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Staff and Faculty Spotlight: Ann Lutterman-Aguilar

Name: Ann Lutterman-Aguilar

Position/Title: CGE-Mexico Site Director and Instructor

Primary duties:  Teaching Religion and Women’s Studies; leading short-term programs, including courses in Cuba; overseeing the administration of the Mexico site, helping to design new educational programs and regularly developing and maintaining contact with potential guest speakers in Mexico.

In what year did you start with CGE?: 1993 (21 years ago)

Share your educational and work history: I received my doctorate in International Feminist Theologies from the San Francisco Theological Seminary (UC-Berkeley) and earned my M.Div. with a focus on Liberation Theologies from Yale Divinity School, as well as my BA in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College.  I also completed a certificate program in Intercultural Communication.  Prior to joining Augsburg’s CGE-Mexico team in 1993, I worked in the United Campus Ministry at Penn State University and in a refugee camp in El Salvador during the civil war  I have also worked as a volunteer with a wide range of non-profits advocating peace, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and human rights in general.

Where are you from?: I was born in Wisconsin and then raised in the Washington, DC area with one year in California as a child.  After college, I lived in DC, El Salvador, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.  I then moved to Mexico, where I became an immigrant. I am now a dual citizen of the US and Mexico.

Most rewarding part of your work with CGE:  I love working with CGE, which is why I have stayed so long! The most rewarding part of the work is helping to bridge diverse cultures and world views. I feel honored and blessed to help introduce and interpret guest speakers who are leaders in their own communities and/or professions and to assist in the educational transformation of travel seminar participants and students.  I feel great when I see students’ positive reactions to guest speakers who represent minority voices that often go unheard.  I love hearing from students years after their experiences in Mexico or Cuba because almost everyone is doing very exciting things to make this world a better place.  I especially love it when former students come back to Mexico to visit and bring partners and children.  I also love hearing from Mexican host families and speakers about how much they appreciate their experiences with our students.

Most challenging part of your work with CGE:  I think the biggest challenges are financial: I wish we had even more scholarships so that the experiences could be less expensive and more people could participate.  I also wish that the U.S. State Department did not have a travel warning against Mexico because many colleges currently do not allow their students to study in Mexico.

While all CGE visits and resource people are important and valuable, are there any particular stories/encounters that are particularly poignant for you personally or for our participants?:  It is very hard to pinpoint just one or two of the many inspiring people or groups who often talk to our groups.  One of my favorite experiences is going to CIVAC (the industrial park in Cuernavaca) to have a huge, nutritious and delicious Mexican buffet lunch made by the women’s liberation theology-based group Luz y Libertad (Light and Liberty).  Before lunch they talk about the work they do – teaching economically poor women how to make inexpensive, nutritious meals, including lots of vegetarian food made with soy; teaching arts and crafts that women can sell in order to become more economically independent; and facilitating women’s self-esteem workshops. After our conversations, we celebrate with an amazing meal in which we get to taste almost al the dishes that they teach women to make.  They also teach desert-making so that women can sell desserts.  Yum!

Hobbies/personal interests:  I love to travel, read, play piano, sing, hike, and bike.  I loved working with Augsburg Exercise Science Professor Tony Clapp on two mountain-climbing trips in Mexico, as well as helping to arrange for another travel seminar to bike in Mexico.

Where is your favorite place to travel and/or what is your dream destination for the future?:  I love traveling within Mexico, as there are so many diverse places.  My dream destinations for the future are Tierra del Fuego in South America, Alaska, and China, among others.