Cuba’s relatively low crime rate and national priority on education has resulted in a surge in interest for study abroad opportunities for Americans.
The island nation’s tropical climate and stunning architecture add to the allure for students seeking a unique experience without having to travel thousands of miles from home.
President Obama’s announcement that the US would shift from a policy of isolation to one of engagement one year ago has had a significant impact on educational exchanges between the two countries.
The 2015 Open Doors report showed a 13 percent increase in U.S. students studying abroad in Cuba, and a 36 percent increase in Cuban students studying in the United States, compared to the prior year.
The US government is working to increase the number of US and Cuban students who have the opportunity to study and learn together. One way is through the President’s premiere education initiative, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, which seeks to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of students from countries in the Western Hemisphere studying in the United States to 100,000 by 2020.
This month, Vice President Biden announced the newest Innovation Fund grant winners, including two new US-Cuban university exchange partnerships between Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Seminario Evangélico de Teología (Matanzas, Cuba), and Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Facultad de Derecho (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and Universidad de La Habana (Havana, Cuba). These are in addition to a grant awarded earlier this year to Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) and La Universidad de las Artes in Havana (Havana, Cuba).
Outside of US government initiatives, The NAFSA (Association of International Educators), the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education, has announced the NAFSA Cuba Engagement Initiative, a new program designed to promote sustainable partnerships between US and Cuban academic institutions.
Starting next summer, Cuba entrepreneurs will be able to study business in Florida. StartUp Cuba and Florida International University have teamed up to offer a summer program designed to foster and support entrepreneurs in Cuba.
Here’s a Google Hangout on educational exchanges and opportunities for US persons and organizations in Cuba.