Cuba study abroad program canceled

By Michael Marra

Dominican has canceled another 2015 study abroad opportunity due to low enrollment; this time the 3-week trip to Cuba.

The Cuba program needed 10 applicants but only eight students applied by the Oct. 31 deadline. This comes just two weeks after the cancelation of the study abroad program in Ghana, also because of low enrollment.

There are two other study abroad trips planned for this school year: Guatemala and Haiti. Sue Ponremy, director of International Studies, has no concerns that the cancelations of Ghana and Cuba will effect these other two trips. “I can’t foresee the future on if they will go or not,” Ponremy said.

Spanish professor Lisa Petrov said a common factor in the cancelations might be the cost. The Cuba study abroad trip cost $5,335 plus the amount of money you need for personal expenses. If money is the factor, Petrov has her idea of improvements to make the trip cost less. She said one way to lower the cost of the trip is to apply for financial aid help but not every student can get financial aid. Petrov said fundraising and grant money could be raised as well.

The cancelation comes after two successful trips to Cuba. In 2011, 20 students went on the first trip to Cuba. Two years later, enough students enrolled to make the trip successful a second time. According to Petrov, the Cuba study abroad information sessions this year had upwards of 25-30 people interested in applying but most of the applicants failed to follow through.

Extending the deadlines in hopes of more applicants was not a serious consideration, according to Sue Ponremy. “In my 20 years of doing study abroad, if you extend the deadline, you still don’t get more apps,” she said.

The disappointment didn’t end with these two advisors. It got to the students as well. Monika Stepkowski, a junior double majoring in business administration and corporate communication, attended an information session, sent in her application and was planning on attending the trip. Stepkowski said, “I am disappointed because I wanted to go for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Petrov said she is disappointed that students like Stepkowski are missing this unique experience. Oetriv said, “Cuba is a tropical paradise without all the marketing, like a Señor Frogs in Mexico.” Petrov said Cuba is a very intense and culturally rich place to be. According to Petrov, the Cuba study abroad program will be offered again but maybe not until the 2016-2017 school year.