CGEE Faculty Present at National Conference

Dr. Ann Lutterman-Aguilar, Director of CGEE Mexico, will be presenting at the Annual CIEE Conference in Los Angeles, CA. The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) is a nonprofit leader in the field of Study Abroad and Intercultural Exchange.

On Friday, November 18th, Ann will be co-presenting on, “Intercultural Faculty Training for the Development of Innovative Global Initiatives.”  From the conference website:

During this session, we’ll explore resources and frameworks that allow participants to identify the specific needs of their home campuses in relation to implementing intercultural and diversity initiatives. Intercultural competence has an impact on educators’ daily duties and projects, allowing them to bridge the cultural differences present on campuses and in education abroad programs. This type of competence helps to develop innovative initiatives and to align with global learning outcomes and goals. Furthermore, intercultural competence fosters reflection and creativity with the aim of developing thoughtful and distinctive new projects. Panelists will present models for intercultural training, lead discussions on best practices in this area, examine projects developed as a result of intercultural training, and review intercultural tools that can help when implementing new programs.

Congratulations to Ann on being chosen to present at this National Conference!

Students sitting outside along balcony
Ann Lutterman Aguilar leads students in reflection; Cuernavaca, Mexico

CGEE Represented at Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

Joe Connelly, consultant and frequent leader of Customized Programs for the Center for Global Education and Experience in Nicaragua, will be presenting at the Annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, November 12th, Joe will be co-presenting on, “Beyond the Break: Moving to Action and Advocacy”. From IFTJ’s website:

Did you have an amazing experience on an Immersion Trip over a break but aren’t sure what to do with that now? Do you want to take that experience to the next level and see how you can use it as a building block to get the most out of the Teach In? Join us in this pre-session to go beyond your break. Reflect on you what learned on your break, hear from a service immersion host site about what they’d like to see people doing after they leave, and see where your gifts and passions might put you on the Social Change Wheel and how that can turn into advocacy.

We are honored that Joe will be representing us at this event!

Student group outside in Nicaragua
Joe Connelly leads a lecture for students in Granada, Nicaragua. Spring 2015.

What is Day of the Dead?

This blog post was written by our International Resident Assistant in Mexico, Amber Ramirez. 

Mexican Sugar Skulls

Dedicated to honoring the souls and spirits of deceased family and friends, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), is a period of remembrance, celebration and spiritual regeneration.  This ritual is commonly celebrated on November 1st, which is primarily the day of the “little angels” or deceased children, and November 2nd, All Souls Day and day of deceased adults. Over the years, the Dia de los Muertos, has become a combination of Pre-Hispanic beliefs and rituals and Catholic practices and symbols. Currently more than 40 indigenous groups in Mexico celebrate el Dia de los Muertos, through diverse rituals. The Aztecs honored the souls of their dead, viewing it as a celebration of life on the ninth month of the solar calendar, August. They made offerings, or ofrendas, in commemoration of loved ones. The souls of the deceased would come back from the paradises of diverse Gods—they went to these paradises based on their form of death. Those who died during combat, as prisoners, and while giving birth would go to Omeyocan (Paradise of the Sun). Individuals who died in association with water—drowning, sacrificed to Tlaloc (God of Rain), or during a storm— would go to Tlalocán (Paradise of the God of Rain). Children went to Chichihuacuauhco where they drank milk from a special tree that had milk droplets. Meanwhile, individuals who died of natural causes went to Mictlán. Continue reading “What is Day of the Dead?”

Chapultepec Zoo

This past weekend our students and some of our staff members visited the Chapultepec Zoo (Zoológico de Chapultepec) in Mexico City. The Chapultepec Zoo is located in Chapultepec Park (Bosque de Chapultepec).  Chapultepec Park is more than double the size of Central Park in New York! Chapultepec Park is approximately 1695 acres of beautiful flora with many species of trees and plants, as well as fountains and outdoor activities.

Chapultepec Park is considered “a lung of Mexico City” as it produces continuous oxygen, filters water for the city, and helps regulate the temperature in the area. The Chapultepec Zoo was founded in 1923 and later renovated between 1992-1994. It is a free zoo! It is home to diverse species, including lemurs, hippopotamus, antelopes, and endangered species such as the volcano rabbit, Mexican wolf, and jaguar. One of the most famous exhibits is that of the Giant Panda. Currently there are three females giant pandas at the zoo: Xiu Hua (Born in 1985), Shuan Shuan (Born in 1987), and Xin Xin (Born in 1990). Luckily, we saw two out of three! We all had a blast and students are excited to go back and explore more of Chapultepec Park!

