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Message from the President
Crossing Boundaries and Creating Connections
Now more than ever, a global perspective is a critical aspect of our students’ education. At Albright, we have many ways of crossing boundaries and creating connections for faculty and students both in and out of the classroom.
Naturally, an important way of fostering an international perspective is to encourage our American students to study abroad and welcoming students from many nations to the Albright community. Recent study abroad possibilities for Albright students include Chile, Germany, Peru, Iceland, Korea and Northern Ireland, among others.
The most recent opportunity to establish meaningful educational and cultural exchange for Albright was a visit to Cuba, where Kristen Woodward, associate professor of art, and I recently traveled at the invitation of Alex Rosenberg, Albright benefactor and art connoisseur. As participants in a week-long cultural exchange program in the arts, (arts and culture, medicine and humanitarian exchange are not affected by our nation’s embargo on Cuba), our goal was to connect with both the art community and leaders of institutions of higher learning.
As you will read in this issue of The Albright Reporter, Kristen Woodward is one of 10 faculty participating in an innovative, $120,000 interdisciplinary grant project to develop new courses that integrate Latin American and Caribbean Studies into their various disciplines. She is developing a course called "Revolutionary Print Making" that explores printmaking as an art form often used to express political messages as well as being a way to get art into the hands of the poor and working class. Kristen recently traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico with some of the other faculty working on the grant project, so the opportunity to visit Cuba was a wonderful benefit to her work.
Kristen and I literally felt as if we were stepping back in history as we visited a society that has made only small progress while the world has developed exponentially around it. Cuba is a country of many paradoxes: modern hotels side by side with majestic but crumbling public buildings and families living in shipping containers. The Cuban people are still under food rationing, yet they have found a way to remain vibrant, extremely friendly, open and amazingly hopeful that better times are ahead. They want to be educated, and they want to see peace between our nations.
We discovered that Cuban art students and professors are eager to study in the United States, although cost is definitely a restricting factor. Artists would love the opportunity to come to a college like Albright, to take advantage of our fine digital media program, to improve their English, and experience the free world.
Of course, the big question is what could our own students gain from an educational exchange with Cuba? I believe they could learn a great deal. If we established, as a partnership with Cuba, for example, an opportunity for Woodward to teach an art course to Albright and Cuban students on Cuba, Albright students would have an amazing interdisciplinary experience. They would learn much about art, but also about economics, political science, sociology, communications, and more. Cuba could be a powerful classroom to learn about the differences and similarities in our people, our systems of government, and the ways we participate in a global community.
With the Hispanic population of the United States steadily increasing, and the Hispanic population of the City of Reading at 37 percent, the ability to speak Spanish, and to understand language and culture is of increasing importance. So we are excited about the possibilities of educational and cultural exchange with Cuba for many reasons. I hope this exchange can come quickly to fruition, possibly by Interim 2004. I hope also that it will be only one of many new opportunities to help our students become educated, fully engaged, global citizens of the world.
As this issue of The Reporter goes to press, we are 13 days into the war with Iraq. It becomes daily more evident that the issues and positions are frighteningly complex. This only reinforces for me our obligation to provide our students a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. We are citizens of a world where we can take nothing for granted, and we need more than ever to understand, to communicate and to engage with each other in pursuit of peace and prosperity.
During the uncertain days ahead, Albright is committed more than ever to providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and viewpoints, and offering our students many opportunities for learning, critical thinking and analysis.
On behalf of all of us here, I wish godspeed and safety to our students, alumni, friends and family who have been deployed to Iraq. At this writing these include students Matthew Robison ’05, Theodore Vogt ’05, and Keith Badger and Scott Eckhart, Accelerated Degree Completion Program. My daughter Amanda, a captain in the U.S. Army, is also on active duty, as well as brothers, sons and cousins of our faculty and staff. I ask you to keep them and all Albrightians in your prayers until they return safely home.
Dr. Henry A. Zimon
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