Student Profile: Caleb

Caleb completed two of CGEE’s semester programs in a year, Central America and Southern Africa! Here is his profile with reflections on what he learned during his year abroad:

Student headshot photoName: Caleb Encarnacion-Rivera

School: Clark University

CGEE Programs:

Social Change in Central America: Exploring Peace, Justice, and Community Engagement (Spring 2016)

Nation Building, Globalization and Decolonizing the Mind (Fall 2016)

Major: International Development

Most valuable experience: There are so many things I found valuable during my time abroad with CGEE.  In Central America, the most valuable experience was being able to live in homestays.  Homestays allowed me to build and cultivate long lasting relationships I will cherish for the rest of my life.  Living in homestays enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of the regions I was living in through the lens of local people.  Living in my home stays gave me new family members that I will never forget.  In Namibia, my internship was definitely the highlight of my experience.  I absolutely loved every moment of being able to serve in the city I was living in as well, as learn and grown from directly working with Namibian youth.  My internship gave me the ability to not only learn or study in a foreign country, but gain work experience, and establish new networks beyond that of the United States.

Why encourage others to study abroad with CGEE: Both programs are life changing in numerous ways.  I will cherish these moments for the rest of my life.  If you are looking for an authentic study abroad experience these are the programs for you!

#AuggiesGoGlobal Featured Student: Elise

Did you know – as an Augsburg College student, you have access to study abroad programs in 90 different countries around the globe (including USA programs)? Here is one Auggie’s global story (Returned and want to be featured? Email us at to share your global story):

Elise Abroad



English Literature/Creative Writing



When did you study abroad?

Spring 2015 semester

Where, and on which program, did you go abroad?

Queen Mary University London/ IES direct enrollment

Continue reading “#AuggiesGoGlobal Featured Student: Elise”

#AuggiesGoGlobal Featured Student: Asher L.

Did you know – as an Augsburg College student, you have access to study abroad programs in 90 different countries around the globe (including USA programs)? Here is one Auggie’s global story in our new blog segment #AuggiesGoGlobal:

Asher L Profile PhotoMajor:
English LLT

French, GSWS

When did you study abroad?
Fall 2015 semester

Where, and on which program, did you go abroad?

CEA Paris

What made that program a good fit for you?

I chose CEA because they had a variety of homestay, residence hall, and apartment options for housing. In addition, they had an abundance of different class options. CEA also brings students on excursions throughout your abroad experience, which are all included in the program fee. The staff was incredibly kind and helpful in navigating culture shock and everyday life in a different country.

Continue reading “#AuggiesGoGlobal Featured Student: Asher L.”

#AuggiesGoGlobal Featured Student: Danny P.

Did you know – as an Augsburg College student, you have access to study abroad programs in 90 different countries around the globe (including USA programs)? Here is one Auggie’s global story in our new blog segment #AuggiesGoGlobal:

Danny P - 2
Danny in Dublin


English literature, language, theory, and creative writing

Business administration

When did you study abroad?
Fall 2015 semester

Where, and on which program, did you go abroad?
Dublin– Writer’s Program




Why did you choose that program? 

I chose this program because it fit perfectly with both of my majors. It was a good fit because it helped me to get credits toward graduating and also was a good country to live in for my first time out of the US. While it is not extremely similar to the states, Ireland offered some familiarity to me as also being a westernized country, which made the process of culture shock a bit easier to handle.

Continue reading “#AuggiesGoGlobal Featured Student: Danny P.”

Transformative, Hands-On Experience; Alumni Profile

The following is a profile & reflection of Olivia Boerschinger, Augsburg College Alumni, Metro Urban Studies major, who completed a “Study Away in the USA” program with Augsburg’s partner organization, HECUA

Olivia Boerschinger, HECUA Auggie Alumni


Olivia interned with Catholic Charities Refugee Services while participating on HECUA’s program “Inequality in America” during the spring semester of 2013.

She now works for Project for Pride in Living running programs for children transitioning from homelessness to a PPL supportive housing development in North Minneapolis. Olivia is currently supervising a HECUA intern enrolled in the Inequality in America program.

Continue reading “Transformative, Hands-On Experience; Alumni Profile”

Alumni Profile: Hannah Petterson, Study Abroad in Central America

An interview with Hannah Pettersen, Augsburg College, ’15.  Hannah studied abroad with CGE in Central America in 2014.

two students pose with horses
Hannah’s study abroad selfie in Central America!

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Since high school, going abroad was a dream of mine, and I was lucky enough to be able to fulfill that dream. I have such wanderlust, and going abroad only enhanced that.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Central America?

I was not looking for the typical study abroad experience, and this program fed into my craving for something different. Being able to live and learn in 3 different countries was remarkable, as well as being able to experience and see many things that changed my life. As a Sociology major, all of the topics that we learned about and discussed were incredibly relevant to what I am passionate about and I could not be happier with my decision.

Why was the Social Change in Central America program so interesting?

Being able to live and learn in multiple countries is what appealed to me about this program. What also made this program so interesting was the amount of homestays we were able to have, I felt that with this I was able to immerse myself in the culture as much as any US citizen could.

What is the best part of the program?

I absolutely loved my one-on-one Spanish course in Spanish. It was a crash course to learning Spanish for me and was definitely something I needed. Pati was an amazing teacher and this class was a great start to my semester.

What would you have done differently?

I wish that I had been able to travel more independently; the schedule throughout the semester is pretty tight.

How has the return affected you?

