Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU to consider adding Cuba to list of study abroad locations

Northwestern students interested in going abroad to Cuba soon may have the chance to study on the historically off-limits island.

A faculty member from the Spanish and Portuguese department will travel to Havana, Cuba, this spring to evaluate whether to add the country to NU’s list of available study abroad locales, said Bill Anthony, director of the Study Abroad Program.

If the faculty member’s trip is successful, students could begin applying to Cuba as early as next Fall Quarter, as long as the Study Abroad Office gives formal approval to the site.

Prof. Christopher Herbert, chairman of the Spanish and Portuguese department, said he thinks students would jump at the opportunity.

“It is certainly a study abroad experience unlike any other,” Herbert said. “We assume that there will be some intense interest among students.”

NU isn’t the only university discussing Cuba, a Caribbean island 90 miles south of Florida, as a study abroad option for students. According to the Institute of International Education’s 2002 report, Cuba hosted 905 U.S. students during the 2000-01 academic year, a 64 percent increase from the previous year.

Travel to Cuba has been strictly regulated since the 1960s, when tensions boiled over between the U.S. government and the communist regime of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. But NU already possesses a required license from the U.S. government allowing the university to send students to Cuba.

NU currently offers study abroad programs in two communist nations: China and Vietnam. If approved, Cuba also would become the fourth Central American or Caribbean nation open to NU students, joining Mexico, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

NU students already can study abroad in Cuba through unaffiliated programs, but financial aid cannot be applied, Anthony said.

“Currently we have no affiliated program, but I think it’s a great place to go at a fascinating transition point,” said Anthony, who compared the experience to being in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Medill junior Josh Miller spent Fall Quarter at the University of Havana through an unaffiliated program.

“I wanted to go to a place that had a different political view,” Miller said. “I learned a lot about the other side of U.S. foreign relations to all of Latin America.”

Miller called his time in Cuba the best experience of his life. He was impressed by the hospitality of the Cubans he met, he said.

“They are very open to foreigners coming in,” Miller said. “(They are) very accepting. They will invite you into their homes.”

Security was not a concern for Miller, who said he felt safer in Cuba than he does in the United States.

But Weinberg sophomore Jackie Azpeitia, a member of Alianza, is more cautious.

“I worry about the safety of students going there, but I think a lot of students would jump at the chance,” Azpeitia said.

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NU to consider adding Cuba to list of study abroad locations