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Faculty, Students Visit Cuba

Street performers dance and play drums in Havana, Cuba.

Street performers dance and play drums in Havana, Cuba.

Three CSULB faculty members and 27 students spent this March’s spring break week in Cuba as part of a collaboration between the Department of Romance/ German/Russian Languages and Literatures’ (RGRLL) Spanish program and the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies (CHLS).

RGRLL’s Bonnie Gasior and Claire Martin joined CHLS’ Victor Rodriguez on a tour of Havana that included visits to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the prestigious Casa Las Americas publishing house, the Centro Memorial to Martin Luther King and the University of Havana for an exchange with students and faculty.

Recent relaxation by the U.S. government of Cuba travel rules enabled students to experience changes taking place in that nation as it opens its economic system, Martin said, adding that the travel went in tandem with rigorous course work.

“For many travel courses, travel is the main goal. There is neither feedback nor follow-up. But for this course, while travel is at the heart, there is instruction before and after,” she said. “This trip offered a real academic experience. Both groups met three times before travel with Victor Rodriguez’ class where politics and the history of Cuba were discussed.”

CSULB faculty and students on the steps of the University of Habana, CubaAbove, “The University of La Habana (UH), Cuba has had a central role in the intellectual and political life of the Cuban nation. Most of its artists, scientists and other professionals were trained by the UH. Also, most social movements against the dictatorships that have plagued Cuba were begun by students from this university. This staircase is a symbol of the university and of the 1959 Cuban revolution since Fidel Castro and Raul Castro (the president today) were formed in this campus,” explained Professor Victor Rodriguez.