My Journey to Guatemala

This is a guest blog post by a Mary Witt Scholarship recipient, Libby M. Libby recently returned from a customized program with Xavier University-Occupational Therapy to Guatemala in May 2017. Thanks for the great reflection, Libby!

My time in Guatemala was one that I will never forget. During the first week I had the opportunity to live with a host family. My host mother was beyond hospitable and kind. She made delicious meals and we talked through the nigh about our families and friends. On my last day staying with her she even allowed me to try on traditional Guatemalan clothing. But I think my favorite part of staying with my host family was being able to try the delicious homemade hot chocolate, which consisted of chocolate made from my host grandmother who makes her own natural chocolate. It was absolutely amazing. The time even allowed me to improve my awful Spanish, through hand gestures and broken Spanish I somehow got through the week communicating with my host family who did not speak any English at all. Hopefully one day I will be able to visit them again.

Continue reading “My Journey to Guatemala”

Connecting with your Roots

This post comes from Augsburg student, Kitana H, recipient of the CGEE Religious Studies Scholarship. This is her reflection from the week-long program in Nicaragua, “Faith, Vocation, and Social Change in Central America”. Thank you to Kitana for sharing!


“Today is the day where I touch a region

Where half of me is from

I’ve been so lost with my own identity

That part of this trip may open a page

Of a book of reclaiming my identity and history”

Student with arms open on a hillside

Continue reading “Connecting with your Roots”

Reflections from Nicaragua

This post comes from Mary Witt Scholarship awardee and Augsburg College student, Emily O. She recently returned from an Augsburg short term program, Faith, Vocation and Social Change in Central America to Augsburg’s Global Site in Nicaragua. Thanks to Emily for sharing!

Grassy knoll overlooking lake
View in Nicaragua

Here is my written summary, discussing 3 separate “slices of life,” or important experiences in Nicaragua and what they taught me:

My first slice of life had to do with the speaker at Cafe las Sonrisas, Tio Antonio.  As someone who grew up in an area considered “developed” like me, I was shocked that he even moved to Nicaragua in the first place.  After the initial confusion as to why he would move to a country where things are so different, I was amazed and inspired by the way he lived out his vocation and listened to his calling in life.  Continue reading “Reflections from Nicaragua”

Global Coffee Culture Trip

The following is a summary of a recent Customized Program organized by CGEE for Providence College, by student Danielle H., recipient of the Mary Witt Scholarship. This program took place in March of 2017. Photos from Danielle as well. We hope all participants had a wonderful time and learned a lot on the program!

The Global Coffee Culture Trip I took with my class, organized by Augsburg College’s Center for Global Education and Experience, was life-changing.  Throughout the trip, I was immersed in Guatemala’s rich culture, history, and language.  I have never become so close with people in a class in such a short period of time or learned so much in such a short period of time.

Panoramic view in Guatemala

Continue reading “Global Coffee Culture Trip”

Meeting Family in Guatemala: An Alumni Story

This blog post was originally presented to CGEE staff as a thank you letter. We were very touched by Stephanie’s experience, and wanted to share with others. Posted here with permission from the author, Stephanie Gonzales-Pérez. The words have not been altered in any way.


I wanted to take the time to extend my gratitude through this letter. I am a recent alum of the CGEE Central America Program of Spring 2016. The program itself was truly life changing and as cliché as that may sound there are no other words to better describe it.

The mission of your programs is to give us another lens and to decolonize our minds which is a prime reason why I was interested in the program. Along with the constant recommendation from my study abroad advisor, Ann Butwell. Which is why I want to thank Berea College and Augsburg’s Center for Global Education and Experience because without all your help this would not have been possible. I was hesitant at first because of the cost, but both institutions provided me with scholarships that reduced the cost to nearly nothing.

Aside from how perfect the program already was due to my passion for social justice I was also drawn in because the program went to Guatemala specifically to Quetzaltenango, or also known as Xela, which is where my maternal grandmother lives. I had told my family about my trip and they were beyond ecstatic to finally meet in person after only having contact through letters, phone calls and Skype my entire life. I will be honest I had originally planned to go in the spring of 2015, but I felt guilty going and backed out because my mother has not seen my grandmother for over 25 years and it didn’t feel right to go before she did. My mother had the chance to return home; however, she made the ultimate sacrifice when I was 10 and that was not to move back to Guatemala with my father. She knew that the United States could provide us with more opportunities than her own country could. Continue reading “Meeting Family in Guatemala: An Alumni Story”

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.

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”

Mayan Spirituality and Pottery: Student Poetry

This poem was written by Augsburg College student, Bryce Nelson, after an experience abroad on a short term program to Guatemala January 2016, “Mayan Spirituality and Pottery”. Bryce is a senior and math major. 

Dear Lord,
We ask for your guidance, we ask for your grace
May the task at hand please keep at pace
May it be strong, may it be true
For all you have done, it’s the least we can do
For this we thank, for this we remember
To come together, we too must render
A breathtaking view in Guatemala. Photo from CGEE archives.
A breathtaking view in Guatemala. Photo from CGEE archives.

Feminism in Guatemala

Enjoy this photo and description shared with us by Claire Bransky, a St. Olaf student currently abroad on our Central America program!

Claire, Ainsley, Judith, Guatemala 2016

This is my classmate Ainsley Kilpatrick, my professor Judith García, and me singing “El sexo débil” as part of our final for Women in Latino Literature at Casa Xelajú in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. We spent five weeks reading novels, discussing feminism, and learning about gender norms as the first segment of Social Change in Central America. Ainsley and I decided to make our final presentation about the plurality of feminisms – a controversial topic in Guatemala – and we finished by singing our new favorite song.

As Judith loves to say, “Mujeres al poder!”

Augsburg Nursing in Nicaragua: Photos!

Augsburg’s nursing program went to Nicaragua in March 2016. Here are some photos from their time abroad! Photo credit Augsburg CGEE staff member Juan Carlos Lopez.