With the warming of relations between the United States and Cuba, the expectation is that an increasing number of BSU students will be partaking of study tours to the island nation.
Professor Emerita Sandra Faiman-Silva was ahead of the curve: She first led a study tour to Cuba in 2005. The retired anthropology professor resumed the practice this winter, leading another group of students – her third overall – to Havana and beyond.
“The trip was exceptional for its academic content and exposure to every-day life in Cuba,” she said.
During the trip students had the opportunity to hear talks on race issues in Cuba from a University of Havana scholar, Professor Esteban Morales Dominguez; and from another professor they learned about Havana’s architectural preservation efforts (Old Havana and its Fortifications have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982). The students participated in homesteads in Havana and Trinidad, as well as visits to the Alamar organic agricultural cooperative, a Federation of Cuban Women site, Havana’s Literacy Museum, and the Benny More Museum in Lajas.
Dr. Faiman-Silva said the students were impressed with the energy, spirit, and wisdom of Cubans committed to a socialist society in which everyone receives full health care, public education (through college), access to housing and jobs, food subsidies, and even one year of paid maternity leave. As they learned about the history of Cuba’s transition from extreme inequality to a socialist model of society, students investigated how Cuba has addressed racial inequalities, gender-based challenges, and the so-called Special Period following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“What they found was a nation very proud of its accomplishments in spite of the many challenges, and eager to continue its efforts to promote economic, social and personal well-being for all of its citizens,” Dr. Faiman-Silva said. (Story by John Winters, G’11, University News & Media)