Baruch launches Cuban Arts and Cultures Program
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 13:02
The City University of New York (CUNY) along with Baruch College recently spearheaded an effort in order to allow students to participate in a study abroad program in Cuba.
Dr. Richard Mitten, the director of Baruch's study abroad program, Katrin Hansing, a professor of Black and Hispanic Studies at Baruch, who, as an anthropologist, has studied Cuba for more than 15 years, and Dean and Vice Provost for Global Strategies Jeffrey Peck made this program possible.
From this program, students were able to gain three credits and also knowledge about Cuba's lifestyle and culture.
"I think Americans in particular are fascinated by Cuba because it is the only country in the world they are legally not allowed to travel to," said Hansing in an article on Baruch College's website.
However, the U.S. government recently lifted these restrictions, and now students enrolled in a formal course will be able to travel to Cuba.
A senior at Baruch, Maisha Hall, who participated in the study abroad program said, "The program provided for us a unique and intense immersion into Cuban culture. Everyday we attended a topical lecture, which was then complemented by a cultural activity that included everything from visits to houses of worship to observing youth culture through nightlife."
In order to facilitate the best experience possible, they were given the opportunity to live with Cuban families in private homes.
Hall added that, since our account of Cuban history is virtually one-sided, the trip was a great way to actually experience the lifestyle in Cuba.
"We developed strong bonds with the Cuban students at the Ludwig Foundation – a vibrant group of educated and ambitious people who both humbled and humanized our experience," said Hall. "I think we all faced an altered sense of reality while there."
Hansing was very pleased with the outcome of the trip even though it was the first time that they were testing out this new program.
"Personally, I have to say that it was truly a joy to see the students explore and learn about this very different culture and reality and watch them develop and grow as human beings," said Hansing. "This was a pilot program and so much could have gone wrong…but no, it was a real success on all levels: academic, social, cultural and human."
Hall was very pleased with her experience and maintains that it taught her a lot.
"It gave us an opportunity to become acquainted with a country that has such a complex history with the United States and has put issues like race, poverty, immigration and politics at the forefront of our experiences," she said.
Hansing hopes that this program will continue on in the future so more students will be able to participate in it.
"This is why studying abroad is so important; it not only helps students broaden their horizons and sharpen their critical thinking skills but also opens their hearts to new peoples and places," she said.
Hall is grateful to have been a part of this program, which changed her perspective on Cuba.
"This program caused me to think critically about my role and duties as an American citizen and as a human being."
Dr. Mitten did not respond in time for the publication of this article.