Dr. Avendaño, Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, interviews CofC alumna (2005) Arden Sherman to discuss her undergraduate experience at the College of Charleston as a double major in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Studio Art, her time studying abroad in Brazil and Cuba, and her professional activities following graduation. At the time of the podcast, Arden is the Director and Curator of Hunter East Harlem Gallery at Hunter College in New York City.
A faculty member in the Department of Hispanic Studies since 2003, and a full professor in the department since 2016, Dr. Colomina earned her B.A. in English from Spain’s University of Alicante, and both her M.A. and Ph.D. at Michigan State University. Since 2015 she serves as the Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS), a program that has enjoyed a resurgence under her tireless and creative leadership with the revision of the LACS curriculum, the overhaul of the study abroad program in Cuba, the addition of a post-doc faculty position, and extra-curricular event planning, among many other activities.
In addition to her impressive academic leadership, Dr. Colomina is an accomplished scholar whose research focuses on discourse, power, globalization and cultural mediatization in contemporary Spanish American narrative. The results of her work appear in several internationally-esteemed, peer-reviewed journals in her field to include Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, and Hispanófila, among others. She has also presented her research in numerous scholarly venues across the globe to include Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain.
Despite her impressive accomplishments with academic leadership and research, one of her primary loves is the classroom and her students. In addition to directing student study-abroad programs in Chile and Spain, she has taught a countless variety of courses at all levels–both undergraduate and graduate–to include basic Spanish language and Spanish American literature, culture, history and film, and she has directed multiple student internships. In her own words:
Whether in the classroom, by watching students lead intellectually stimulating discussions, or outside of it, when I hear my Hispanic Studies and Latin American & Caribbean Studies mentees speak about how a specific study abroad or an internship experience helped them shape their professional and personal focus in a positive way, being part of the students’ intellectual as well as their more personal journey continues to be the most fulfilling part of my profession.
The Department of Hispanic Studies congratulates Dr. Lola Colomina for her broad work on so many levels for the benefit of her students, her academic unit, and the College of Charleston, and for being selected for our March 2018 “Hispanic Studies Faculty Focus.”
Stay tuned for April 2018’s feature…
As one of the only institutions in the country with an annual study abroad program to Cuba, we are proud to offer a week of events to commemorate the 15th anniversary of this unique opportunity. For information on studying abroad in Cuba, click here. Here is a list of events to take place this week in honor of the program… Check them out!
All Events Begin at 5:30pm
Monday, November 17
Addlestone Library, Room 227
Film Screening of “A Summer in Cuba: College of Charleston, University of the World” (an original film)
Followed by a faculty & student panel discussion
Tuesday, November 18
Tate Center, Room 207 & Tate Center Lounge
Film Screening of “Bridge in the Mirror” a film by Humberto Miranda, in-country Director of the Cuba program
Reception to follow with live music by Justin Osborne
Wednesday, November 19
Addlestone Library, Room 227
Film Screening of “Fresa y Chocolate” (Strawberries & Chocolate)
Thursday, November 20
Addlestone Library, Room 227
Film Screening of “Viva Cuba” (Cuba Lives!)
When the College of Charleston launched its study abroad program in Havana, Cuba in summer 2000, travel and relations between the U.S. and Cuba were already difficult. Maintaining the program, which sends about 12 students to Havana each spring, has been challenging and often unpredictable, but it has always been rewarding.
Students studying abroad in Havana. Photo by Britton Holmes.
“My time in Cuba impacted me in more ways than I can count,” said Britton Holmes, a junior international studies and political science double major who studied abroad in Havana during the spring 2014 semester. “The culture is so rich, whether it’s the music, the art, the dance, etc. The people love being Cuban. They’re proud of their culture and they want to share it with everyone.”
The program that Holmes speaks of, though, is vastly different than the program the first 100 students to study in Havana experienced. In 2000, when International Studies Department Chair Douglas Friedman and Professor Emeritus of Hispanic Studies Jose Escobar launched the program with 20 students, participants spent four weeks and lived in what was essentially a hotel. When the embargo in Cuba was tightened in 2004, it required that those visiting with an education license must spend a minimum of 10 weeks. That was when the program went from a summer study-abroad experience to a full semester.
