Category: Student Blogs

Semester Project – Savannah Senicz

During my time in Havana I plan to investigate the numerous aspects of employment in Cuba. I will conduct research on the entire process of obtaining and keeping a job. I am interested in the selection and placement process, the competitiveness involved, benefits and working conditions within different fields, and the freedom which individuals possess to change career paths. Not only do I wish to investigate the formal processes and rules which govern the workforce, but I also desire to explore deeper questions and sentiments related to the population’s day to day life at work. What type of relationship do employees possess with their bosses? How do they feel about the jobs they have been given after studying to work in another field? Is customer service important to them and/or does their management consistently stress it? Is there an incentive to work towards something higher and better? These questions, along with many more, will help me fully understand the big picture of employment in Cuba and gain an extremely personal insight into the lives of the workers that surround me. I will be careful to interview a variety of people from different backgrounds, ages, experiences, and fields in order to broaden my perspective and limit bias. Once compiled, my project will provide an overview of the Cuban workforce, including the opinions and thoughts of the people who make it up, as well as its general processes and rules.

Semester Project – Jamila Flowers

An important aspect in forming ideologies of a certain group of people is religion. Religion can be the hands that sculpt a society. Cuba being a socialist nation, building its principles on ideas from a somewhat communist philosophy, “shouldn’t” have religions. Most communist-like systems outlaw religion, and deem it unnecessary for a society. Cuba, however, has not outlawed religion and has a flourishing religious population. Some of the religious people in Cuba also have more than one religion and find nothing wrong with that. Since Cuba has a religious population, and other countries in the past who have had similar political ideologies have not, it seems noteworthy. What is its function in society? Exactly how diverse is the population? Of different denominations or of different religious sects all together? How did these religions arrive on the island? Are there any “Cuban” religions? If so how were they created? How important are the religions to sustaining communities? Do these religious groups have ties to groups outside of Cuba? Are there any tensions within or between certain religious groups? Governments position on religion? I plan on researching these questions and going even deeper into the world of religion in Cuba, to ultimately note different levels of diversity across the religious spectrum and its impacts on society.

Semester Project – Alexander Plomaritis

My project will be an in depth detail of monuments of significance in Cuban identity and culture in Havana and surrounding areas. I will discuss and identify for which reasons these monuments are important. Also, I will provide an explanation of where the monuments came from, how they were constructed, and who funded the production of the respective monuments. I will thoroughly evaluate the significance of each monument looking for any sort of controversial aspect or aspects, in order to further inquire as to the views that could be placed upon each individual structure by the citizens. After analyzing the significance and structure of each monument I will inquire as to analyze what different sort of opinions and views the people have over them. I am curious to see if there is a significant divide in views or feelings about these monuments by the people who are of significantly more educated backgrounds and those of the more common people, who have simply not been exposed to as much and are representative of a lower class.

Semester Project – Kourney Davis

This semester in Cuba, one of my main goals is to become familiar with the scene of the Christian faith here. With Catholicism being the largest declared faith among the natives and over fifty different denominations of the protestant faith, my aim is to investigate the role of faith in a socialist nation. Traditionally, the instatement of a command control government does not allow the freedom of religion, but this has changed in Havana and its outlying provinces in the past twenty to thirty years. I would like to interview some of the elders in the churches to see what caused this change and how it has affected attendance, ideas, and the lives of everyday Cuban citizens. I also plan to speak with pastors and priests and question the doctrine of the church to see the differences between here and the United States, as well as to ask about censorship and freedom of speech from the pulpit. Lastly, I plan to explore some of the various aspects of a local religion called “Santeria.” I would like to understand the blend of two very different religions, Catholicism and African native religions, into one of the largest and most accepted faiths in Cuba. I believe that this trip will become a great opportunity for me to see how the church operates and how the people maintain faith in a socialist country.

Semester Project – Ellen Coogan

In my first week in Cuba, I was stopped by a Cuban asking me if I was from the U.K. After a little conversation, I learned he had studied there for five years and wished desperately to return and become a citizen there. This summer I worked with immigrants in a legal nonprofit, so his story struck me. I started to wonder more about the rules dictating emigration from Cuba, and the regulations for extended visits to foreign countries, like studying or working abroad. For my project, I will investigate migration, specifically, from Cuba to other countries, and from province to province within Cuba. I’m interested in what pulls Cubans from one area to another. I have also noticed how many Cubans have family members living in the U.S. and other foreign nations. I wonder how distance affects their relationships. How often can they see each other? Are they allowed to visit each other as often as they can afford? By the end of the project, I hope to better understand migration out of and within Cuba.

Five Academic Goals – Jamila Flowers

  1. Learn and understand Cuban culture
    1. Be able to know cultural dances, religions, foods etc.
    2. Grasp the heart of what it means “to be Cuban” (what the natives consider it to mean)
  2. Enhance my Spanish vocabulary
    1. Be able to understand the Cuban dialect and be able to differentiate it from other dialects
    2. Learn Cuban slang
  3. Speak more fluently (grammatically)
    1. Be able to process full sentences without stopping to process grammar forms
  4. Adjust to a new learning environment
    1. Gain valuable experience for future career
    2. Build connections with professors and natives
  5. Do well in classes
    1. Keep adequate study time
    2. Take notes
    3. Look for opportunities to do better

Five Academic Goals – Ellen Koogan

  1. Expand my Spanish vocabulary.
  2.  Become more confident speaking and writing Spanish.
  3.  Gain more skill in listening to native Spanish speakers.
  4.  Immerse myself in Cuban culture. Come back with a much better understanding of the people and their world.
  5.  Leave a positive impression of myself, my university and my country on everyone I meet.

Five Academic Goals – Savannah Senicz

  1. Talk comfortably in the past tense without having to overthink using the preterite or imperfect tense.
  2.  Learn how to read and understand literature and shorter works without stopping constantly to look up words.
  3.  Improve my accent and pronunciation. I want native speakers to actually be able to understand me when I speak to them. Now, most of the time they can’t understand me when I speak Spanish to them.
  4.  Improve my listening skills and processing speed when I hear the spoken language.
  5. Broaden my vocabulary and NOT forget the new words I learn.

Five Academic Goals – Alexander Plomaritis

  1. To become a more proficient communicator
  2.  To immerse myself within a foreign culture
  3. To comprehend and develop new culture
  4.  To develop a greater knowledge base and understanding of how poor countries operate
  5.  To make new friends and acquaintances at the university

Five Academic Goals – Kourtney Davis

  1. Pass my classes
  2. Make friends (locals) to study engineering with
  3. Study the appropriate number of hours per week (which I’ll figure  out after I get there)
  4.  Not be the typical rude American
  5. Not be shy and practice my Spanish even when it sounds rough