Academic Programs International (API) is pleased to introduce Marist College’s innovative new semester-long study abroad program in collaboration with the University of Havana in Cuba, beginning in September 2012. This new program has been designed with faculty at the University of Havana to provide a focus on Caribbean Studies through coursework in the Facultades de Artes y Letras (Arts and Humanities) and Filosofía e Historia (Social Sciences) as well as the Colegio Universitario San Jerónimo located in historic old Havana. API is pleased to promote this program for Marist College, which is open to both Marist and non-Marist students. Marist is currently accepting applications for the fall 2012 semester. The program will include two courses specifically designed for students on the program, covering the culture, politics, and economics of the Caribbean, as well as a pre-semester intensive advanced Spanish language course. Students will also enroll in regular University of Havana courses from the areas of Latin American, Caribbean and Cuban art; music; Cuban and Caribbean culture literature and history; philosophy; and the cultural and political processes of Cuban society. Coursework will be complemented by educational excursions (included in the program fee) and tentatively include trips to Las Terrazas (eco-village and UNESCO Reserve), Cayo Jutía (tropical island off the northwest coast of Cuba); Soroa (Castle of Clouds); Trinidad (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Santa Clara (Capital of Villa Clara), Cienfuegos (UNESCO World Heritage Site); Oriente (Capital of the Eastern Province), and Baracoa (Cuba's oldest city). Students must have strong Spanish language skills and be ready to take coursework in the Spanish language. Housing in a small hotel setting, with other program students, is guaranteed on the program. Breakfast is also provided as part of the program fee. A Resident Director will be on site in Havana throughout the program to assist students in registering for courses and cultural adjustment. Priority deadline for fall 2012 is February 22 (applications accepted thereafter on a space-available basis). Applicants are encouraged to apply early. More information on academics, logistics, applying for the program, a selection of photographs, etc. is available on our website http://www.apistudyabroad.com/programs/cuba. Best regards, Jeramy Johnson (Mr.) Jeramy Johnson - Vice President of Development Academic Programs International (API) Learning Transformed. Life Transforming. 301 Camp Craft Road, Suite 100 Austin, TX 78746-6501 USA +1.800.844.4124 (Toll Free) +1.512.600.8900 (Phone) +1.512.600/8999 (Fax)
Cuba is infamous. Hearing its name conjures images of cigars, mobsters, dirty dancing and dictatorship. Rich with history and controversy, Cuba has become a forbidden land and the subject of government embargoes and restrictions.
This winter break, 30 University of Richmond students, members of two Sophomore Scholars in Residence (SSIR) programs, traveled to Havana to study Cuban music and dance.
Led by Michael Davison, professor of music and the faculty mentor of the Salsa Meets Jazz SSIR program at Richmond, and Myra Daleng, director of dance and the faculty mentor of the History of Dance SSIR program at Richmond, the students traveled to Cuba to film, photograph and gather information to create short documentaries on the rhythmic Cuban culture.
Sophomore Josh Grice, a member of the Salsa Meets Jazz program, said: “[Cubans] all shared the same mindset, that salsa is in their blood. …I really didn’t understand that until I got into Cuba.”
Music is what Cubans live for, said sophomore Kati Miller, who traveled to Cuba with the group. “And people there,” she said, “if they don’t play an instrument then they sing, and if they don’t sing they dance.”
Cuba is one of the top three superpowers in contemporary music, along with the United States and Brazil, Davison said, and the Cuban people have a strong sense of pride over their music’s influence. Top-scale musicians even get paid more than doctors, he said.
“The people have very little,” Daleng said. “The average salary is $12 a month…so at that point they have music and dance, and it’s just everywhere you go.”
Despite the blossoming culture, Cuba remains a third-world country. “I’ve been all over the world,” Davison said, “[Cuba] is one of the safest places in the world because no Cubans can have guns.”
Davison and Daleng still prepared their students for the reality of the nation’s contentions. Davison’s advice for the men was simple: Stay away from Cuban girls. He warned them they would want their money. He prepared the women by informing them there were often bathrooms that did not have running water, toilet paper or toilet seats.
Despite Cuba’s poverty, Davison said, “I’d never tell a Cuban this, but sometimes even though you have nothing, you have everything.”
Davison and Daleng organized activities for students including trips to Chinatown, night clubs and the National Ballet of Cuba where they saw the Nutcracker. They also took part in dance classes where students were taught the basics of the cha-cha. Having been to Cuba 18 times before, Davison organized a private demonstration of the rumba on the famous Callejón de Hamel, an alley known for its dance performances every Sunday.
“We went to the Tropicana, which is the best night club in the world,” Davison said. “It’s outside. It’s the only club that Castro didn’t shut down, so it’s like 90 minutes, non-stop music, 25-piece live band and probably 500 dancers.”
Miller, who plays the tenor saxophone in the university’s jazz band, said the visit to the Tropicana had been her favorite part of the trip, calling it a “fabled place” she had always wanted to see. “It was so out of a book,” she said, “like all these people were smoking like big, fat cigars and drinking Cuban rum, and everyone was dressed up.”
Grice and Miller both had the opportunity to speak with many Cuban people during the trip, and Grice said he had felt a sense of unity. He said he had not felt an anti-American sentiment. In the past, government restrictions limited the ability for travel to Cuba because of strained relations, but the Obama administration has reopened travel for educational purposes, according to the State Department’s website.
“When you mention you are from the United States, they laugh,” Grice said. “They joke with you and are like ‘Oh you’re our enemy.’ They’re not serious about that. They love Americans.”
Miller agreed that the Cuban people were always approachable and joyful, but said she saw government propaganda, which spoke out against the United States. “There was this huge sign that had a picture of George Bush and called him a terrorist… and called capitalism the detriment of the human species,” she said. Miller said, however, that the people have found a way to live despite the corruption, and it is through music that they find joy.
The students’ documentaries will be shown at 5 p.m. April 11 in the Adams Auditorium.
Contact reporter Maria Ratjik at email@example.com