(Tahlequah, Okla.)--While taking part in Northeastern State University's International Faculty Development Fellowship Program, Dr. O. Susan Frusher, professor of education, visited Cuba from June 17-27.
Frusher, who also serves as program chair for NSU's graduate program in higher education leadership, visited Havana, Pinar del Rio and Matanzas to study Cuba's participation in globalization.
"My interest in the study topic was Cuba – everything – the culture, the people, past, present and future," Frusher said. "I teach a graduate cultural foundations class and have been interested in different cultures ever since I can remember. I presented at an international learning conference in Havana in 2004 and fell in love with the country. I knew I wanted to go back and learn more, so when I saw a seminar offered in Cuba I had to apply."
The visit was arranged by the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) in cooperation with NSU and offered a comprehensive study opportunity.
During her stay, Frusher heard from Universidad de La Habana faculty and speakers from Centro de Estudios Hemisféricos y sobre Estados Unidos.
"We attended lecturers by professors that we probably would not have been able to hear had we not been participants in the seminar," she said.
The topic of the faculty development seminar was "Cuba in a Changing Global Community." Lectures included "Education in Cuba," "Current Issues in Cuba's Economic Development" and "Religious Diversity in Cuba." The itinerary included a faculty guided walking tour of old Havana to observe markets and the tourist industry and visits to Ruta del Esclavo in Matanzas, Havana's Chinatown and Varadero Beach.
"I learned a tremendous amount about the people, their viewpoints and the culture," Frusher said. "We were encouraged to ask questions and to meet with professors and students independently while on the trip. No topic was 'forbidden.' It was great to be part of such a powerful educational experience – not only with the Cuban professors, students and people, but interacting and sharing with 14 other CIEE participants."
Primary goals of the faculty development program include facilitating connections between instructors in different countries and enhancing their teaching skills.
"Just the fact that I have additional information about Cuba and photos to share will enhance presentations about Cuba in my culture class," Frusher said. "This visit also provided information that will be appropriate for other classes I teach such as motivation of learning and instructional strategies."
An ancillary goal of CIEE and the faculty development is to facilitate student travel, though the status of Cuba-U.S. relations might make such arrangements problematic for the visitors to Cuba.
Nonetheless, Frusher said she always encourages students to seize opportunities to visit other countries.
"Travel allows us to meet other people, make new friends, have new experiences and learn new things," she said. "Also, travel can get us out of our comfort zones. We gain a different perspective and appreciate how other people see the world."
Frusher said she was thankful to NSU and CIEE for facilitating the faculty development seminar.
"Otherwise this opportunity would not have been possible," she said. "It is an invaluable experience and one that I am appreciative to have had in my lifetime. I have made many new friends, had wonderful experiences and learned lots of new things that I would not have been able to do otherwise."
Four other instructors participated in other NSU International Faculty Development Fellowship Programs this summer. Dr. Sandra Edwards, associate professor of business administration at NSU-Muskogee, traveled to Pollenzo and Naples, Italy. Dr. JoAnn Starkweather, professor of information systems, went to Shanghai and Sozhou, China. Dr. Erik Terdal, associate professor of biology at NSU-Broken Arrow, visited Monteverde, Costa Rica and Dr. Andrew Vassar, associate professor of humanities, traveled to Dakar, Goree Island, Toubab Dialaw and Poponguine in Senegal.
For more information about the program visit International Programs.
For more information about CIEE visit the website.
Published: 8/13/2012 8:10:16 AM