Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baseball Tours of Cuba

Click to visit the Cubaball Tours web site!
Basic tour costs are based on double occupancy and cover accommodation (four-star hotels), breakfasts, admission to all games and scheduled events, air-conditioned bus and tour guide:
Cost: $ 2,199 per person (USD) (single supplement $250 US)
NOTE: A non-refundable deposit of $400 is required!
The tour package includes:
  • Five nights at Havana’s historic and four-star Hotel Telegrafo (or equivalent) with breakfasts included
  • Accommodation at three and four star hotels (breakfast included) in cities outside of Havana for three nights, as determined by baseball schedule.
  • Best seats for all National Series games
  • All activities, speakers, meetings and admissions as specified in the final itinerary
  • Expert Cuban, English-speaking tour guide
  • Deluxe air-conditioned bus
  • Transfers from Jose Marti airport (only for clients leaving from Vancouver and Toronto)
Not included:
  • Airfare
  • Meals other than those indicated in itinerary
  • Beverages
  • Gratutities
  • $25 CUC Cuban airport departure tax any activities listed as optional in final itinerary
  • Cuban tourist card (inlcuded in airfare from Canada but purchased separately for departures from other countries (est. $20 USD)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Austin-Lehman Adventures (including referral fee payment to travel agents)

Cuba Tour Designed by Insiders

Austin-Lehman Adventures introduces Intimate Insider Cuba tour

November 23, 2011

Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA) has announced it will host cultural/educational adventures to Cuba beginning in early 2012. The company has received a license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Affairs to promote cross-cultural, people-to-people contact through guided tours in Cuba.

Christopher Baker, the author of six books on Cuba, worked hand-in-hand with ALA to create an itinerary exclusive to the tour operator. Baker will lead many of the set tour departures himself along with other recognized experts in Cuba lifestyle and culture.

“Because most Americans have been prevented from visiting Cuba since the U.S. embargo in the 1960s, we are extremely curious about our neighbor just 90 miles to the south of Key West, Fla.,” said Dan Austin, founder and director of ALA. “Our license will allow us to finally lift the veil and rediscover this destination that’s been off-limits to Americans the past 50 years.”

According to Austin, Cuba is a natural addition to the company’s portfolio.

“Cuba fits well with our core goals of exotic/desirable destinations, easy access from the U.S., lots of activities, a distinct and colorful culture, a friendly and welcoming host population and opportunities to immerse travelers in authentic Cuban life including world-renowned music, cuisine, art and dance,” said Austin.

An example of the kind of itinerary offered by ALA is the company’s 10-day The Real Cuba program. A hallmark of the program is the chance to meet Baker’s friends in Cuba for an up-close-and-personal look at daily life in there.

The tour is priced at $4,998 per person, double occupancy (plus charter air from Miami), and ALA pays a 10 percent commission to travel agents. Maximum group size is 12, with two guides.

The 10-day program begins in Havana with accommodations at Hotel Iberostar Parque Central. Highlights include touring Old Havana, dining with Baker’s Cuban friends, visits to community projects such as colonial mansions turned into rehabilitation centers, maternity clinics and schoolrooms, as well as visits to private homes to see the conditions under which ordinary Cubans live. Participants will also travel to the Flores district to visit Casa-Estudio de Fuster, the studio-home of Jose Fuster, often called the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” The evening features traditional bolero and other musical forms at Gato Tuerto, a nightclub.

The group will also travel to Vinales, where they will visit a private finca (estate) of the late and legendary tobacco farmer, Alejandro Robaina. Visitors will meet Robaina’s son and workers to learn about tobacco growing, cigar production and the daily life of tobacco farmers. The group will have lunch at the estate and then continue to their hotel, Los Jazmines, perched atop a mogote (a dramatic limestone formation) overlooking the Vinales Valley. In the afternoon, clients can explore the colonial village of Vinales and dine at Casa de Don Tomas, a charming historic eatery where troubadours perform traditional Cuban country music.

