NATCHITOCHES – A group from Northwestern State University visited Havana, Cuba, last week to develop relationships and sign agreements for student/faculty exchanges at the Instituto de Superior Arte (ISA) and the Institute Superior de Desiño (Higher Institute of Design) and lay the groundwork to explore curricular alignment in art and industrial design programs.
During the visit, several NSU students showcased their talents at the International Festival of Arts, a weeklong festival held in various venues throughout the city. The students were the first to represent an America university in the 40-year history of the festival.
“Three of our music students, Blayne Fugere, Leanny Munoz and Ronald Rodriguez, did solo recitals, while two of our fine and graphic arts students, Ethan Stelly and Isabella Jones, visited the School of Design where they were able to visit with students and faculty regarding the field and see what sorts of techniques and materials they use in creating their artwork,” said Dr. Greg Handel, director of NSU’s School of Creative and Performing Arts. Stelly and Jones also visited a store featuring the work of Cuban students and faculty, giving them a glimpse of the business side of the field.
The visit included meetings with administrators at both institutions to execute agreements for future collaboration, as well as a meeting between the Cuban Ministry of Culture and faculty in the School of Creative and Performing Arts, Mirla Enriquez, professor of art, and Dr. Paula Furr, professor and department head of new media, journalism and communication arts.
“We discussed ways NSU could encourage and facilitate participation in the festival by other U.S. universities and presented an opportunity for ISA students and faculty to perform in Natchitoches at Jazz Festival next spring,” said NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson. “Most importantly, we received the ministry’s blessing to pursue our partnership with the universities under its purview.”
NSU students Emily Ziering and Sarah Gandy documented the trip via video interviews and captured the NSU students in different learning situations. Student government leader Chantasia Grasty visited with Cuban student leaders about their experiences in student government.
Northwestern has pursued many other agreements with international institutions in the last four years to recruit talented students from Colombia and Latin American in initiatives led by Dr. Marcus Jones who has been instrumental in coordinating international student projects abroad and on the NSU campus.