Tuesday, February 22, 2011

American University Program Moves Host Institution

AU’s study abroad program in Cuba changes locations

By Meagan Shamberger
Eagle Contributing Writer
February 21, 2011
AU will be changing universities for its Cuba-based study abroad program this fall after the University of Havana was unable to continue hosting AU’s program.
The new program will be based at Casa de las Américas in Havana.
When AU Abroad first created a study abroad program at the University of Havana in 2006, it was one of only four such programs, Doyle said.
This January, several U.S. regulations restricting travel to Cuba were eased, making it easier for American colleges to establish abroad programs there.
“The University of Havana was quite overwhelmed with many universities interested in programs there, and they no longer had the capacity to run the type of structured program we wanted,” Doyle said.
As a result, the new program has moved to Casa de las Américas, also known as “CASA,” in Havana.
“CASA is Cuba’s premier research institution related to Cuban and Caribbean studies and Cuban art and culture,” Doyle said. 
The institution will be responsible for the organization of the program. This includes hiring professors, providing student housing and leading excursions to potential locations such as Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba.
CASA also hosts a few other university programs from the United States, according to Doyle.
The students will participate in a five-course, structured program that includes three classes on Cuban culture and society, an intermediate Spanish course and a photojournalism class taught by AU Journalist in Residence Bill Gentile, according to Doyle.
“We’re very excited an AU professor will be going down with the students to teach on the program,” Doyle said.
Gentile said he has been traveling to and covering Cuba since 1981. Although he has never taught a full semester abroad, Gentile taught online classes from such foreign locales as Afghanistan and Mexico. He also traveled to the Galapagos Islands with a group of AU students.
Gentile said that it is time to take advantage of the loosened restrictions as an opportunity to create strong bonds between Cuba and AU.
“I think our students will be enlivened by engaging in a deeply compelling society, rich in culture and shared history,” Gentile said.
The deadline to apply for the program is March 15.

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