On the fifth day, the group will travel to Las Terrazas, a post-revolution model rural eco-sustainable community built around a lake. Among the places the group will visit are a women’s artisan cooperative and a colonial-era coffee plantation.

The group transfers to Trinidad on Day 6 and 7. Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most impressive of Cuba’s colonial cities. An optional nighttime tour takes in one our more of the city’s cultural clubs to learn about Afro-Cuban music and dance. The next day the group boards a 1906 steam train to visit the Valle de Los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills), with lunch at Hacienda Iznaga, a former slave plantation where the group learns about the roles of sugar and slavery in Cuba’s history. Returning to Trinidad, they’ll be introduced to a babalawo (high priest) to learn about the santeria religion. Overnights in Trinidad are at the Hotel Iberostar Gran Trinidad.

Before departing, the group returns to Havana via the old colonial city of Sancti Spiritus and the industrial-university city of Santa Clara, where a local historian educates the group about Che Guevara and the battles that he led here. Groups will also have the chance to meet Eduardo Monsejo, director of the Museo de Automoviles (the Car Museum) and members of the Club de Autos Clasicos de Cuba. Together, they journey to the Museo Hemingway in classic prerevolutionary cars. 

Arriving at Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s former home, Ada Rosa, director of the Museo Hemingway, will educate the group about the Cuban perspective on Hemingway, his associations with the isle and the difficulties of restoring and maintaining his former home. The group will then return to Havana stopping at the El Morro Castle and the Fortaleza de la Cabana fortress. The last night includes a farewell dinner at La Casa, one of Havana’s finest paladares (private family restaurants).

On Day 10 the group departs Havana for the return chartered flight back to the USA.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Global Exchange Reality Tours Offer Turn of the Year in Cuba

December 27, 2011 – January 5, 2012
We invite you to participate in a remarkable research delegation to study the Cuban Public Education System and to experience a New Years Celebration in Havana!
December 27, 2011 – January 5, 2012
This research delegation includes an examination of the history of Sustainable Development and Architecture in Havana which is listed as a UNESCO “World Heritage Sites.” We will also study the restoration of Old Havana and visit many historic sites and projects that are being made in the city and surrounding areas. Join us for this exciting and meaningful holiday research delegation, and to experience a New Years Celebration in Havana!
December 27, 2011 – January 5, 2012
For over twenty years, Global Exchange has organized research tours to study Cuba's internationally lauded health care system, which has provided high quality, free universal health care to its 11,000,000 citizens for fifty plus years. Global Exchange invites you to participate in this exciting and meaningful holiday research delegation, and to experience a New Years Celebration in Havana!
December 27, 2011 – January 5, 2012
"From high above, what we need to do is so obvious..." In its 2006 Sustainability Index Report, the World Wildlife Fund, utilizing a combination of the United Nations Human Development Index (a measure of how well a nation is meeting its nutrition, water, health care, and education needs, etc.) and the Ecological Footprint (natural resource use per capita) determined that "there is only one nation in the world that is currently living sustainably – and that nation is CUBA.
December 31, 2011 – January 11, 2012
Experienced trail runner Peter Haney, in conjunction with Global Exchange Reality Tours, invites you to join him for an educational and cultural exchange to Cuba. This unique New Year’s delegation will be comprised of other active adults looking for a special way to learn about Cuba first-hand while also having daily options for exploring the beautiful geography of the island by biking and trail running.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Appalachian State University Organizing Variety of Programs

