New possible study abroad opportunity

Other than a few exceptions, it is illegal for an American to visit Cuba. One way to go is by joining Washington State University Vancouver’s study abroad program and speaking with Maria Lopez, instructor in the foreign language department.
Maria Lopez knows Cuba. She lived there for 43 years and has been trying without success to plan a Cuba trip for the last two years. One big problem, it’s expensive.
“It is $6,000 roughly,” Lopez said. “I want it to cost no more than $5,000 because students have to pay insurance as well.” Lopez said that she couldn’t figure out how the budget worked out. She didn’t know the specifics behind it. “I don’t understand the budget. I now have a financial officer that helps me with it.”
Six thousand may sound like a lot of money but it includes everything from the plane ticket, the food and other necessary travel expenses. Students would have to pay insurance along with the plane ticket. If a student were to get sick or in trouble, there wouldn’t be help for them in Cuba, they would have to come back to the United States and the insurance would cover that emergency trip.
If you’re discouraged to go to Cuba because of the price, Lopez said that financial aid could most likely cover the immediate cost of the trip as long as you’re a full time student.
If Lopez’s plan works out and she can get students interested, the schedule is set for June 12, during the first summer semester. The students would receive three credits for attending the trip, and stay in Cuba for 15 days. Lopez said that she plans to take the students to Havana as well as other provinces.
Although this would be Lopez’s first trip abroad with WSU she has experience taking college students abroad. When she taught at Portland State University in 2006, she brought students to Guatemala where they spent three weeks. Lopez said that the group stayed mostly in Guatemala City and Panajachel as well.
In addition to planning trips to Cuba, Lopez has kept busy at WSU Vancouver. She was one of the first Spanish instructors at the college and the founder of the Spanish Club in 2007. In the past, Lopez has brought students to Spanish plays in Portland and to the Latino America Film Festival.
To learn more about Lopez’s trip to Cuba or express interest in joining the trip, contact Lopez at lee-lopez@vancouver.wsu.edu.

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