although they are in a different country, they speak with and live among people who are very much like themselves. This program is a true chance to study, learn, grow, and change your perspective on life in a country different from your own. Each country has something different and important to teach you, inviting students to utilize language skills and build real and meaningful connections with host families, professors, and other members of the communities you live in. Staying in a blend of urban and rural settings, the beauty you're exposed to is never ending and will stay with you long after you go home. The lessons I've learned from my time with CGEE in Central America have changed my life and what I want my impact on the world to be as I grow older. If you are looking to make the absolute most of an abroad experience- this is the program for you. Get ready to have your privilege challenged, your passion for social justice engaged, and to get to know a part of the world that is vibrant, full of love for life, and integral to the world's success.

What would you improve about this program?
Longer rural home stays (maybe optional?)

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About 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...