New US travel restrictions to and from Cuba will not have an immediate effect on so-called Study Abroad educational exchanges between the two countries. Since 2013 Centre College Spanish Professor Genny Ballard has taken her students to the Communist island and when WUKY spoke with her this week she had just returned from another trip to Cuba shortly before the new policies were enacted.
"I feel like these exeperiences have increased the inter-cultural competence of my students and have allowed the Cuban people to meet our students and faculty members who are very different travelers than tourists," Ballard told WUKY. "And while I'm apprehensive about the impact of the new economic restrictions on the Cuban people I am hopeful that we'll be able to continue the educational travel to Cuba," Ballard added.
In addition to leading the study abroad program, Ballard is also in the middle of a research project that analyzes the impact of the Cuban economy on artistic production.
As of this week the United States no longer permits group educational and cultural trips known as “people to people” trips to the island unless they were booked before June 5th, nor does it allow cruises, private yachts or fishing vessels to stop in Cuba. However, academic study abroad exchanges are still permitted.