Appalachian resumes its study abroad programs to Cuba

Cuba_group_t.jpgBOONE—It’s been an on and off again experience, depending on the political winds blowing from the nation’s capital, but Cuba provides a rich educational experience for Appalachian State University students interested in topics ranging from U.S-Cuban relations and cultural history to photography and printmaking.
cuba group.jpgMBA students and faculty from Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business recently visited Cuba as part of a week-long study abroad program. Short-term study abroad programs to Cuba are once again possible following action taken by the Obama Administration. (Photo by Appalachian MBA student James Fey)
Raul Corrales_t2.jpgAppalachian’s Department of History offered the university’s first study abroad program to Cuba in 2001. That trip led to a program for technical photography students that was offered from 2002-04 and gave students the opportunity to meet with Raul Corrales, center, who was the first official photographer for Fidel Castro and known for his photography of the Cuban revolution. Corrales died in 2006. (Photo by Lambert “Pac” McLaurin)
Ministry of the Interior Building_t2.jpgAn image of Che Guevara adorns the Ministry of the Interior building located on Revolution Square in Havana. (Photo by Appalachian MBA student James Fey)
child in barbershop_t2.jpgA young child sits patiently in a barber shop in Havana. (Photo by Appalachian MBA student James Fey)
street scene_t2.jpgA typical street scene taken on Jésus Street in Old Havana. (Photo by Lambert “Pac” McLaurin)
The most recent venture to the communist nation was a week-long program in October offered to MBA students in Appalachian’s Walker College of Business that focused on sustainability and the effects of the U.S. embargo in Cuba. Students attended lectures at the University of Havana and the University of Pinar del Rio.
The short-term study abroad program was possible following action by the Obama Administration in January that reinstated People-to-People Educational Exchanges*. It was the first study-abroad trip offered by the university since 2004 when travel permits for short-term educational programs were cancelled by the Bush Administration.
“It’s a unique opportunity for business students to see a non-capitalist economy and the problems the government encounters trying to run a country that is not driven by profit or focused on efficiency but on a different set of values,” said Dr. Martin Meznar, assistant dean for international programs in the Walker College of Business.
“We prepare business leaders, and leaders should be thinking people who look at the world from a broader perspective,” he said. “I think Cuba is one of the few places left where you can really get away from the U.S. perspective and look at things from a completely different point of view.”
Dr. David Marlett, chair of the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance at Appalachian, was one of several faculty members who traveled to Cuba. “Professionally, the trip offered a chance to learn how a country with little resources and an immense exposure to hurricane damage functions,” he said.
Marlett said that private sector insurance probably won’t become an option in Cuba should the U.S. embargo end and insurance markets open to foreign companies as “most dwellings are in such disrepair they would not be insurable by the private sector.”
Educational opportunities in Cuba first began at Appalachian in 2001 with a Department of History summer study abroad program that focused on U.S., Cuban and Latin American relations. The success of that program and the contacts made with educators at the University of Havana and elsewhere led to a technical photography program offered through the Department of Technology and Environmental Design. It ran in 2002 to 2004.
Appalachian also hosted two Cuban artists for a semester in 2004 from La Fototeca.
With reinstatement of the short-term educational permits, Appalachian photography instructor Lambert “Pac” McLaurin will lead a two-week study abroad program for photography students in late December and early January 2012.  Students will meet and work with prominent Cuban photographers and attend workshops at La Fototeca, Cuba’s national photography archive.
“I think that the experience introduces students to a place that is both unknown and foreboding and also teaches them not to judge people by the place they live or how they dress,” McLaurin said. “Learning to approach people in a strange place, not speaking their language, and getting permission to photograph them can be stressful. It certainly makes the student photographer mature. Cuba and Havana have to be among the most photogenic locations in our hemisphere. I hear from students several years after the trips that they considered it a life-changing experience.”
Student Bradley K. Oxford’s perspective of the Walker College Business’ trip is similar to that of past students who have traveled to the Caribbean country. “The best part of our trip was the warmth and hospitality of the Cuban people.  People from our hotel receptionists, to waiters, to people on the street all asked if we enjoyed Cuba, if we were well fed and if everyone had treated us well.  We experienced the rich history of Havana and the beauty of the Cuban country side.  Every day was an adventure,” the MBA student wrote.
Dr. Renee Scherlen from the Department of Government and Justice Studies also is planning a short-term study abroad program in May 2012 focusing on comparative politics and contemporary Cuba. The program is still recruiting students.
“The relationship with Cuba as it stands is going to change eventually,” Meznar said. “If our students are familiar with Cuba, they will be a step ahead of everybody else when that change starts occurring.”

