Dean's Message - February 2018

University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences Dean Marjorie Aelion

Dean Marjorie Aelion

February 23, 2018

Welcome to the brink of spring. I had the pleasure of experiencing summer last week in Cuba as part of the Institute of International Education delegation that attended the Congreso Universidad Cuban International Education Conference in Havana from Feb. 11-17.

In 2011, I was as a member of an American Public Health Association delegation to Cuba. We had many outings to community health centers, hospitals and other health promotion agencies, and witnessed first-hand Cuba’s approach to community public health, health promotion, and medicine.

It was this experience that prompted me to help implement a semester abroad experience for Public Health Sciences undergraduate students that had been scheduled in Cuba for fall 2017. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma intervened and the program had to be canceled.

I’m happy to announce that we’ve rescheduled the Public Health Sciences semester abroad program for spring 2019.

Last week I visited with some of the wonderful Cuban families who will provide home stays for our students, and viewed the facilities and classrooms where the students will learn. I know the students will be in excellent hands during their Cuban semester. But classroom learning is only part of the experience we want our students to have. An opportunity to visit community health centers, ask questions about Cuba’s alternative approaches to public health, and engage with the local community will be an equally important learning experience. I am excited for the students who will participate in the upcoming spring semester, and glad it will be well after the hurricane season.