March 5,1998

Concordia makes Cuban connections

Barbara Black

The Pope isn't the only one visiting Cuba these days. Concordia faculty members have been forging links with institutions there that could lead to several formal agreements."
Mathematics Professor Twareque Ali has been to the University of Havana twice in the past 12 months, giving lectures and talking to academics, including the director of international relations."
"The University of Havana has a strong undergraduate math program, but no PhD, and they would like us to help them in that regard," Ali said. Mario San Martin Gomez, who is interested in mathematical physics, read about our Mathematics Department on the World Wide Web. He contacted Ali, who responded with more information. San Martin promptly enrolled in the MSc program, and hopes eventually to get his doctorate.
Now Ali is organizing a two-week workshop on wavelets and differential equations, to take place at the University of Havana from April 27 to May 10.
He and San Martin will go, as well as Mathematics and Statistics Chair Joel Hillel and PhD students Anna Krasowska and Renata Deptula. Students from several other Cuban institutions will come to the University of Havana for the workshops.
Among them will be another Cuban Web-surfer who has corresponded with Ali, a student who was looking on the Internet for a program in meteorological mathematics, and is finding what he wants here in Montreal.
Ali understands just enough Spanish to get by. "But I was surprised at how much English is spoken there," he said. "It's sad that they are so much in need. It is such an educated country. They are so hospitable, and so grateful for any support."

English teachers from Cuba spend summers here
For five years now, Concordia‚s teachers of English as a second language (TESL) have had a good friendship with the Asociacion de Linguistas de Cuba. The TESL Centre and the Concordia English-Language Institute (CELI) raise money to bring two or three teachers of English as a second language to Montreal each summer, and arrange for them to be billetted with local families to keep costs down.
For six weeks, these visiting scholars audit courses, take TESL tutorials, and make contacts with ESL teachers here. Each December, a group of Montreal teachers and graduate students attend an international linguistics conference in Cuba.
These two links, and a third with Universidad Pedagagica Pinar del Rio, may lead to formal agreements. That‚s the hope of Professor Bir Sahni, Concordia‚s Director of the Centre for International Academic Cooperation, who has been working towards that goal with officials in Ottawa and their counterparts in Havana.
Having formal agreements would facilitate exchanges of students and professors for full-length programs and shorter visits, such as lecture series and workshops.   _ BB

Copyright 1998 Thursday Report
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