Contributed by Jeanette Mattsson | [url=http://www.redandblack.com]http://www.redandblack.com[/url]
Despite having to recently relinquish a portion of its funds to the University administration, a new study abroad program is set to debut this summer in Cuba.
The Cuban Culture Uncovered study abroad program will send its first students to Cuba May 14, giving participants a first-hand perspective on the country’s history, culture, music and religion.
Jose B. Alvarez, director of the program, said he is excited at the prospect of sending students to the island nation.
“I think it’s very important to see and realize a true Cuba,” he said. “There is so much more beyond Fidel Castro and communism.”
But a recent announcement that 10 percent of tuition dollars paid to study abroad programs will be re-allocated by University administration could negatively impact the Cuban Culture Uncovered program.
“This will kill any program,” Alvarez said. “Ten percent is a big cut for us. The University benefits from this because students are still paying tuition, but they’re not physically at the University to benefit from what they pay for.”
So far, close to 20 students have applied to study in Cuba, Alvarez said. Today is the final day students can turn in applications.
The program, which offers four classes, does not require fluency in Spanish.
Although native speakers will serve as instructors, two classes will be taught in English.
“It’s good to have some Spanish skills before you go,” Alvarez said.
One applicant, Lilly Hurt, a senior from Tallahassee, Fla., said curiosity inspired her to sign up for the trip.
“I’ve heard so much about Cuba, but I’ve never seen it,” she said. “You can never really know what it’s like until you’re there and you experience it.”
Cuban Culture Uncovered will visit five cities, starting with Havana, before the trip ends June 14.
Leslie Wolcott, another applicant and a junior from Decatur, is excited about her involvement with the program.
“I want to see as much of the country as possible while I’m there,” she said. “I’ve never been there before. It’s almost impossible to go there if you don’t have an educational purpose, and I want to get as much as possible out of the trip.”
Cuban Culture Uncovered developed from another study abroad program, UGA en Espana, which has been offered to students for four years.
“When we started up the UGA en Espana program, we only had about 20 students going, but the program has grown and today there are about 150 students involved,” Alvarez said.