The American University in Cairo and the College of Charleston have recently partnered on a new academic cooperation and student exchange program for both undergraduate and graduate students for a period of five years.
Students from AUC and CofC will receive a scholarship to spend a semester or year abroad at the other institution, providing students with a unique international experience and strengthening East-West cultural ties.
AUC Trustee Jonathan Wolf (YAB ’75), founder and president of Wendover Housing Partners, LLC who was a study-abroad student at AUC, and his wife Nancy were instrumental in making this program a reality. They will provide funds for AUC students to spend a semester or year abroad at CofC, while Hilton and Catherine Smith, who serve on the College of Charleston’s School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs advisory board, will fund CofC students to study at AUC.
Check out this exciting article about the Friedgen Family Italian Study Abroad Endowed Scholarship in The College TODAY!
As we start to hear about the Fulbright recipients LCWA would like to congratulate the following students!
Haley Moore, graduating this year with a major in Psychology and Spanish and a minor in Linguistics. Received the Fulbright to go to Colombia.
Jolie Hiers, graduated last year with degree in Foreign Language Education in Spanish. Received the Fulbright to go to Colombia.
Sophie Kreutz, graduating this year with a major in Marine Biology, a minor in Spanish, Chemistry, and Studio Art. Received the Fulbright to go to Mexico.
Alexandra Helfgott, graduating this year with double major in Spanish and Poli Sci. Received the Fulbright to go to Mexico.
Hillary McLaurin, graduating this year with a double major in German and Computer Information Systems. Received the Fulbright to go to Germany.
The African American Studies Study Abroad Program began in 2012 with Roneka Matheny. During the Maymester, she took a group of students to the island of Barbados. The following academic year, I was asked to continue the program. Instead of organizing a subsequent trip in the summer of 2013, with the assistance of Mary Battle, I had the pleasure of taking a planning trip to Barbados. Prior to my travels, Mary Battle connected me with Rhoda Green, the Honorary Barbados Consul to South Carolina who resides in Charleston, SC. She provided me with significant information on the history of the connectedness between Charleston and Barbados, along with providing me the names of several individuals to contact and plan to meet while in Barbados. As I embarked to Barbados, I had the privilege of meeting with several stakeholders who were vested in seeing the program continue as it did in 2012. I met with Janet Caroo, Marketing Officer and Regional Student Development at UWI-Cavehill, and Kevin Farmer, Deputy Director of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society. This planning session provided us the opportunity to work out details for the study abroad trip (e.g., costs; classroom space; dorm space; tours, etc.). Upon my return to Charleston, Dr. Conseula Francis and I created a planning committee that included the relaunching of the trip for the summer of 2014. During the 2013-2014 academic year, we actively promoted the trip through the Center for International Education, along with emails to the African American Studies minors as well as other students enrolled in our classes.
We billed the program as a bridge to Rhoda Green’s Carolina-Barbados Foundation, by highlighting the social, economic, political, and cultural link between Charleston and Barbados. Barbados has a unique cultural history with the low country. From the plantation life to architecture, there are relics of historic Charleston that owes its existence to Barbados.
Our recruitment efforts resulted in securing ten CofC students for the three-week study abroad trip. The program was organized into two sections. The first week students remained in Charleston, SC exploring the local history of Charleston, and its link to Barbados, by visiting Charlestowne Landing and Magnolia Plantation. Students also had an opportunity to meet with Mrs. Rhoda Green, who provided an in-depth history of the Carolinas-Barbados connection. The remaining two weeks were spent in Barbados where students took 6-credit hours (Comparative Black Identity; Blackface in the Global Imaginary); participated in several island tours exploring the local history (e.g., Barbados Museum of History; Mount Gay Rum Tours; St. Nicholas Abbey; Speighstown; walking tour of historic Bridgetown). Additionally, students were also able to explore the island as a group, void of professor oversight. During this time, students were able to shop, meet and interact with the locals, and connect classroom course information with the physical, tangible world of Barbados.
As an assignment, students were required to make daily posts on a created blog to chronicle their group outings and adventures. The videos below are examples of our experiences on the beautiful island of Barbados.
In the upcoming academic year, Roneka Matheny plans to relaunch the AAST Study Abroad program. She plans to create a broader, more comprehensive program where students would spend two weeks in Charleston, again exploring the cultural and historical links to the Caribbean; two weeks in Barbados; and two weeks in Jamaica. Although course proposals are in the preliminary stages, the two purported courses would focus on the use of music as a form of social protest (e.g., Bob Marley) and on the shared Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade History.
Dr. Anthony D. Greene
On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, the College of Charleston and the Xavier de Salas Foundation commemorated 20 years of collaboration with CofC’s study abroad program in Trujillo, Spain. Participating in this memorable event was a five-member, College of Charleston delegation that included Dr. Michael Auerbach, Dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics; Dr. Jerry Hale, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Dr. Mark P. Del Mastro, Chair of the Department of Hispanic Studies; Dr. Andrew Sobiesuo, Associate Provost of International Education; and Dr. Antonio Tillis, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Representing Trujillo were Mr. Alberto Casero, Mayor of the city; Dr. Jaime de Salas, Director of the Xavier de Salas Foundation, and Dr. Segundo Píriz, President of the University of Extremadura. Also participating in the ceremony were Jessica Barras, a graduate of the College of Charleston who studied in Trujillo in 2014, and currently resides in the same city. Following remarks by numerous dignitaries, Dr. Del Mastro, who is also Executive Director of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, inducted Drs. Jaime de Salas and Segundo Píriz into the Order of the Discoverers, one of Sigma Delta Pi’s most prestigious international recognitions.
From left to right: Drs. Del Mastro, Hale, Auerbach, de Salas, Píriz, Sobiesuo and Tillis, following the induction of de Salas and Píriz into Sigma Delta Pi’s Order of the Discoverers.
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.”
College of Charleston sophomore Sarah Legendre is participating in a Fulbright Summer Institute, one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs operating worldwide. Legendre, an Honors College student and double major in geology and archaeology, will spend four weeks at Durham University in the UK. (read more)