Eight LC students will be heading to Cuba over spring break as part of a study abroad program aimed at understanding the politics behind the still limited-access to this island nation. A ninth student is from the Tri-College Consortia Agreement with Sweet Briar College.
The students are enrolled in a course taught by Dr. David Richards, assistant professor of international relations, and Dr. Nichole Sanders, associate professor of history, which focuses on the relationship between the United States and Cuba, especially during the past 50 years under the Castro regime.
“This is a great time to visit Cuba,” Dr. Richards said. “Cuba is very much in transition these days from the old, Soviet style society, to a more globalized one. In a decade, much of what made Cuba unique in the world may be gone. It is also a chance for students to get a firsthand look at a state and a people who have often been viewed in very negative terms in the United States.”
In the last three years, academic travel has been permitted under the Obama administration, but it is still difficult to plan for such a voyage, said Alex Akulli, director of LC’s Center for Global Education. “If you’re not a faculty member or a student getting credit, it is very difficult to go to Cuba directly from the US,” he said. In Cuba, American students will find that their American-bank issued credit cards will not work because of US sanctions against Cuba, he said. Students will also be without their US cell phones.
But students are not worried; they are excited about what they will discover.
“I really wanted to go to Cuba because, who wouldn’t?” said Jessie Wilson, a senior history major from San Antonio, Texas. “It’s really cool historically because it’s kind of frozen in time. Probably the thing I’m most concerned about is their perception of Americans.”
Alex Hill, a freshman communication studies minor from Lawrenceville, N.J., said it’s rare to have this opportunity to go to Cuba. “I’m worried about how you get there and how you leave mostly,” he said.
Brittney Bowes, a graduate student working on her master’s in history, said being from Florida makes her especially interested in Cuba. Brittney said she has never traveled abroad and she really has no idea what to expect. “That’s what’s so exciting about it,” she said.