Social Change in Central America: Challenging self, confronting world views, and making connections. Past Review

By (Peace And Justice Studies, Wellesley College) for

CGEE: Social Change in Central America: Exploring Peace, Justice, and Community Engagement

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Although aware of the poverty rates in the world, it was another thing to be continually be confronted by inequity through our conversations, academics, and daily interactions. The program has made me much more interested in political economy... well, now I can articulate the field of political economy as encompassing my interests. The program reinforced any of my views on inequality, social justice and gave me a broader perspective.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was extremely manageable so students were able to have a holistic education-- spending time with host families and some time for travel. The grading system was fairly lenient. Classes were very participatory, but our education was much more experiential as we visited organizations, individuals, and communities.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We always had staff available who were aware of various resources, activities, culture, language, etc. We always had local staff as well. The program was a perfect size permitting a large degree of intimacy-- only 13 students!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We also stayed in a guest house for a month-- our students and the live in staff.

* Food:

The food quality ranged depending on our setting. Dietary restrictions were easily accommodated.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The trips to rural communities were always the most helpful for balance and a different perspective. The arrangements were sparse, but that was to be expected and was insignificant in the scheme of things.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

We were in dangerous countries and cities, but our program ensured utmost safety so we never felt in danger. IN addition the program was quick to respond to any health concerns. I spent a night in the hospital, but my care and comfortability in the setting exceeded any experience I have had in a hospital in the United States. Good medical care should not be a concern. At one point or another students will experience gastrointestinal problems, but it is almost avoidable. Yet, the duration and treatment is not too long.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Have money in the bank for medical costs.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
Language acquisition improvement?

We had to use (or listen to) Spanish to some extent everyday. Many individuals did not speak English.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
  • Other

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • academics
  • rural stays
* What could be improved?
  • host families in guatemala
  • Provide a white privilege discussion at the beginning of the program
  • Add a trip to the Autonomous Region of Nicaragua
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Although you may be (and should be) uncomfortable and emotionally/physically/morally/intellectually challenged during the trip you should embrace it as a key component of the program and growing as a person in an increasingly inequitable world. I recommend the program to anyone interested in social justice, economy, public health, law, or simply a person that needs their horizons broadened.