Cuban Close-up: Student Perspectives

Cuban highway“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 

--Albert Einstein

Nicky Kumerow and Marsha Moffett were 2 of 13 students to join Professor Amy Orf on a Faculty-Led Study Abroad experience in Cuba in May 2012. The trip was the culmination of a 2-credit course, LG295/SN495 “Discovering Cuba”, completed by the students during the Winter 2012 semester.

"Discovering Cuba" was comprised of 8 class sessions in Spanish and a guest lecture from Dr. Mayra Heydrich of the Universidad de La Habana, during which students learned about and discussed a range of topics related to Cuba. Professor Orf explains that the intent of the FLSA was “for students to gain a better understanding of Cuban history and culture by experiencing them firsthand.”

Below, students Nicky Kumerow and Marsha Moffett share their personal reflections on their experience abroad.

Nicky KumerowNicky K

“…very few Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba, so I knew I should take the opportunity…”

Meet Nicky…

Nicky Kumerow is from Forest Lake, Minnesota. She is majoring in Early Childhood Education and Spanish and plans to graduate in December 2013.

Reflections on Cuba…

I chose to go to Cuba for several reasons: Faculty-Led Study Abroad programs are more convenient than traditional semester study abroad programs; very few Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba, so I knew I should take the opportunity; and I love to travel, especially to Spanish-speaking countries. I thought Professor Orf did a wonderful job of putting together our itinerary so that we got to see some famous museums and attractions, some lesser-known places, and both local and touristy restaurants.

To me, Cuba was a very interesting place because of the mix of cultures, the current U.S. embargo, and the communist government in Cuba - which plays a huge role in the day-to-day lives of Cubans. I'm not sure if there was one highlight of the trip - I really enjoyed many of the activities: meeting the Havana Industriales baseball team, visiting the print shop, spending a day on the beach of Varadero, tasting Cuban food, and hearing from professors at the University of Matanzas speak about the current Cuban economy & situation with the U.S.

Cuban car Havana Industriales

Marsha MoffettMarsha Moffett

“Americans can learn a lot from the Cuban way of life and their bond with nature and, above all, humanity…”

Meet Marsha…

Marsha Moffett grew up in Iron River, Michigan. She will be graduating in May 2013 with a major in Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies.

Reflections on Cuba...

When I got back from Cuba, many people I know asked me questions about my trip, such as: Did you smoke any Cuban cigars and drink Cuban rum? What do you think of the Castros? Is everybody poor there? What do they think of Americans? But honestly, in my opinion, these questions aren't in the last bit relevant to me. Many Americans fail to recognize the accomplishments of one of our closest Caribbean neighbors. It's among the most sustainable countries in the world due to the fact that they refused to accept U.S. imperialist establishments to spoil and suppress their country. They were the only ones to say "no" to America and become the only communist government in the western hemisphere. These people have experienced extremely difficult times because of this and it has made them more adaptable people. Americans can learn a lot from the Cuban way of life and their bond with nature and, above all, humanity and the way we ought to live in these times of global malfunction. Americans focus too much on the individual and property rights rather than social rights. For example, every Cuban is granted health care because in a socialized health care system, every being has the right to receive medical care. Let me repeat: It is an unconditional right to receive medical care. It isn't about money... everyone is on the same level for the most part. It's inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Cuban street Cuban fortress
Cuban wall art Cuban vista

Cuban street

Picture credits: Marsha Moffett