Students Visit Cuba at a Time of Significant Social Change
“The nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba—relentless continuity despite dramatic changes in the world around them and the predominance in both countries of domestic interests and domestic politics—teaches a great deal about the design and execution of foreign policy,” says Dr. Jan Knippers Black, professor of international development, security and human rights.
Black took a group of 28 students from different MIIS degree programs to Cuba over spring break as part of a course titled “Cuba: Changing Course for Changing Times.” Travel to the country is still restricted for citizens of the United States, but this trip was organized under a special license for academic travel. This was a wonderful opportunity for students to travel to Cuba and experience life there at a time of significant social change. The group had meetings with representatives from government agencies and various social organizations. “I am grateful that I had the opportunity to challenge some of my own perceptions and expand my understanding of how other ways of life, other governments, and other values can play out,” says Kristy Dinsmoor (MAIPS ’13) of the trip.
The students also explored the vibrant cultural traditions in Cuba, with visits to a prominent local artist’s studio, a museum dedicated to Afro-Cuban religions, and a youth arts collective. Erich Pacheco (MAIEP ’13) notes: “Cuba is on the cusp of major changes. Cubans are now allowed to buy and sell their homes, can own private businesses and even travel outside the country. As the economy opens up, and support for lifting the blockade increases, Cuban society will confront challenges it has yet to grapple with since the beginning of the revolution in 1959.”
Photos courtesy of MIIS students Nick Thomas and Iris Nolasco.