International Educator - March/April 2016 - 6

FRONTLINES

For us in the United States where health care
is hotly debated, and recognizing that most
of Europe has universal health care, it's clear
that the United States can learn from Cuba,
and I am hopeful that some of the advancements that Cuba has made will be lessons
upon which we can draw.
In addition to what we can learn from
the Cuban education system, it is important
for the United States and Cuba to develop
closer ties for several other reasons. Foremost, a closer relationship is essential to the
United States having a healthier relationship in the hemisphere. Our isolation from
Cuba has set a negative tone for so much of
the U.S. engagement in the western hemisphere. In addition, our foreign policy must
be informed by knowledge of the perspectives and interests of our neighbors, so this
period of nonengagement will have negative
consequences for years to come.
Cuban universities have a long history of
collaboration with universities around the
world. They are experienced in doing collaborative research and hosting students-a
group of 10 Swedish students was on campus
while we were there, for a two-month Spanish
language course. So, they come to the table
with U.S. institutions with well-developed
protocols and considerable enthusiasm for
the value of international engagement. They
desire interested, committed faculty and administrators at U.S. institutions prepared to
work with them on establishing programs
that can work in the short term and have potential to grow in the future. And, they want
our help getting the "blockade lifted."
The rest of the world has been engaged
in faculty and student exchange and collaboration with Cuban institutions for decades.
Although a few U.S. institutions have been
able to maintain research, faculty, and student
collaboration during this period, it is critical
that we take the opportunity provided by
normalization to actively explore what we
can learn and do together on this first stage
of our journey toward lifting the "blockade."
I am excited that the United States
and Cuba are now on a path toward active engagement. Of course, NAFSA will
6  

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M A R + A P R .16

"We are ready to
engage with Cuba and learn
from its deep commitment
to universal free education
and health care. "
continue to support policies that foster
engagement between our two countries.
With the decisions of President Obama and
President Castro to normalize diplomatic
relations and open our two embassies and
the U.S. administration's steps to begin to
ease restrictions on engagement, there is a
framework for the efforts of public leaders,
education leaders, and nongovernmental
organizations to establish relationships and
strategies for achieving meaningful actions
in the years ahead.
NAFSA will continue to offer resources
for learning about Cuba and engaging with
universities on specific projects. On December 17, NAFSA announced the NAFSA
Cuba Engagement Initiative (www.nafsa.
org/cubaengagement), a new program designed to promote sustainable partnerships
between U.S. and Cuban academic institutions. The planned initiative consists of two
interconnected projects that will lead to
sustainable academic partnerships and mobility between the United States and Cuba:
the Cuba-U.S. Higher Education Dialogue
Project and the Educators for Cuba Campaign. Last fall, a round of grants for the
100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative
included a Cuban institution. At NAFSA
2016, the fourth Forum on Latin America
will include a focus on Cuba. We will offer
a thread of sessions on Cuba to inform your
own thinking and planning. We have invited
a number of Cuban faculty and university
leaders to attend NAFSA 2016 to share their
ideas and seek collaborators. Our Presidents'
Day and Provosts' Summit will include an
expert on Cuba to inform their perspectives
on establishing ties, and we will also offer a
session by renowned sociologist Guillermo
Grenier, which will analyze the social forces
driving the changes in the Cuban-American
community in the United States and the Cuban society of the island nation.

The NAFSA policy stance on international travel is clear: We believe that travel
is inherently educational. We will continue
to advocate for lifting the embargo and to
encourage all higher education leaders to do
the same. For more than 50 years, U.S. institutions and citizens have been cut off from
our nearby neighbor, based on a rationale
that made sense to some policymakers, but
which has produced no changes that serve
our national security or the intellectual
and economic engagement of the region.
While much of the world-from Europe to
Africa to Asia-has (to the extent permitted
by the United States) engaged with Cuba,
we are restricted by our own government
and forced to miss valuable engagement
and learning opportunities with potential
Cuban partners. It is clear that with the
embargo in place, everyone loses. Being
unable to nurture relationships, engage
in collaboration and trade, and contribute to each other's development makes it
impossible for either country to reach our
full potential. We are ready to engage with
Cuba and learn from its deep commitment
to universal free education and health care.
We need to understand the role Cuba has
played in providing health care and other
development support around the world
in response to natural disasters. Clearly,
the embargo is a failed policy and it's time
to lift it. Congressional action is required,
which is why NAFSA's continued advocacy is critical. And it is also important that
higher education, business, and agriculture
leaders work together to make the case to
Congress that lifting the embargo is in our
nation's best interests and reflects our national values.
It is critical that NAFSA remain strategically involved in this new chapter in
Cuba-U.S. relations, and I encourage all
of our institutions and our citizens to explore what each of us can do to advance
this agenda. Learn more at www.nafsa.org/
cubaengagement.
IE
MARLENE M. JOHNSON is executive director
and chief executive officer of NAFSA:
Association of International Educators.


http://www.nafsa.com/cubaengagement http://www.nafsa.com/cubaengagement http://www.nafsa.com/cubaengagement http://www.nafsa.com/cubaengagement

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - March/April 2016

Contents
International Educator - March/April 2016 - Cover1
International Educator - March/April 2016 - Cover2
International Educator - March/April 2016 - Contents
International Educator - March/April 2016 - 2
International Educator - March/April 2016 - 3
International Educator - March/April 2016 - 4
International Educator - March/April 2016 - 5
International Educator - March/April 2016 - 6
International Educator - March/April 2016 - 7
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International Educator - March/April 2016 - Cover3
International Educator - March/April 2016 - Cover4
International Educator - March/April 2016 - FCover1
International Educator - March/April 2016 - FCover2
International Educator - March/April 2016 - F1
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International Educator - March/April 2016 - F20
International Educator - March/April 2016 - FCover3
International Educator - March/April 2016 - FCover4
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