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Faculty exchange with Havana

OliverasIf Pablo Olivares looks a little chilly, it's because he still hasn't got acclimatized -- but apart from the cold, he's having a fine time.

Dr. Olivares has been teaching this term in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as part of a faculty exchange with the University of Havana.

He is delighted with the multi-cultural atmosphere here, and the warm welcome he got from his Concordia colleagues. After an initial period of hesitation, he said, he has also developed good rapport with his students.

The differences between Cuban and Canadian approaches to learning are subtle but interesting. Olivares approves of our convention of office hours, and feels that students benefit greatly from this one-on-one contact. He also likes the fact that students here are expected to do individual projects as well as writing exams.

However, he noticed that our students are more subject to stress. "They are very focused on their marks," he said. "I wonder if they have the time to really enjoy their learning, to discover the connections between their courses."

Dr. Olivares left his wife and children, aged 5 and 10, back in Havana, but he would like to bring them here for a year or so to experience the attractions of Montreal and, yes, a snowy winter.

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