New diplomatic relations with Cuba are going to mean more than fancy cigars and chocolates for United States citizens.
Relations with Cuba are going to be more open in terms of travel, according to recent statements by the Obama administration. The administration seeks to enhance what White House press releases are calling an “outdated approach” and “promote more effective change in Cuba that is consistent with U.S. support for the Cuban people and in line with U.S. national security interests.” One element of the approach that will be expanded is travel.
For university students, this could mean more opportunities to study abroad in Cuba.
Currently, Stony Brook University does not have a study abroad program in Cuba. But SUNY Oswego does, according to the Oswego study abroad website.
The way the SUNY study abroad system works is that any SUNY student can directly apply to any SUNY study abroad program. Therefore, Stony Brook students could venture to Cuba for study abroad through Oswego even though Stony Brook does not currently offer a Cuba study abroad program.
There are 12 categories of traveling to Cuba authorized by U.S. law. To travel there directly from the United States requires an individual to fall within one of 12 specific categories, one of which is educational travel. General tourist travel to Cuba is still not permitted.
Before the new foreign policy initiatives, people would have to make arrangements through the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to get general licenses to travel to Cuba. This will still be in effect with the updated policy but the licenses will be easier to maintain. This change comes after 18 months of secret exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, according to a report written in the New York Times.
The Oswego program offers a semester abroad at the oldest university in Cuba, the Universidad de La Habana. Students are required to have an advanced or intermediate knowledge of Spanish because it is a direct-enrollment program.
This means that students admitted to the program will take classes alongside Cuban students.
The program was licensed in 2004 through the U.S. Department of Treasury. Students have the opportunity to take courses through the Faculty of Philosophy and History and take courses in sociology, anthropology, politics, history and philosophy.
SUNY students pay tuition to their home university and housing to the university in Cuba. So far this is the only SUNY program that operates in Cuba.
Representatives from the study abroad offices were not available for comment.