The AACRAO Cuba Project: A Blog Series with Martha Van Devender - Part 4

Part 4: Next Steps

Once we got back from Cuba, we all deposited our notes in our group Google Drive. Even though we were at many of the sessions together, there was some variety. So it is important that we had records from each site visit or presenter. We still need to analyze the notes then cull out facts and topics for further research. The group had been divided in research areas before we got in country, but those divisions broke down once we saw the amount of access we would actually have to presenters and Cuban colleagues.  We did the best that we could. Since we got home, I started tracking down some of the websites our Cuban colleagues had mentioned, like this Cuban educational portal. We are hoping some of the answers lie in the resources we find, more so than the people we already met. But we still have a ton of work ahead of us.

Some of our objectives include updating the AACRAO EDGE profile for Cuba, presenting and educating on Cuban education, and preparing a comprehensive publication on the system. We are already starting to see output. Many of us, myself included, were interviewed for a recent article about the trip. And several of us had an educational session on the research project and Cuba in general during the AACRAO annual conference last month in Orlando. So that was our first chance to present on the topic. We are looking forward to doing more at the TAICEP meeting this fall. We are also hoping to include some of our initial thoughts and findings in an upcoming edition of the TAICEP Talk newsletter. We haven’t even been back for two months yet, and many of us had to travel between now and then. So we are just getting started. Everyone is going to get tired of hearing about Cuba. Or perhaps our enthusiasm spreads and everyone wants to deal with Cuban students and their documents! I do hope that ECE and TAICEP can play an important role in all these AACRAO projects. I think that ECE document samples, in particular, will really help provide a contextual understanding of the Cuban education system for any new resources we produce.

Full confession, I was not part of the Cuba assignment before I was selected for this research project. At ECE we are given a great deal of freedom in our country assignment choices. Since I work remotely, Cuba was not a good choice for me. We have had some issues with fake CJI and MINREX seals, and it really helps if you are in the office in person to review the physical documents. So I had only done a handful of Cuba evaluations over the years. Now, please understand that I do a lot of training with Latin American credentials and am one of the regional experts. I have a good grasp of the Spanish language. But it was an embarrassing little secret, especially compared to some of the group members from Florida who deal with Cuban students all of the time. Once I got back from Cuba, I committed to the assignment. Sometimes my co-workers have to review my documents for me. But I am able to ask questions and add pieces of information I gathered on the trip to our collective knowledge. I’m starting at home with ECE practices and resources, but I hope that seeing credentials and asking myself evaluation questions will help with the writing yet to come.

Street scene in Havana.

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Martha Van Devender  is a Senior Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2005. She specializes in education from Anglophone Africa and Latin America. She is also interested in online research and verification tools.



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