Category: Student Blogs

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Edward Woodall

I am Edward Woodall and my goals for my time in Cuba are as follows:

  • I want to become conversant in Spanish
  • I want to research and learn more about Cuba’s history and how Cubans feel about it
  • I want to gain a greater ability to live independently
  • I want to learn more about life in Cuba under the blockade
  • I want to gain a greater understanding of US-Cuba relations

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Eric Dixon

  •  Gain a better understanding of Cuba’s Non-state sector and the government’s plans for this segment of the country’s economy.
  • Learn more about the structure of Cuba’s trade agreements specifically the method of financing and shipping arrangements.
  • Learn more about Cuba’s economic relationship with the U.S. as compared to other countries that actively trade with the Cuban government.
  • Learn as much of the language as possible.  My personal goal is to learn 2 phrases and 5 new words daily.
  • Find someway to help a local business owner improve their current business model i.e. – improved operations or a shift in management style.

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Larilyn Miles

  • Right now, I understand Spanish well, but my response rate is not as quick as I would like it to be. My first and biggest goal right now is to be able to respond in Spanish quickly with the right vocabulary and appropriate tense.
  • I would definitely like to bond with locals not only to leave a good impression of Americans to Cubans, but also to know I have friends and close relationships with people all over the world.
  • I hope to be introduced to good Cuban recipes of all kinds including meals and desserts that I can take to America and introduce to my friends and family. I am not the best cook at the moment, so learning to buy groceries and cook my own meals in order to save money will definitely be a learning experience that I am looking forward to.
  • I want to learn more about the people who have had the most influence on Cuban music and entertainment culture. I also want to learn how it has changed over time and how it affects today’s culture.
  • I also want to be comfortable enough to initiate conversations with people as opposed to only speaking when I feel like I have to. Hopefully, I will be so confident that I will be able to comfortably help native Spanish speakers at my job without any hesitation as well as participating in community service back home.

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Lauren Nolan

  • I would like to have a conversation where I use all the verb forms.
  • I want to learn to cook a Cuban meal and be able to give the recipe and directions in Spanish.
  • I want to barter with a taxi driver to get the lowest price possible.
  • I want to be able to attend a Cuban baseball game with our Cuban classmates and converse about the game in Spanish.
  • I hope that I can go to a peluqueria (hair stylist) and accurately describe in Spanish how I want my hair cut.

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Elizabeth Heeter

  • I want to fill my notebook with new words and create my own personal dictionary
  • To be able to translate between Cubans and English speakers
  • Befriend a Cuban classmate that I can carry on a friendship with after I get back to the States
  • To be confident in my knowledge of Cuban history so that I can discuss it with a native
  • To increase my knowledge of Miguel de Cervantes’ influence on Cuba

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Caroline Olszewski

  • I really hope to make great Cuban friends that I can keep in contact with even after I leave in May and perhaps one day visit again when the travel ban is lifted for Americans.
  • I really want to master the Spanish language and understand the Cuban accents.
  • I want to learn how to cook a Cuban meal and have dinner with a Cuban family.
  • I want to discover as much of Havana as I can so that I am able to give someone directions of the city in Spanish.
  • I hope to be become confident enough in my Spanish that I can approach a Cuban and strike up a conversation. I want to learn the life stories of as many Cubans as I can.

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Libby Larson

  • Get to know as many Cubans as possible on a personal level (learn about their families, jobs, etc.)
  • Be able to understand the fast accent and songs in Spanish that right now seem to be in an entirely different language
  • To make a good impression on all of the Cubans and represent Americans to the best of my ability
  • To feel completely comfortable with living here/get rid of the apprehension and embrace my curiosity and leave my comfort zone.
  • To simply take advantage of every single opportunity that I can.

5 Goals for Cuba 2013 – Amy Walther

  • I really believe that God has a plan for me and knew Cuba would be the perfect place for him to use me.  So ultimately although it may sound silly I want to be this leader and woman of God and allow him to use me as he wants me to be.  Maybe influence somebody here whether they are Cuban or American for the better and spread God’s word.
  • I really want to find the good in everyone.  So this trip even if we all get annoyed with each other I want to keep positive and find the good in everyone!
  • I hope to improve on my Spanish skills.
  • I want to know everyone’s story! I want to be so confident in my Spanish that I could walk up to anyone and talk for hours.
  • I want to make each moment count. I don’t want to overthink or get irritated at anything I just want to make each day the best it could be and make the most of my trip.

El Arte Cubano

This semester I want to focus on contemporary art in Cuba. I would like to learn about different artists working in an assortment of mediums such as: painting, pottery, printmaking etc. I do not want to limit myself to just one form of art. I hope to meet and get to know local artists and formularize myself with their work. I would like to interview them over the course of these few months and find out a number of things. Questions I would ask would be: what inspires you, when did you start, what is your favorite medium, what is your message if any etc. Due to the limited resources and restrictions in Cuba I would like to learn where artists find supplies, and if they try to market their work outside of the country. With each artist working in different fields my questions for the individual would vary. I have already made a few contacts in the pottery and sculpture world and a couple others in painting and printmaking. In April there is a large biannual art exhibition held at various sites all over Havana. I am excited to use that opportunity to further my research and meet a number of artists from all over Cuba.

Semester Project

For my semester project in Cuba I will be studying and researching Small Private Businesses in Havana, Cuba. Private businesses are relatively new in the Republic of Cuba because for many years all legitimate businesses in Cuba from hotels to restaurants to hot dog stands were owned and run by the state. The ability to legally own and run a private business has only just recently been allowed and I hope to see how people are transitioning and profiting from the business practices being reintroduced into the Cuban economy.

For decades the people have been relying on the state to provide jobs and now that they have the opportunity to start their own businesses and create their own jobs I am curious to see what sort of mercantile spirit the people of Cuba have. So far I have been impressed with the number of private businesses I’ve seen, but I want to learn more about the difficulties and successes of running and working for a private business. I will be speaking with local employees of both state run and private businesses to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of private business in Cuba as well as speaking with local citizens, professors and any government officials I can get in touch with.