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Experiencing Caribbean Culture: Howard Students, Professors Make Excursion Trip to Cuba

By Kayla Irby, Contributing Writer
Posted 9:00 AM EST, Thurs., Feb. 23, 2017

Howard Professor Edilberto Galvan organized a trip to Havana, Cuba for his Spanish News Media class in Winter 2016. The trip was organized so students could complete their final project by conducting reports. The staff and students described the experience as being an eye-opener as well as being extremely impactful on their views about Cuba. Alongside Galvan, Cathy Hughes School of Communications’ professors Dr. Frederic Kendrick and Prof. Yanick Rice-Lamb joined the trip.

“What impacted me about this trip was that the students were able to learn to engage with Cubans in their language and had a lot of questions. They were able to engage in a language they were not masters in,” Galvan said.

During the trip, Galvan was impressed by the way Cubans lived their everyday lives despite their economic situation.

“The level of comfort with their own economic situation is what stuck out. They haven’t seen any better,” Galvan said. “They’re very comfortable and humble with how they live.”

Kendrick expressed that the Cubans are incredibly informed about the world and incredibly educated on United States policies and politics.

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“You will get eaten alive in Cuba when it comes to going there with the wrong impression and the wrong thought process. Cubans have a 99 percent plus literacy rate, and there’s only 5 percent internet penetration in the country. So if you’re not looking at the internet, than you’re reading books, newspapers, and magazines, ” Kendrick said.

“They have universal free education, so most of the island goes to school and takes advantage of that. So you have an incredibly large amount of people with master’s degrees and doctorates walking around. So you have this triumphant – if you will – of highly educated people, with no distraction of the internet.”

Lamb spoke about how it was a good experience to witness Cuba with her own eyes.

“I think growing up in the U.S. you hear so many different stories and misperceptions. It was just entirely different than I expected; I kind of didn’t know what to expect and I tried to go in with open eyes. We ran into a lot of African-Americans who were there from different parts of the country too, and they were really excited to see Howard students there,” Lamb said.

“My favorite part of this trip was meeting the people that lived there. They were happy we were there and encouraging us to come back. Also, learning more about the culture and history, and seeing some of the unique qualities of Cuba.” Lamb said.

Monesha Woods, a senior broadcast journalism major from Queens, New York, says she had numerous amazing experiences in Cuba.

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“Just walking around the city and seeing Cubans in their natural element as well as doing things their way was my favorite part of it all. I was able to really immerse myself in their culture and understand them beyond what the media feeds the world about their culture,” Woods said.

“Going to Cuba made me appreciate the fact that I’m a citizen of the U.S. do much more. While there are many things wrong in this country, we are privileged to be able to simple things like access the internet and move freely without having to request government permission,” Woods said.

Woods expressed that with the aesthetically and culturally, rich country of Cuba, she looks forward to coming back in the future.

Woods said, “It was definitely an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

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