Office of International Programs

Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) in Cuba (Summer) Spanish for Healthcare Workers

At a Glance
CourseSpanish for Healthcare Workers
Location: Havana, Cuba
Credit: 4 U.S. semester hours/credits
Pre-requisite: Two years of college-level Spanish or equivalent required 
Approximate Dates: June 3 - July 1, 2018
Application Deadline: March 15, 2018 

Cuba Overview

One of the longest running socialist experiments in history, Cuba is at a critical crossroad. Cuba’s political and economic spheres have long been subjects of interest and debate providing fertile ground for exciting academic inquiry. Havana, the capital city, was founded nearly 500 years ago, and due to its location, became a center of ship-building in the Caribbean and a strategic stopping point in the Spanish colonial empire. Today it is a sprawling metropolis, home to 2 million residents, and a mix of European, Latin, and American influences. Historic Old Havana, with its diverse architectural styles, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)

The Brown/CASA Cuba summer program is offered by the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA), which is comprised of several leading research universities in the US and abroad. CASA member institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Melbourne, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University. Brown/CASA programs currently are offered in Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Ireland, and Spain. Brown University is the administering institution for the CASA Cuba Program.


This summer program offers students the opportunity to take one course:  Spanish for Healthcare Workers. Each student's course and grade will appear on a Casa de las Américas (Havana) transcript

Spanish for Healthcare Workers course

This intensive course is designed to provide students with the linguistic and cultural competencies necessary to communicate with and help treat Spanish-speaking patients with limited English proficiency.  The course will include a general review of pertinent grammar and specific vocabulary groups relating to the healthcare professions; assessment and care of patients, vocabulary useful for establishing rapport, and discussions leading to cultural competencies. Participants will practice communication skills by writing medical and social/personal histories, learn vocabulary to conduct basic exams in Spanish, and explore cultural and social factors that may affect communication with Spanish-speaking patients through readings, films and information on health care systems and professions in a variety of settings. By the end of the class, students will be able to ask questions and provide answers in common medical situations in Spanish, conduct patient interviews and understand a wider variety of possible responses from patients.

Orientation and On-Site Support

The program begins with a group orientation program in Miami, Florida. Afterward, students fly to Cuba together and have a brief on-site orientation in Havana. Orientation activities introduce students to Cuba and its healthcare system and helps students understand basic social, political, and cross-cultural elements that inform everyday life in Cuba. CASA-appointed on-site staff assist students upon arrival and throughout their stay in Havana.


Students share living accommodations in various private residences provided by Casa de las Américas. All residences are safe, clean, and secure, and located in the Vedado district, which is within walking distance to Casa de las Américas. Students share ample air-conditioned bedrooms (double occupancy) with modern toilets and showers, and are provided with breakfast and dinner each day. Washing machines are available, and safe drinking water is provided.  

Program Faculty 

Spanish for Healthcare Workers course

Dr. Jill Kuhnheim
is a visiting Professor of Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She has been a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Kansas, where she chaired the department and served as Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Professor Kuhnheim has been an editor for the Río de la Plata Poetry Section of the Library of Congress’s Handbook of Latin American Studies and has authored various books and articles. Her books include Gender, Politics, and Poetry in Twentieth Century Argentina;  Spanish American Poetry at the End of the 20th Century: Textual Disruptions; and Beyond the Page: Poetry and Performance in Spanish America. She was selected as a KU “Woman of Distinction” in 2013, and is currently co-editing a book on teaching contemporary Latin American Poetries.

Dr. Enrique Beldarraín Chaple, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the research department at the Centro Nacional de Información de Ciencias Médicas, and full professor and researcher in the history of public health at the University of Havana Medical School. Dr. Beldarraín Chaple has published five books and 46 articles about the history of medicine and epidemics in Cuba.  

Eligibility Requirements and Application Instructions

The Brown/CASA Cuba summer program is open to undergraduate students from Brown and from other CASA member schools. Applications from visiting students from non-CASA member institutions will be considered on a space available basis. Students must be in good academic standing to apply, and have two years of college-level Spanish or equivalent backgroundStudents should apply by the application deadline using Brown's online application system via the "apply now" and "return to application" buttons on the left side of this page.

Program Costs and Financial Aid

Each student's summer program bill will cover the following: fees for 1 course unit (i.e., 4 US credit hours), housing, orientation/welcome activities, daily breakfast and dinner, round-trip airfare between Miami and Havana, course-related excursions, and on-site support services. The amount billed does not include round-trip airfare between the student's home and Miami, daily lunch, books/academic materials, local transportation, personal expenses, or health insurance/medications - students are expected to pay for those on their own. See the 2017 estimated program cost for further information (for 2018, use the estimated costs for one course).  

Students seeking financial aid should discuss options with their home institution's study abroad and/or financial aid office. In addition, students can apply for outside scholarship funding through other organizations. Visit the following websites for further information regarding scholarship opportunities: 

Grant Opportunities

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