Academic Travel Abroad’s Highlights List of 2012!

Boy, what a year it has been for travel! We close 2012 with our Highlights List of events and trends to remember!

So, here goes!

2Cuba! In 2012 we were proud to work with 54 people-to-people and professional research groups in our role as a licensed Travel Service Provider to Cuba. The 900+ travelers and delegates represented a diverse group of Institutions, including The National Geographic Society, The Smithsonian Institution, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The American Museum of Natural History, The Colorado State Bar Association, The American Psychological Association, The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and others.

mercedesOne-of-a-kind moments for travelers: Smithsonian’s German Cars travelers were treated to “the most tantalizing array of 300SLs, pre-war racing cars and other examples of the greatest Mercedes-Benz cars ever built.” We pride ourselves on these moments of behind-the-scene treats and special access —and they happened this year in places as diverse as Central Asia, southern Italy, the Swiss Alps, and Bentonville, Arkansas.

New FrontiersExploring New Frontiers!  Our team covered the globe in 2012! Senior Program Manager Chris Roper traveled to Namibia in March to ride the The Desert Express, a private train that links some of the world’s grandest national parks. In October, he joined a very short list of Americans who have “gone behind the iron curtain” to North Korea, the most isolated place on earth.  (Yes, he has developed a cultural program there!) In addition, Senior Program Manager Janet Varn “saw the future” on her spring visit to Spaceport America, the New Mexico home of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space travel company. Along the way, she discovered New Mexico’s Space Trail, a route of 52 sites across the state related to space research and exploration.

Downton AbbeyLong Live Britannia! In this celebratory year of the Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics, British literary themes were ever popular! Fans of noted author Elizabeth Chadwick traced  William Marshal, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s greatest knight. Mystery lovers joined discussions and readings with authors Colin Dexter and Simon Brett, and Jane Austen fans depart this week for their Christmas in Winchester and Bath. We will continue all things Britain in 2013 (when we follow in the steps of the Edwardians) in our Downton Abbey tour with the Smithsonian Journeys!  Visit and learn more here:

Milestones, ChinaMilestones: ATA’s Study Abroad Division, CET Academic Programs, celebrated its 30th anniversary in Beijing in June. In 1982, China was a very different place for these intrepid students, but their courage and foresight set in motion what has become CET’s flagship—with eight centers across China. CET truly is the “serious alternative” in study abroad.

New StaffNew Faces: A great group of professionals joined us this year: MaryBeth Mullen as Director of Client Services, Francesca Baruffi as Asia Program Coordinator for CET, Meg Hannan as Tour Communication Specialist, Meredith Akery in her new role as Accountant, Wade Jennings as Graphic Designer, and Cherie Mason as HR Administrative Specialist (not pictured).

None of our successes would be possible without the partners and travelers we serve, and the dedicated tour managers and colleagues we consider part of our ATA family. We are grateful for all of you this holiday season!

ATA Holiday Party

Happy Holidays!
Chase Poffenberger
Executive Vice President


Academic Travel Abroad: Connecting to Cuba – Again!

Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana

Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana

Yesterday’s announcement by the Obama Administration easing travel restrictions to Cuba from the United States for Cuban Americans has sent a ripple throughout the travel community. It is ATA’s hope that educational and cultural travel to Cuba will also soon be restored. Airline companies are suddenly rushing to find small planes and potential carriers to fulfill the undoubtedly large upcoming demand for travel to the Caribbean island nation.

Here are just a few of the reasons why Cuba is a compelling destination for the intellectually curious traveler:

Cuba’s art and music beautifully reflect the Spanish and African influence on the island throughout its history. From native to contemporary art, galleries have become a popular venue for Cubans to display emerging styles.

Below are some recent articles related to Cuban art;

Cuba’s dynamic musical heritage ranges from Latin jazz to salsa to bolero, where dancing is virtually a Cuban pastime. Cuba is also home to a unique Spanish-influenced architecture ranging from the more urban and contemporary Havana to the colonial town of Trinidad, with cobblestone streets and red-tiled roofs. Read more about Cuban architecture here.

Between towns you’ll find the rolling hillsides of the Vinales Valley, the Valley of the Sugar Mills, and the historical tobacco farms for which Cuba has become famous.

Cuba’s history is portrayed throughout its cities and landscapes with Spanish fortresses, several UNESCO World Heritage sites, Ernest Hemingway’s home, 19th-century French settlements and local horticultural treasures like the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens.

As soon as political conditions permit, Academic Travel looks forward to re-entering the educational travel market in Cuba. From 2000-2002, ATA operated successful programs in Cuba for several organizations, including National Geographic Expeditions, The Bayly Art Museum, The Florence-Griswold Museum, The University of Maryland, and Vanderbilt University.

Academic Travel Abroad

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