Cuernavaca Corner: The Beautiful Outdoors


Student looking at waterfalls

Welcome back to our weekly Cuernavaca, Mexico feature the “Cuernavaca Corner”! Today’s post comes from Brittney Westgard, alumni of our Social Work program and current volunteer in Mexico. Brittney is an Augsburg College Alumni.

This week we explored some of the most beautiful parks, natural attractions, and outdoor locations in Cuernavaca!

Jumping right in, let’s explore Jardin Borda right across the ravine from CEMAL located in downtown Cuernavaca. Jardin Borda was built in the late 1700’s, in which had various uses over the years such as: a summer house, a hotel, a restaurant, and now a botanic garden. Overseen by the Department of Culture of the State of Morelos, Jardin Borda is not only a great place to relax, explore, and read, but a popular location for cultural events such as theater productions, concerts, and art exhibits. Continue reading “Cuernavaca Corner: The Beautiful Outdoors”

Southern Africa Fall 2016: Week 2 Reflections

This is an excerpt from the student-assigned blog for our Southern Africa semester, which can be found on the website “blog spot” at:

Week Two: The Unseen Colors of the Rainbow Nation

by Imani Briscoe, St. Joseph’s University & Kitty McGirr, Univ. of California, San Diego

… it is very intriguing that, even with the acknowledged importance of the history of South Africa’s “Rainbow Nation”, discussions surrounding the indigenous people and colonization of what is now known as Cape Town rarely occur. Most of what we find in the American education history books regarding the changes Cape Town has gone through seems to focus on the racial issues of blacks and whites. Continue reading “Southern Africa Fall 2016: Week 2 Reflections”

Nicaragua Security Update

This post was written by Mark Lester, Regional Director of Central America, office located in Nicaragua. This is in response to the US State Department’s Travel Alert dated June 29, 2016 for Nicaragua, which has since been taken down after the warning expired. 

Within a seven-day period in June, the Nicaraguan government expelled 3 US officials, and 6 foreigners. The first of the three US officials was Evan Ellis, a researcher professor of Latin American Studies for the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, whose research focus is the canal. He apparently had notified the Nicaraguan government of his visit, and arrived on a diplomatic passport on the same flight as a couple of other US officials on diplomatic passports, But these latter two worked for US Customs, and had arranged their visit with Nicaraguan private enterprise. They were arriving to do a regular inspection of cargo being sent to the US to facilitate the security review required post-Sept 11. Continue reading “Nicaragua Security Update”

A Note of Thanks

The Central America team would like to share with you a recent letter they received from an alumni of the program, Rachel, from Fordham University. This is an excerpt from Rachel’s thank you letter. Bolded emphasis ours. 

I just wanted to write this email to say thank you. It’s been about nine months since we left Nicaragua and I’ve now had ample time to reflect on my experience there. Since then, I’ve also studied abroad in South Africa on a program run through my university. This immediate jump to a semester in an entirely different context took some adjustment, but ultimately enabled me to place both experiences in unique contexts and explore the different ways study abroad programs can be run.

Now that I’m home and I’ve had time to reflect, I can say wholeheartedly that CGEE in Central America was the defining experience of my undergrad time and the most impressive program I’ve been on. I’m thoroughly convinced that this program lives up to its ideals and mission statements in so many different areas, ranging from support for the students to careful interaction with all the communities it touches. I have been on several other study abroad programs, in Europe, China, and South Africa, and nowhere else have I felt so supported and also so encouraged to step outside my comfort zone and open myself to opportunities and challenges that could forever change my perspective.  Continue reading “A Note of Thanks”

Southern Africa Fall 2016: Week 1 Reflections

This is an excerpt from the student-assigned blog for our Southern Africa semester, which can be found here

Week One: Reflections on the Motherland

by Chiara White-Mink, Clark University & Anne-Claire Merkle-Scotland, Clark University

Apartheid ended 22 years ago when the first democratic elections were held in 1994, the same year I was born. For a nation that experienced so much horror in throughout apartheid these elections marked a new era of possibility and prosperity. That hope was shared throughout the world, when the message of a newly united nation travelled half-way across the world to the classrooms and schools I attended. However as residents and students in the United States, we should be well aware that change, especially social change, may take years and even generations to truly happen. Therefore, we were exposed to the realities of post-apartheid South Africa and the continuously growing economic challenges and disparities faced by South Africans, particularly the black citizens still facing severe effects from Apartheid.

Continue reading “Southern Africa Fall 2016: Week 1 Reflections”