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Why study in Mexico? Ask Antonio

ortegaWho wouldn’t want to spend a semester in the “city of eternal spring”? Ask Antonio Ortega, a staff member at the Center for Global Education’s study site in Cuernavaca, Mexico. “I think students have been to Cancun or Acapulco and think ‘I’ve been there, done that.’ They think Mexico, as a place to study, is not as interesting as Europe or South Africa,” he said.

However, in addition to offering beautiful weather and mosquito-free nights, Antonio says Cuernavaca is an excellent location for students to learn about LGBT rights, the feminist movement in Mexico, environmental issues, or business and trade. Cuernavaca is also noted for its innovative grassroots organizations, alternative approaches to health care and education, and for its role in the history of social struggle. “And we have really great food,” he added.

Antonio, who has been on the Mexico staff for five years, is in Minneapolis until December to recruit students for the Center’s semester programs in Mexico. He has been enjoying life as a temporary resident of the Seward neighborhood and traveling the Midwest participating in study abroad fairs.

At the Cuernavaca site, Antonio teaches Mexican and Mesoamerican history. He believes it is important for students to understand Latin American history so that they may be more culturally competent. “The Latino presence in the United States is huge now, and these students will have to deal with Latinos in their professional fields.”

He will also teach in the Center’s new business program, “International Business and Global Citizenship,” starting in the fall of 2009.

Antonio suggests that students study in Mexico because to obtain at least a basic grasp of the Spanish language and an introduction to Latin American culture in order to work with Latinos in the United States. The Center for Global Education partners with a well-known language school in Cuernavaca to provide more than 15 Spanish offerings, including speical classes for health care and for business. In addition, students may focus their semester program in one of several areas such as gender studies, women’s studies, business, environmental studies, or religion through an internship. Finally, Antonio says students should come to Cuernavaca to see the newly remodeled facilities and to escape the Midwestern winters.

As a gay activist in Mexico and in Morelos, the state in which Cuernavaca is located, Antonio says he is proud of Augsburg’s achievements in the area of gay activism and LGBT education. He will speak about the history of the LGBT movement in Mexico at the Nov. 4 Soup and Sexuality presentation. He has been involved for several years with Grupo CD4, a sexual education and AIDS prevention organization in Curenavaca. Many students who come to Cuernavaca, both for semester and short-term programs, learn about Grupo CD4 and other Mexican social justice movements.

Students interested in a semester study abroad program for the 2009-2010 academic year must apply by November 1. For more information, go to or stop into the Center for Global Education offices in Murphy Place.

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