The return has been more difficult for me than I had anticipated, but it has opened my eyes to the world around me and encouraged me to make a change in myself and work to fight oppression in Minneapolis.

Reflections on Learning in Nueva Esperanza, El Salvador

This post is from Augsburg student Leah McDougall, who traveled to El Salvador with CGEE as part of an Augsburg College class.  

I have dreamed about traveling to Central America since I was in high school. Finally, I was given an opportunity to explore, first hand, the culture of that part of the world. El Salvador was an experience of a lifetime where I was able to become more awake and witness a different type of beauty in the world.

There are many factors that made this trip very memorable, well-rounded, and life changing. The leaders of the trip planned it so we would get a large perspective of the country.  We spent time in three different cities: San Salvador, Suchitoto, and Nueva Esperanza, and were able to see life in El Salvador from many different perspectives.  We met with local historians, attended a local mass, toured church and plaza where Archbishop Oscar Romero preached and was killed, checked out the local markets, toured museums with loads of information about the Civil War, met war and massacre survivors, spent time with Sister Peggy at the Art Center for Peace, talked with the two main political parties, visited with the US Embassy, and spent a night on the beach. Throughout all the travel within the small country, I felt pain, anger. and sadness because of the terrible war they had been through and the amount of people in severe poverty today. But I also felt a sense of hope and beauty that is hard to explain. The people we encountered were very hopeful about the future and not bitter about the past. Religion was a large impact in their life and it showed thro ugh their actions and conversations. They relied on each other’s company and companionship to get through the pain of the war, the struggles of daily life and the hardship of life.

My favorite part of the trip was the time in Nueva Esperanza. It is a small agricultural community that functions like a cooperative. In the 1980s, they were forced out of their homeland and moved to San Salvador because of the dangers of the Civil War. Later, they were sent to a refugee camp in Nicaragua where they remained until the early 1990s. I was exposed to the power of a community in three ways.  First, the majority of this community chose to stay together throughout the war and move back to their homeland together.  Second, the sense of responsibility they had for each other was prominent. They all looked after each other financially, emotionally, and physically. They made it clear through their words and actions that they would never let anyone in their community go hungry or struggle alone. Lastly, the simple lifestyle overall was something very different yet comforting to me.They worked hard and made a lot of time to be in the company of others and be present in each other’s lives. This is something I don’t always experience in my day to day life.

Leah McDougall and her CGEE group worked together with local youth the repaint this mural in Nueva Esperanza, El Salvador
Leah McDougall and her CGEE group worked together with local youth the repaint this mural in Nueva Esperanza, El Salvador

Finding the Light after War

By Maly Thao

Maly received the Mary Witt Scholarship to help support her short-term travel to El Salvador in January 2015. The below is excerpted from a a reflective paper she wrote about the seminar. 

As I sit here reflecting back upon my study abroad short term winter break journey in El Salvador, I keep going back to the time the group departed to Copapayo Viejo and was taken across the lake into the forest where we got a chance to listen to two testimony from the massacre survivors: Rogelio Miranda and Mercedes Menjivar. Both of these stories made a huge impact on me that I felt like I was there with them the whole time on their tragic journey. Most especially, Rogelio’s story because he went through and seen so much at such a young age. This man is so strong. If I were to imagine myself in his shoe, I would not know how to continue on living life being a massacre survivor.

I felt many emotions going through me as I was standing and listening to Rogelio and Mercedes. It was long listening to their heartbreaking stories in the heat and my legs started hurting but, I could not give up letting myself sit down. The reason why I choose to stay standing was because I wanted to feel what Rogelio and Mercedes was feeling as they stood and shared their story. Also, I thought about the long hours of walking the soldiers made all the survivors at the time traveled and some may have walk barefooted. My mind and emotions was all over the place.

Again, Rogelio’s story hit me the most. He watched his sister, aunt, and many loved ones from behind a line they were all standing in get shot at the age of nine years old. He was a smart boy who dodged death; his life flashed right in front of his eyes so many times and yet, he managed to survive. With this, he stated that he knew somehow God was protecting him every step of the way. I do believe in this too and that there is a place and a time for everything.

Listening to Rogelio’s story, I was drifting in and out of my mind. The experience that they went through, I can also relate it on to a personal level because my parents, great grandparents, and cousins went through a similar experience: their journey from the war that is known as the Secret War or Silent War. I know a little about my parents’ journey because they would talk about it when I was younger growing up. It was always tied into some kind of lecturing about how they struggled migrating to the United States of America and was not able to get all the opportunities here and we (their children) should go in all our ways to obtain the most of it for them. I knew my role as a Hmong American daughter and know well what my parents wants for us but, was rebellious because I have some things against my culture and still do. I struggle daily to see why the gender role is what it is today in my culture and is something hard to explain, but I realized that I never took my culture and its history in that serious. It was always like you don’t want to believe the horrible things a human being can do to another human being. I came to realizing that one’s culture is important because somehow, in some way, you will always come back to your own roots.

Again and again, the experience in El Salvador left me with a huge impact that I am processing all my thoughts down. After listening to both the stories, the group did a prayer together around a tree, and ended with giving each other hugs. We then got back onto the boat and I turned to glance one last time to the place we were at, and saw the sun shining onto the tree we prayed around on. At that very moment, it hit me that there in the deepest darkness tragedy one goes through, they can find the light (happiness) again. I am thankful for this powerful short moment of my life that impacted me in so many ways unimaginable.