Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cuba study abroad canceled

Cuba study abroad canceled
By VICTORIA COOK | The Daily Tar Heel
Updated: September 17, 2010, 1:28 AM

Havana nights will no longer be possible for UNC students.

At least not this year.

The University of Havana in Cuba canceled its program that allows UNC
students to study abroad there after two professors who taught the
English portion of the program retired, said Bob Miles, associate dean
for study abroad and international exchanges.

The school in Havana decided it would be too difficult to find
English-speaking professors to fill the spots, Miles said.

"What we have to do in this situation is create a new program," Miles
said. "The original program we designed to be taught in English in order
to maximize the opportunities for UNC students to be able to participate
in study abroad in Cuba."

While many students and faculty members said they are disappointed by
the program's cancellation, some students feel that it might have been
for the best.

"Honestly, I felt like if the program was going to be like it was last
spring, then it was probably better for everyone that it was canceled,"
said senior Anasa Hicks, who studied there last spring. "I felt like
there wasn't a plan to the maximum benefit of us as students."

The original program was designed for students to take five classes,
three of which were taught in English. One course was a Spanish-language
course based on a placement test, and the other was an introduction to
Cuba class that was taught in Spanish. None of the courses were taken
with Cuban students, said Hicks and senior Gina Bruno, who also studied
in Cuba.

Hicks said she wished that the classes had been taught in Spanish,
instead of both English and Spanish.

"You learn a lot more when you're forced to," she said. "If it was
essential that we knew Spanish we would've tried harder and gotten more
out of it."

In the spring of 2010, 14 students participated in the study abroad
program in Cuba, out of the 14 or 15 that applied, said Miles.

Miles added that he is now concerned that if a new program is designed,
the only option will be to have a direct enrollment program, therefore
decreasing the number of eligible students.

A direct enrollment program would mean that UNC students would enroll in
the University of Havana and take classes as the Cuban students do. UNC
students would be fully immersed in the language of the country and
would have the opportunity to engage with Cuban students.

Miles said direct enrollment would require a higher level of proficiency
in Spanish, though students who completed the program in the spring,
like Hicks, said this scenario would be preferable.

Bruno said that a huge restructuring of the program is needed, adding
that a higher language requirement would be advisable.

"I think that sometimes study abroad programs try to make students feel
comfortable," she said. "A huge part of studying abroad is feeling

Miles said that he plans to work with the University of Havana to design
a new program.

UNC's program was rare, and impossible in states like Florida, where a
federal appeals court reinstated last month a ban on state university
funding for travel to "terrorist" countries, including Cuba.

Louis Perez, a history professor who teaches a class on Cuba, said that
maintaining a program in Cuba will be very difficult because of the
political tensions between the United States and Cuba.

"Because it's unlike any other program, it can't be treated like any
other program," he said.

"I think it's going to be difficult to bring it back."

Contact the University Desk at udesk@unc.edu."


No comments:

Post a Comment