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Students Headed to Cuba
Students Headed to Cuba

June 20, 2016

As diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba begin to thaw, Susquehanna University students will soon have the opportunity to study abroad in the country that has for many years been off-limits to U.S. citizens.

Cuba is the latest addition to Susquehanna's nationally-recognized Global Opportunities (GO) program, in which all students study away in a culture different from their own. The study trip is scheduled for Jan. 2-18, 2017.

While relations between the U.S. and Cuba have been minimal since about 1960, in late 2014 President Barak Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

"What most students and U.S. citizens know about Cuba and Cuban culture tends to be reduced to the U.S. embargo, the Bay of Pigs, communism, rum, music and cigars," said María L.O. Muñoz, associate professor of history and co-director of the GO Cuba program. "Obviously, the culture and history of Cuba are much richer and nuanced than that."

Susquehanna's two-week GO Cuba program will explore Cuba's complex culture that melds Spanish colonial origins, including the legacy of African slavery, with a century of national development shaped by the social, political, economic and cultural influence of the United States.

Students will spend time in the capital of Havana and in La Picadora. These locations were selected to expose students to the differences between urban and rural regions of Cuba and to enable a discussion of the food-to-table process taking place there.

Students will have the opportunity to work with an old Havana restoration group, an art collective, and to meet researchers at the José Martí Institute and with professors at the University of Havana; they will also attend a baseball game at Estadio Nacional and perform farm labor, among other things.

"This trip is not about 'showing' Cuba and Cubans in a certain way but rather trying to 'see' and learn about the nuances of a country shrouded in mystery for most U.S. residents," Muñoz said.  "It is also important to understand the reasons for why Cuban exiles and some Cuban-Americans oppose the thawing of diplomatic relations with the U.S. as well as modifications to the U.S. trade embargo."

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