Photo taken in Cuba by Douglas Friedman
These restrictions caused many universities to end their own programs in Cuba, but the College’s commitment to sharing the educational and cultural opportunities in Cuba kept the program alive. “In 2004 there were more than 100 universities with programs in Cuba,” Friedman said. “In 2005 there were three.”
2007 marked the first spring semester in Havana – after attempting a hurricane-filled fall semester in 2005 – and the program has remained in the spring since. Students now live in apartments on the outskirts of Havana, allowing them easy access to the city without the round-the-clock distractions of Havana in such close proximity. It also makes students clean up and cook for themselves, providing them a more immersive experience.
“We’ve progressively tried to make the experience more genuine,” Friedman said. “Now we’re able to rent apartments for short-term use, and students have full kitchens – they’re actually living there. They have to deal with the same food shortages that Cubans deal with, they have to learn the different currencies, and they have to learn to navigate Havana. It’s a much more immersive experience.”
Holmes, who lived in the apartments, is a testament to this. “There is not a better place I could think of to get a full experience of pure Latin American culture,” she said. “I feel like a gained a Cuban family as well as a College of Charleston family.”
Holmes’ account of her time in Havana reflects the many unique opportunities provided through the program – not only is the Cuba program very small, allowing for students to form a tight-knit community, but also living in an embargoed country for 11 weeks is something that few Americans can experience.
Photo taken in Cuba by Britton Holmes
This is unlike any of the other programs we have,” Associate Provost for International Education Andrew Sobiesuo said. “In terms of the experience, the facilities and the adjustment that students have to make. They really learn to appreciate the advantages they have as Americans when they see what Cubans go through on a daily basis. It makes their experience much richer.”
Becoming immersed in the Cuban lifestyle can be jarring for some students. Holmes described ideal participants as “adventurous people who like to experience new cultures.” She went on to say that people interested in political science and/or Latin American history, culture and society as well as those interested in vintage cars, architecture, dancing and nightlife would also enjoy the program.
The next round of students considering studying abroad in Havana have a few months to apply – the deadline is December 1, 2014 – and in the meantime Friedman and Sobiesuo are working to get the program director in Cuba, Humberto Miranda, to Charleston in November for a 15th anniversary celebration and to teach his usual express II courses, Social Movements in Comparative Perspective and Cuban Politics and Society.
During his annual visits to Charleston, Miranda helps recruit students for the program both by providing information on the fascinating classes taught by his fellow University of Havana and Instituto de Filosofia faculty members and telling students about the unique and storied culture that awaits them in Cuba.
For Holmes, the description of daily life and friendly locals in Cuba was the selling point. “Their culture is super inclusive… I feel really lucky to have been able to experience it.”
April 3, Thursday, 5:30p.m.
TODAY, April 3rd, Juliana Passos, Brazilian Fulbright grantee working at the Department of Hispanic Studies will be sharing her experience in the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, as well as presenting the basic steps to those interested in getting a Fulbright TA Scholarship in Brazil and other countries. Please invite your students.
The following 2014 summer study abroad programs can still accommodate a few students. March 15, 2014 is the final deadline to apply.
Summer 2014 CofC Programs
|Barbados||AAST 300; AAST 300||June||March 15th|
|Brazil||LTPO 250/LTPO 150 & LACS 105||May 14-31||March 15th|
|China||INTB 360, MKTG 360||June 1-20||March 15th|
|Costa Rica||INTB 390, TRAN 360||July||March 15th|
|England/France||ARTH 340; ARTH 340||June 15-July 2||March 15th|
|Paris, France||ENGL 364||May 24-31||March 15th|
|Paris, France||FREN 390, FREN 361||May 11-June2||March 15th|
|Greece||GEOL 240||June-July||March 15th|
|Rome, Italy||CLAS 203 & ARTH 290||June 2-24||March 15th|
|Sorrento, Italy||LTIT 270 & LTIT 370||June14-July12||March 15th|
|Spoleto, Italy||ENGL 339 & ENGL 350||May 14-June11||March 15th|
|Kenya & Tanzania||EDFS 560 & INTB 390||May-June||March 15th|
|Morocco||LTAR 250, LTFR 250, POLI 359, FREN 361, FREN 490||May14-June6||March 15th|
|Panama||TRAN 360, MKTG 360, REAL 360||Summer 2||March 15th|
|Trujillo, Spain||SPAN 275; SPAN 328; SPAN 333; SPAN 390||May 14-June 19||March 15th|