Lehman Today Online Magazine Lehman Today Spring 2016 - Page 8

development Lehman Provost and Latin American Professor are Part of Historic Delegation to Cuba Lehman Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Anny Morrobel-Sosa and Professor Teresita Levy, an associate professor of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, were part of an historic delegation that could have long-range ramifications for future higher education partnerships between U.S. colleges and Cuba. The two represented Lehman—one of 12 institutions in attendance—as part of the International Academics Partnership Program (IAPP) organized by the Institute of International Education (IIE) this past October. Morrobel-Sosa and Levy referred to their historic trip as transformational on both a personal and professional level. Along with the IIE delegation, they spent a week meeting with public dignitaries, educators, and students in Havana and several other cities around the country. The Obama administration’s restoration of diplomatic ties for the first time since 1961 has created a sense of exciting possibilities between the two nations, but educators are proceeding slowly, according to Morrobel-Sosa. She emphasized the importance of developing long-term and lasting relationships with Cuban officials. “It’s like discovering a new world,” Morrobel-Sosa said. “The Cuban university leaders are eager to participate in the expansion of knowledge and the creation of new ideas.” Professor Levy is interested in taking a leadership role in the school’s development of a Cuban partnership with Lehman and is optimistic that with thoughtful planning, cooperation, and institutional support, an eight-week, six-credit course could be developed at Lehman by the summer of 2017. For Levy, the visit to Cuba was a return to the island after conducting graduate research as a student at the CUNY Graduate Center in 1999 and 2000. On a personal level, Morrobel-Sosa found the experience of traveling to Cuba transformational. As a native of the Dominican Republic, she was able to communicate fluently with the people she met and felt that the strong connection was at least in part fueled by a shared history. In addition to this kinship, there was another personal connection. “I have a relative who is alive because she had surgery in Cuba,” she said. “She had a tumor behind her right ear and the family couldn’t afford the operation, so they flew to Cuba. I was gratified to see the training that Cuban doctors received, that saved the life of one of my relatives.” During the trip, Morrobel-Sosa and Levy visited six of the nation’s 44 schools with the IIE delegation, including the Universidad de Ciencias Medicas de La Habana, its prestigious medical school, and the Instituto Superior de Arte, the nation’s impressive art institute. As part of the itinerary, the academics also spent an evening at the home of the ambassador to the European Union and met with Cuban ambassadors from Belgium, Brazil, Norway, and Canada. — David Koeppel 1 1. Old Havana streetscape. 2. The town square in Matanzas, Cuba. 3. José Martí National Library. 4. One of the rooms in the Cuban National Archives in Havana. 6 Lehman Today In January, Lehman College’s Chief Librarian Kenneth Schlesinger was one of a group of ten CUNY librarians and archivists to go to Havana. An organizer and co-leader of the delegation, Schlesinger’s second trip to the island (his first was in 2010) left him optimistic that the two nations can work together to facilitate research and scholarship. The goal of the trip was to tour libraries and archives and meet with Cuban colleagues. As the group mission statement explained, they hoped to “promote international scholarly relations, increase understanding and goodwill, and demonstrate the proactive leadership of CUNY Libraries.” 4