From Harford Community College:
Dr. Stephanie Hallock, Harford Community College Professor of Political Science, and Anne Shugars, Assistant Professor of Economics, travelled with Paritha Vithlani, Assistant Professor of Psychology to Havana, Cuba this spring. Dr. Hallock and Ms. Shugars presented at the Maryland Community College International Education Consortium’s (MCCIEC) 2016 Forum “Effective On-Site Teaching for Global Awareness.” There were 23 representatives from eight Maryland community colleges in attendance.
Dr. Hallock, who serves as Coordinator for Global Education and Engagement at HCC and represents the College on the MCCIEC Board, was also the keynote speaker at the conference. Her keynote address focused on best practices in developing and delivering study abroad experiences for MD community college students.
Ms. Shugars presented on the changing role of Cuba in the global economy. Her presentation coordinated with another faculty presentation on tourism dollars in the Cuban economy, as well as a lecture on Cuba’s tourism strategies that was given by a University of Havana professor/Ministry of Tourism consultant.
“This experience was an amazing opportunity to work and learn collaboratively with colleagues from other Maryland community colleges. We developed strong ties within and across academic disciplines that we will most certainly build from moving forward through the MCCIEC,” stated Dr. Hallock.
Given the nature of travelling in Cuba at this time, HCC faculty had to be very flexible regarding their schedule. Their tour guide, who worked for the government (as all must), gave very specific instructions on where they could go and what they could do. They visited Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve approximately an hour outside of Havana. “It is a gorgeous part of the interior of the island that is meticulously preserved and cared for,” said Dr. Hallock. They also travelled to Cojimar, a fishing town on the coast near Hemingway’s farm “Finca La Vigia,” which was the inspiration for his novel The Old Man and the Sea. Dr. Hallock said, “Unfortunately, we were prevented from really ‘going native’ either in Havana or outside of it due to time and transportation restrictions.”
The Consortium is attempting to open up opportunities for educational travel by faculty and students. After visiting the country, the faculty feels that the infrastructure in Cuba is probably not yet conducive to the kind of travel study experiences HCC generally offers its students. But they feel that will change quickly as more financial investments are made in the country.
Dr. Hallock said she plans to return to Cuba in the future. She and other conference attendees made a lot of connections and learned what they will and will not do again.
The MCCIEC is pursuing a grant through the U.S. Embassy in Havana for an in-country project that will include faculty from various Maryland community colleges. Dr. Hallock said, “I am excited to pursue the partnership between MCCIEC and the U.S. Embassy in Cuba!”
According to www.mcciec.org, The Maryland Community College International Education Consortium (MCCIEC) has two basic purposes for Maryland community college students, faculty, and staff: To improve the accessibility, quality, and diversity of study abroad and other educational travel opportunities for Maryland community college students; and to create and share resources and to facilitate collaboration among MCCIEC member institutions.