*  Presumably they were using the general license available for higher education institutions that give credit toward graduation and not a people to people license.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Report from Western Carolina University Faculty Led Trip

- The Reporter - http://thereporter.wcu.edu -
Students in WCU Cuban culture course travel with professor to Cuba for firsthand experience
Posted By Killian On November 8, 2011 @ 5:45 am In Top Stories | Comments Disabled
An eight-day trip to Cuba as part of a Cuban culture course marked not only the first exchange to the communist country from Western Carolina University, but also one of the first nationwide since the Obama administration relaxed student travel restrictions to the island nation earlier this year. So recent was the change in travel restrictions that when the WCU group of seven students and faculty member Lori Oxford arrived in October, they were met with suspicion by someone who did not appear to be familiar with the new protocol.

A group of WCU students in a Cuban culture course traveled to Cuba in October. (Photo courtesy Lori Oxford)
A group of WCU students in a Cuban culture course traveled to Cuba in October. (Photo courtesy Lori Oxford)

“An immigration official held my passport until I was able to answer his extremely detailed questions about what we were really doing there,” said Oxford, who teaches Spanish and the Cuban culture course. “After the very polite interrogation, which was accompanied by suggestions of other places to visit in Havana or activities for the students, I asked why I was being questioned. I was watching my students gathered in one spot, glancing nervously over at me. His answer was that there had been several recent small-scale terrorist attacks committed by Americans in Havana, and that he just needed to make sure that we weren’t a terrorist group. He was laughing as he said this, though, and handed my passport back to me, which led me to believe that he had just spouted what he had been told to say in such situations.”

Relations between the U.S. and the Caribbean nation about 90 miles from the Florida coast have been tense for decades characterized by such events as the 1961 Bay of Pigs, a U.S.-supported attempt to overthrow Cuba’s then-leader Fidel Castro, and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, a Soviet Union-supported build-up in Cuba of nuclear weapons capable of reaching American cities in minutes.  After the past 50 years during which United States citizens have been restricted from spending money in or directly traveling to Cuba, the Obama administration in January introduced a change that created a new way for students to legally travel to Cuba – by doing so in affiliation with a program of study at an accredited institution. The president said the change was intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people and support civil society.

Oxford will share how the experience in Cuba moved and affected the students as part of the keynote address at the 2011-12 induction ceremony for new members of Phi Beta Delta [1] honor society on Monday, Nov. 14. The event, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of A.K. Hinds University Center, is free and open to the public, and honors inductees WCU faculty member Paul Dezendorf and students Kylee Baquero, Jessica Burkley, Jessica Harless, Marcelo Maia and Jacqueline Marshall. Oxford plans to describe how their experience with Cubans was very different from what most in the U.S. might expect. Most are happy living there and don’t want to leave, for instance, she said.

While in Cuba, WCU students spent time with Juan Nicolás Padrón, an acclaimed poet, essayist and editor with a background in literature, history, philosophy and pedagogy, of the cultural institution Casa de las Américas. (Photo courtesy Lori Oxford)
While in Cuba, WCU students spent time with Juan Nicolás Padrón (left), an acclaimed poet, essayist and editor with a background in literature, history, philosophy and pedagogy, of the cultural institution Casa de las Américas. (Photo courtesy Lori Oxford)

“What a lot of Americans don’t realize is that Cubans love Americans for the most part,” said Oxford, who had previously traveled to Cuba to conduct research for her doctoral dissertation. “They are, unlike most people in the U.S., completely able to separate their opinions of the government of a country and the people of a country. Most Cubans feel that the U.S. government is the bully of the Americas, or even the world, but they consider the American people ‘nuestro pueblo hermano,’ which means ‘our brothers.’ I think this is something that the students really were surprised to see, that they were embraced and not resented by all the Cubans with whom they came in contact.”

