Monday, July 10, 2006
SCSU Scholars notes that some colleges (and professors) are miffed that the Bush administration has mandated a ten-week minimum stay for study abroad programs to Cuba.
As SCSU's King notes:If one really wants to study a place, you would want to visit for more than three weeks. I spent five in Egypt but would never dare say I know Egypt. I spent seven weeks in Indonesia and barely understand some of the place. If you are going to study a country, you should stay a while, learn what it's really like to live there. But that's NOT what organizers of study abroad trips to socialist paradises want!
Indeed. My trip abroad to Costa Rica as a college junior lasted fourteen weeks. That was more than the college spring semester, and four weeks less than the mandate for Cuba. And, I still believe I didn't get a "full picture" of the country. Hence, I think King is right on the money that organizers of trips to Castro's island don't want students to stay too long to get a "fuller picture" of the society there. What the hell can one realistically do in, say, three weeks? Hit the beach, drink plenty of cheap rum, smoke fine cigars and stay in nice hotels forbidden to ordinary Cubans? Probably. If they have to stay ten weeks, especially living with a host family, well, the realities of the "socialist paradise" may just weep out to students!
Ironically, I've learned that the University of Delaware has discontinued the spring semester abroad to Costa Rica, opting instead for the Winter Session trip. Which, for reasons discussed above, is a terrible shame. Winter Session lasts barely one month. It took approximately that long for my [minor field of study] Spanish to really get into gear on the way to fluency. The good thing for me was, I had another ten weeks in which to make use of it! Not to mention that much more time to explore the country, meet more people and engage in more academic programs.