Faculty-Led Cuba Study Abroad Program Planned for May 2017

Posted on 10/6/2016 4:39:05 PM

Statue of Jose Marti in a park  in CienfuegosIUP students now have the opportunity to participate in a faculty-led study abroad program to Cuba, a country that few Americans have been able to visit for the last half-century. A limited number of faculty may participate as well, only if they are traveling with at least one student in their field to support the students’ learning experience. The program is planned for May 13–25, 2017. The information and application are posted on IUP’s Education Abroad website

Information sessions for the Cuba program will be held on the following dates:  

  • Thursday, October 13, 6:00–7:00 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 117
  • Tuesday, October 18, 4:00–5:00 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 207

The Cuba program will also have a space at the Education Abroad Fair on Wednesday, October 19, noon to 3:00 in the HUB Atrium.

The study abroad program will include a 3-credit course titled “Cuba, Yesterday and Today” about the island’s history, culture, and society. Spanish skills are not required, as interpreters will be provided for classes and tours. Participants will have contact with Cubans in various contexts throughout the experience. The course can count toward graduation, as well as for a minor in Latin American Studies and/or in Pan-African Studies.

“Recent changes in U.S. laws have made it much easier for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba for academic and professional purposes and for people-to-people programs,” said the program’s faculty leader, Marveta Ryan-Sams. “American undergraduate students can now study in Cuba, which was not allowed when I was in college. I am excited to be able to introduce IUP students and professors to this fascinating society.”

Ryan-Sams is an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and the coordinator of the Pan-African Studies program. She has been teaching Spanish language and Latin American culture at IUP since 1999 and has led two study abroad programs to Mexico.

Ryan-Sams has visited Cuba four times between 1996 and 2016 for research and conferences. She spent the last spring break in Cuba, taking part in an educational tour about Afro-Cuban cultures and religions. The tour was co-hosted by Civitas Global Educational Services and the Universidad de Cienfuegos, an institution on Cuba’s southern coast. 

In October 2015, Civitas and UCf co-hosted a conference on international education, which was attended by Michele Petrucci, associate vice president for International Education and Global Engagement ( Office of International Education) and by Yaw Asamoah, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Since last fall, IUP has been working to establish an agreement with UCf and a relationship with Civitas.

In June 2016, IUP hosted representatives of UCf and Civitas. On a two-day visit, UCf president Juan Bautista Cogollos Martínez, UCf professor and staff member Dictinio Díaz González, and Civitas CEO Dairo Moreno met with IUP’s president, provost, and deans, as well as with several professors, Petrucci, and Jessica Mulvihill, the OIE’s assistant director for Education Abroad. They discussed opportunities for IUP students and faculty to have further contact and collaboration with Cuban counterparts.  

Car in front of house in Cuba