Alex Venditti, senior from Charlotte majoring in Spanish with a minor in hospitality and tourism, said she was surprised by the jovial spirit she encountered during a walk through an area in which people were living in poverty. “Almost every person we met and saw in Habana did not complain about anything, and they did not have anything, for the most part, besides their family and friends,” said Venditti. “The experience of walking through the street made me appreciate everything I have in my life, especially my friends and family.”

Jessica Jaqua, a junior from Franklin double majoring in English literature and Spanish, said that she was surprised when the six power blackouts that happened while they were there were emerged as opportunities to socialize.  “You would hear people on their porches playing music, and people laughing and talking outside by candlelight,” said Jaqua. “They are very community-oriented, and I envy them for that.”

WCU students stand where Fidel Castro stood to deliver many of his speeches, with the monument to José Martí in the background. (Photo courtesy Lori Oxford)
WCU students stand where Fidel Castro stood to deliver many of his speeches, with the monument to José Martí in the background. (Photo courtesy Lori Oxford)

She also particularly enjoyed the food – the strong, flavorful coffee, the rice and beans, and the ice cream. “Cubans are ice cream fanatics, and I can see why,” she said. “The ice cream was amazing.”

Jaqua enrolled in the Cuban culture course because she had heard stories about her grandmother, who was from Cuba, but never stories from her grandmother herself. “I wanted to see for myself a place none of the rest of my family had seen, and to get to see what Cubans were like – their passion and attitudes toward life,” said Jaqua.

On every day of the trip, the students participated in a walking tour of historical and cultural sites, including el Malecón, the Capitol, the Plaza de la Revolución where Castro used to give his speeches; the Colón Cemetery, where more than 1 million people are buried; and the most famous ice cream shop in all Latin America – Coppelia. The group also explored different neighborhoods and boroughs “to compare how the different classes live in what is supposed to be a ‘class-free’ society,” said Oxford.

Part of the travel coursework was tied to the WCU Poverty Project in that the students witnessed another type of poverty, said Oxford. The average monthly salary in Cuba is $20, and the government maintains control of mass media, including TV, radio and newspapers, and limits Internet access, according to the U.S. Department of State.

“In Cuba, people are housed and fed, but they lack access to so many opportunities and so much information that we are examining this as a brand of poverty,” said Oxford.

Lori Oxford (left) stands with a student from the University of Havana who gave the visiting group from WCU an impromptu tour.
Lori Oxford (left) stands with a student from the University of Havana who gave the visiting group from WCU an impromptu tour.

To travel to places too far to walk, the group took “máquinas de diez pesos,” which are taxis that are primarily U.S. cars from the 1950s, said Oxford. (The government has restricted car buying and selling since then, though new laws are changing that.) “It costs 10 Cuban pesos, which is about 40 cents in U.S. dollars, for each person, no matter how far you go in the city, as long as you stick to a couple of major routes,” said Oxford.
Meanwhile, they met with Juan Nicolás Padrón, an acclaimed poet, essayist and editor with a background in literature, history, philosophy and pedagogy, of the cultural institution Casa de las Américas. “Padrón gave several lectures to the group and met with us for question-and-answer sessions about everything from politics to cultural expectations,” said Oxford.

The group also discussed Cuban films such as the 2002 documentary “Suite Habana” by Fernando Pérez that demonstrates a day in the life of individuals and families in Havana, and students recognized many of the sites shown in the film from their trip.
“Since everything in Cuba closes down on Sundays, we took a bus to a nearby beach – one that is usually frequented by Cubans instead of tourists,” said Oxford. “Even though the water felt warm to us, we had the beach to ourselves since for Cubans the season had already turned too cold for beach-going.”

