Social Justice in Central America with CGE Past Review

By (Sociology., Berea College) - abroad from 08/20/2012 to 12/08/2012 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about the history of the countries I visited, liberation theology, local cultures, social participation, opportunities for social justice actions, and improved in Spanish speaking skills too.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Program facilitators and staff were always available.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Home stays were wonderful in both Guatemala and Nicaragua. I had my own bedroom in each. The families I stayed with were wonderful. In El Salvador, due to safety reasons, all students participating in the program stayed in a large and accommodating home, with 2 or more per bedroom/bathroom. This was my least favorite as interaction with El Salvadoran people was limited to the staff and interviews we were taken on. It was a very enclosed bubble in El Salv. In all three countries primary residence was in large cities, but we also participated in rural stays for a few days at a time. The rural stays were one of my favorite parts of the program. While accommodations were more rudimentary (outhouses, sometimes no showers or running water), they were still comfortable and enriching experiences.

* Food:

Food was pretty good, for the most part, but I think I need a month break rice, beans, and plantains for a month. :)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt pretty well integrated in Guatemala and Nicaragua, but because safety was a concern in El Salvador, I felt like I didn't have a chance to participate as much in the local culture as we were very much in a protective bubble. Not being in a homestay reduced my feeling of integration in El Salvador.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no major health issues during the program, and thus cannot adequately comment or rate. (Although this review requires me to grant a number of stars)

* Safety:

I felt safe.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent any where from 0 to 20 USD per week.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

In Guatemala, the semester started with a Spanish program that was very intense. It was 4 or 5 weeks (I can't remember!) and was 5 hours per day, Monday through Friday, one-on-one with a language teacher. My teacher was great. A large portion of this particular course involved conversation which greatly helped me to get comfortable to using the language. Homestays in Guatemala and Nicaragua really require language usage. This was good for me because I started out speaking little to no Spanish and by the time I left was very comfortable conversing. My Spanish is still very limited and rudimentary, but greatly improved, especially conversationally.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I don't recall
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • homestays
  • interaction with locals
* What could be improved?
  • time usuage in Nicaragua, specifically time unnecessarily spent at the center
  • open up more interactive experiences in El Salvador (some how)
  • The program was very liberal and biased in its teaching. While I agreed with the program's stance, it would've been beneficial to hear an accurate representation of opposing views.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew where my head was and is.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.