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SUNY Potsdam & Universidad de Cienfuegos Launch New Cuba Summer Session Program

February 10, 2023

Bold New Study Abroad Partnership Gives Students the Chance to Earn 6 College Credits in 6 Weeks in Cuba—No Spanish Skills Required 

SUNY Potsdam and the Universidad de Cienfuegos are partnering to offer a summer study abroad program in Cuba, allowing students to earn six college credits in six weeks, while immersing themselves in Cuban culture. The historic city center of Cienfuegos (pictured) is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A bold new study abroad program will allow American university students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Cuban culture and earn six college credits in six unforgettable weeks this summer, thanks to a partnership between The State University of New York at Potsdam and La Universidad de Cienfuegos. 

The 2023 Cienfuegos Summer Session is the most extensive and diverse summer study abroad session ever offered at a Cuban university. All actively enrolled undergraduates studying in the U.S. are welcome to apply. There will be a live webinar about the program on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. (EST). To register and find out more, visit 

We’ve worked hard to make sure this program is affordable and accessible to students across SUNY and beyond. The courses are co-taught by highly qualified professors from SUNY Potsdam and Universidad de Cienfuegos, the setting is beautiful and deeply historic, and the hospitality of the Cuban people is legendary. This is guaranteed to be a transformative study abroad experience,” said SUNY Potsdam Interim Provost Dr. Alan Hersker. 

Students will be able to choose two courses from a range of topics and earn college credit from SUNY Potsdam, while spending six weeks exploring Cuba and taking part in experiential learning activities along the way. There is no Spanish language requirement to participate, and all classes will be taught in English or in Spanish with translation. 

The deadline to apply for the program is March 15. Applications are being accepted now on a rolling basis. 

Known as “La Perla Del Sur (The Pearl of the South),” Cienfuegos is located on the southern coast on a bay off the Caribbean Sea. Its historic city center in the French neoclassical style is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Students will stay with host families and be immersed in the daily life of the city of Cienfuegos for approximately six weeks. 

The summer session will include experiential learning opportunities through work and exchanges with community projects, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other sectors within the community tied to each student’s selected course of study. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Havana and the colonial city of Trinidad for an expanded cultural experience. 

SUNY Potsdam has been a leader in SUNY’s Cuba engagement since establishing a multifaceted exchange relationship with the University of Cienfuegos in 2017, including joint performances with faculty and students from The Crane School of Music’s Latin Jazz Ensemble that people are still talking about in Cuba! This sort of educational, cultural and artistic exchange supports rich global learning experiences from students of all backgrounds in the best way possible. It is wonderful to see Potsdam taking the lead with reopening SUNY’s study abroad activity in Cuba,” said Sally Crimmins Villela, associate vice chancellor for global affairs for the State University of New York. 

Members of the Crane Latin Ensemble from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music perform during an educational tour of Cuba organized in partnership with the Universidad de Cienfuegos in 2017.

The 2023 Cienfuegos Summer Session course selections include: 

For over 60 years, it’s been nearly impossible for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. This partnership between the Universidad de Cienfuegos and SUNY Potsdam opens up new opportunities for an exchange of cultures and ideas,” said Dr. Steven Marqusee (Hon. ’19), dean emeritus of SUNY Potsdam’s School of Arts and Sciences, who began the partnership between the two institutions starting in 2015. 

SUNY Potsdam students and faculty pose for a photo during a past trip to the Universidad de Cienfuegos in Cuba. A new summer session is planned for 2023, giving students from U.S. universities the chance to earn six college credits in six weeks while studying at Cienfuegos—with no Spanish language skills required.

SUNY Potsdam and the Universidad de Cienfuegos have worked together for eight years, building an educational partnership to offer study abroad programs, short-term trips, curricular development and a pedagogical exchange. SUNY Potsdam is the first institution within the State University of New York to develop a long-term partnership with a Cuban university outside of the country’s capital, Havana. The Crane Latin Ensemble completed an educational tour in Cienfuegos in 2017, returning to perform Cuban music both on campus and in schools across New York City, as part of the cultural exchange. 

The program is administered through Civitas Global Educational Services, which is dedicated to creating bridges between cultures and nations through education and partnership building. To learn more about the summer session, including application information and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit or email 

About SUNY Potsdam:  

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit 

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