This post was written by CGEE staff member Lucy Hardaker, who works at the Minneapolis office at Augsburg College.
The CGEE Central America semester students are some of the busiest study abroad students around. Not only are they going through an experiential program, but they are doing so amid a busy travel schedule! It was always difficult for me to fully grasp what a “Day in the Life” of a student must be like, but after my short visit to Nicaragua, I am beginning to understand.
First up was a full day of Nicaraguan sightseeing in the cities of Granada and Masaya, including the Masaya Volcano. This was a great introduction for both me and the students, as they had just arrived from Costa Rica only a few days earlier.
The next day, I learned what the academics of CGEE are all about. Students began the day with discussion, and then were taken to a local non-profit center (Coordinadora Civil), where we listened to a guest panel about getting the local youth involved with their country’s politics and social movements.
After lunch, I was given a tour of the Batahola Norte neighborhood where CGEE semester students stay while in Managua. Ruth Garrido guided me around multiple host families’ homes. Although I do not speak Spanish (Ruth translated for me), it was clear to see from happiness on each one of their faces that they thoroughly enjoyed hosting students.
The next day, I saw experiential education in action. Class began with a short film on the history of Augusto Sandino, followed by a discussion about the film, and a previously assigned reading. After the discussion, students were brought to Loma de Tiscapa – the site on which Sandino was executed, where there now stands a monument to him that watches over the entire city.
After only a few short days with CGEE Central America Students, I was finally able to see why our programs are so transformative with my own two eyes. Not only were the Central America staff some of the most friendly, welcoming, and dedicated individuals I have ever met, but the knowledge of the region’s history and culture combined with experiential education model is one of the best ways for students to truly understand the culture in which they are studying.