MTSU’S ‘PROJECT CUBA’ REVIVES STUDY-ABROAD EFFORT AFTER 6-YEAR HIATUS
‘No Excuse for Being Ignorant’ about Caribbean Neighbor, Professor Says
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 24, 2010
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Dr. Ric Morris, 615-898-2284, firstname.lastname@example.org
(MURFREESBORO)— After a six-year hiatus due to stringent U.S. government controls on travel to Cuba by American citizens, MTSU’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures has revived its successful Cuba study-abroad program for summer 2011.
The new program, called “Project Cuba,” has been retooled to fit new laws and is one of only a few such programs in existence nationwide.
“It’s a shame to wait out political changes that might never come,” said Dr. Ric Morris, professor of Spanish and linguistics at MTSU, who is serving as program director. “There has never been greater urgency for Americans to get behind the Iron Curtain and see for themselves what Cuba is all about.”
Because of the trade embargo, visiting Cuba without U.S. government permission can incur fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and up to 10 years in prison. As a result, very few Americans go there. The 2011 Cuba program is covered under an academic license, however, and is 100 percent legal for all qualifying participants.
The program will be open to three classifications of participants: undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty. All three groups will depart Nashville together on May 20, 2011, but will return at different times. Faculty and graduate students will stay two weeks and return on June 3. Undergraduates will stay 10 weeks and return on July 31.
“The undergraduate program is longer because U.S. law requires undergraduate study in Cuba to be at least 10 continuous weeks, no exceptions,” Morris explains. “Graduate study falls under the category of research and is not durationally restricted.”
While in Cuba, undergraduates will earn nine hours of Spanish credit taking language classes at the University of Havana. They also will take a custom-designed course, “Anthropological History of the Cuban People,” to be taught in English at the Montané Anthropological Museum in Havana. On return to MTSU, the course may be equated to three hours of credit either in ANTH 3710, Special Topics in Anthropology, or GS 3010, Global Studies: Study Abroad.
Graduate students and faculty will conduct independent-research projects. As much as possible, they will work in the field with research assistants, who will also help break down any cultural or language barriers encountered along the way.
For the duration of the visit, all three groups will reside in Havana in comfortable guest- house lodging. They will take meals together and enjoy cultural activities and excursions as a group.
“The only difference will be what each person does during working hours,” Morris says “Undergraduates will be taking classes, while the faculty and grad students are working on their research.”
All three prongs of the program are open to participants in any academic field and with any level of Spanish ability.
So why visit Cuba? Morris explains that much of what we hear about Cuba in the United States today is highly politicized, leading to grossly inaccurate perceptions of what Cuba is really like.
“We have no excuse for being ignorant about Cuba,” he says. “Cuba is closer to our borders than Chattanooga is to Murfreesboro, but what do we really know about Cuba besides the fact that it’s Marxist and exports cigars? How many Americans know, for example, that Cuba has virtually eradicated several lethal diseases that still kill thousands of Americans each year?”
Morris points out that past trip participants typically come away deeply challenged by the experience of being in Cuba even for just a few weeks.
“A lot of what you’ve believed about Cuba turns out to be correct, but even more turns out to be wrong,” he says.
“Cuba is the final frontier,” Morris adds. “After graduating college, most Americans will never have the opportunity to visit Cuba again legally. If Cuba intrigues you, there won’t be a better time to go than now.”
Morris has been to Cuba five times: four as an educational-program director and once on a humanitarian mission.
For more information about Project Cuba, interested students and faculty should contact Morris as soon as possible at 615-898-2284 or email@example.com.
Founded in 1911, Middle Tennessee State University is a Tennessee Board of Regents institution located in Murfreesboro and is the state’s largest public undergraduate institution. MTSU now boasts one of the nation’s first master’s degree programs in horse science, and the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C., acclaims MTSU’s Master of Science in Professional Science degree—the only one in Tennessee—as a model program. This fall, MTSU unveiled three new doctoral degrees in the sciences.
IN BRIEF: MTSU is reviving its successful study-abroad excursion to Cuba for summer 2011 after a six-year hiatus caused by government travel restrictions. Dr. Ric Morris, professor of Spanish and linguistics at MTSU and program director of the new “Project Cuba,” says students and faculty should sign up now and not “wait out political changes that might never come. There has never been greater urgency for Americans to get behind the Iron Curtain and see for themselves what Cuba is all about.” The trip is open to undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, and they’ll depart May 20, 2011 for stays ranging from two to 10 weeks. For more information about Project Cuba, interested students and faculty should contact Morris at 615-898-2284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For MTSU news and information, visit www.mtsunews.com.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: For a color JPEG of Dr. Morris or a PDF of the “Project Cuba” informational brochure, contact Gina E. Fann in the Office of News and Public Affairs via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 615-898-5385. Thanks!