ABOVE PHOTO: Chevrolet cars are used as taxi on the street of Old Havana, Havana, Cuba. This is the most common transportation in the capital city. (Hang Dinh / Shutterstock.com)
As President Barack Obama continues to encourage independent engagement with a newly actualized Cuba, a group of faculty and administrators from Community College of Philadelphia recently embarked upon the Caribbean island to develop study abroad programs that will teach students what it means to be a global citizen.
Participants included Dr. Judy Gay, vice president for strategic initiatives and chief of staff; Dr. Ashley Brenner, study abroad coordinator and instructor of English; Christopher DiCapua, International Studies coordinator and associate professor of foreign languages; and Dr. Connie Watson, assistant professor of Psychology. They traveled throughout Havana and Trinidad, Cuba, on a week-long site visit. The goal is to foster opportunities for service-learning and research for students.
Until President Obama took the historic step in 2014 to normalize relations with the Caribbean’s largest nation, Cuba seemed light years away historically and politically, even though it is located only 90 miles from U.S. shores. A multi-ethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, Cuba is uniquely equipped to attract students interested in community development and social inclusion – issues that directly affect them.
In addition to traveling throughout Cuba’s capital city of Havana, some of the participants also explored the city of Trinidad, home to significant Afro-Cuban influence and history, informed by local sugar plantations and the slave trade.
Trinidad and Philadelphia share the distinction of being UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the visit represents an opportunity for participants to explore and compare the two cities’ cultures and histories.
Since 2000, various groups from Community College of Philadelphia’s Study Abroad program have visited a total of 13 countries, including Argentina, Cambodia, Greece, Israel and Turkey. Last month, a group of students and faculty traveled to Tanzania for 14 days to study sustainable development and East African culture.
Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter.com/CCP.edu. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccp.edu.