Claudia Bryant, assistant director of International Programs and Services, said IPS staff are working to sure that other faculty-led courses [2] to Cuba will be feasible in the years ahead.

“We are delighted to be able to add Cuba to our list of possible destinations for our students who are interested in studying abroad,” Bryant said.
In addition to Oxford’s presentation at the event for Phi Beta Delta, a campus organization open to students, staff and faculty who have shared experience in international affairs, her students will present their findings and findings on topics related to Cuban culture at a mini-symposium later this semester. For more information, contact Oxford at 828-227-2769 or lfoxford@wcu.edu [3].

By Teresa Killian Tate

Article printed from The Reporter: http://thereporter.wcu.edu
URL to article: http://thereporter.wcu.edu/2011/11/students-in-wcu-cuban-culture-course-travel-with-professor-to-cuba-for-firsthand-experience/
URLs in this post:
[1] Phi Beta Deltahttp://www.wcu.edu/9486.asp
[2] faculty-led courseshttp://www.wcu.edu/22996.asp
[3] lfoxford@wcu.edu: mailto:lfoxford@wcu.edu

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Geology in Cuba, a trip for students

The 10-day Brevard College Geology in Cuba journey is open 
to students from all US colleges and universities. Students 
register for a 1-credit course entitled Geology 290: The 
Geology of Western Cuba. 

Brevard College in North Carolina, in collaboration with CET 
Academic Programs, will travel to Cuba from March 2-12, 2012. 
This 10-day journey features travel to Havana, Varadero, and 
other locations in the Vinales Valley. Students explore the 
unique Cuban geological landscape with renowned Professor 
of Geology, Dr. Jim Reynolds.  Dr. Reynolds has led numerous 
study excursions all over the world including the Galápagos 
Islands, Iceland, Egypt, Argentina and Chile.

The program costs $3615 which is broken into two parts - 
a) the Brevard College Program Fee of $925 (tuition for the 
1-credit GEOL 290: Geology of Western Cuba course and 
administrative fees) and the CET fee of $2690 (round-trip 
airfare from Miami, FL to Havana, Cuba; double 
accommodation room; ground transportation for all 
program activities; 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 9 dinners; 
required Cuban Medical Insurance; and Cuban visa fees). 
Transportation to/from Miami is not included. Airfare 
to/from Miami can be booked through CET Academic 
Programs' travel partner separately.

Registration for the 1-credit GEOL 290 course is facilitated 
by Dr. Reynolds who will direct students to the appropriate 
form(s) on the Brevard College website, the Registrar's 
Office and the Finance Office.  For more information and to
 enroll in the program, please contact Dr. Jim Reynolds at 

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to clarify the message sent out by CET Academic Programs on November 1 about the 10-day Brevard College Geology in Cuba journey.

The parent company of CET Academic Programs, Academic Travel Abroad (ATA) is licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)/US Treasury as a Travel Services Provider (TSP) and has extensive experience serving US residents who are legally permitted to travel to Cuba in their own right. Here is the link to the Treasury Department's list of TSP: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_tsp.pdf.

Additionally, in order to participate in this program, students from institutions other than Brevard College must register for academic credit for GEOL 290 - Geology in Cuba at Brevard College. According to OFAC rules, this credit must also be accepted by students' home institutions and must count towards their degree.

If you have any additional questions about these restrictions and regulations, please contact Mark Lenhart, Executive Director of CET Academic Programs and Vice President of Academic Travel Abroad.

_________________________________________________ CET Academic Programs ~ Innovators in Study Abroad Since 1982 Jennifer Tidwell, Director of Marketing 1920 N Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036 Phone:   202.349.7350   Fax:   202.342.0317 Email:  jtidwell@academic-travel.com   Web: http://www.cetacademicprograms.com Blog:  http://cetacademicprograms.com/category/blog/ Become a CET facebook fan at http://bit.ly/ctT3Dx