Harrison Gill, IEM/MPA ’18

Cuba J-Term Practicum

I had the opportunity to participate in the J-Term Cuba On-Site Perspectives practicum for ten days earlier this month. We had the opportunity to visit a number of sites in Havana, Santiago, and Holguin during our visit. I chose to participate in this opportunity having had a limited understanding of Cuba prior to my visit. As an IEM student, I benefited from the opportunity to see a Cuban primary school and meet with students at ISRI, a government run university for students training to become Cuban diplomats. As a DPP student, I benefited from numerous conversations about the effects of American foreign policy and changes to business practices on Cuban economic development. Throughout the trip we witnessed resilience in numerous ways as Cubans have had to deal with the embargo, natural disasters, and their own domestic economic challenges. Ultimately, visiting Cuba has helped me better understand the role that American policies can have upon other countries and Cuba represents one of the greatest challenging ideologies to US foreign policy that has had significant effects around the developing world. As an international educator, a large part of the impetus for me to go on this program was to have the opportunity to learn more about one of our closest neighbors that we as Americans are not always capable of learning about. I feel that my experience in Cuba provided greater context of how some of our closest neighbors live on a daily basis, something that I might not have had a complete picture of without visiting the country. Ultimately, I hope to use my new knowledge to help people in the US better understand the effects of US policies abroad as well as share more about Cuba as a country and society to help others better understand and overcome misconceptions much like my own prior to my travel to Cuba.

“Harrison in Cojímar, Cuba, the site used for the inspiration of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.”

Click here to see Harrison’s project, “Visualizing Cuba.”

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