- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Some Sioux City college students will have a new option for studying abroad next year: Cuba.

The move comes in the wake of President Barack Obama’s executive action last year to normalize relations with Cuba after a half-century freeze.

Morningside College students can sign up for a study-abroad program in Havana through Spanish Studies Abroad, a national organization that facilitates programs to six Spanish-speaking countries, the Sioux City Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1A9IJd1 ) on Saturday.

The first group of students will travel to Cuba as early as the fall of 2016, said Morningside Spanish professor Gail Ament. The application process takes roughly a year, as applicants are carefully scrutinized by both Morningside College and Spanish Studies Abroad, Ament said.

Ament last took a group of five students to Cuba in 2004 for three weeks and said students fell in love with the culture and formed lasting bonds with local residents.

“Knowing the affectionate relations that U.S. students and Cubans are capable of establishing, I felt euphoric that … more of our young people would be able to experience that again,” she said.

In Cuba, students will attend classes at the University of Havana as part of the semester long, 16-credit program. Ament said they will take Spanish classes as well as a class about Cuban culture.

The program is suitable for students who have passed at least intermediate levels of Spanish but is also open to Spanish-speaking students who haven’t taken formal classes, , Ament said.

Tom Millington, resident director in Havana for Spanish Studies Abroad, said students will not only attend classes but also participate in a number of activities that will allow them to collaborate with their Cuban peers. Projects include a debate and constructing a bilingual newsletter.

Ament said students should prepare to lose some conveniences they might take for granted - like on-demand access to electricity, running water and an Internet service.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com


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