From March 4-11, 2017, Seton Hall will be hosting a study abroad trip to Cuba, an event co-sponsored by the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute.
While there, 22 students will go on tours of museums and historical sites, such as Ernest Hemingway’s country estate, “Finca La Vigia” and Havana Vieja, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.
Students will also participate in on-site discussions with professors Dr. Benjamin Goldfrank and Anthony DePalma, as well as local diplomats and experts, and will be expected to write a research paper at the end of the trip.
Goldfrank, associate professor and department chair of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, said via an email interview that this is not the first time SHU has traveled to Cuba. Students at the Stillman School of Business took a trip there to study business opportunities in the island nation.
Goldfrank said this trip should be of interest to students since Cuba was essentially closed off to U.S. citizens until recently.
“Cuba has been less globalized and less Americanized,” Goldfrank said. “Its economic and political systems are unique in the Western Hemisphere.”
Goldfrank added that he hopes students will gain a global perspective and have the opportunity to interact with people from other cultures.
“I hope students gain an understanding of how and why U.S.-Cuban relations have evolved, especially in recent years, and learn about changes in Cuban politics and economics,” Goldfrank said.
Some students who are going on the trip hope to learn a lot from the experience.
“Cuba has so many particularities that only going there and interacting with the people will help you understand the culture,” said Diana Kraiser Miranda, a second-year graduate student with a master’s degree in diplomacy and international relations. “Having Professor Goldfrank and Professor DePalma as our mentors will be a unique opportunity to learn more about Cuba from different perspectives and backgrounds.”
DePalma, a professor in the College of Communication and the Arts and a writer-in-residence, had his obituary of Fidel Castro, “Fidel Castro, Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied U.S., Dies At 90,” recently published in The New York Times.
Naomi Shuyama, junior diplomacy and international relations major, is also looking forward to the trip.
“I am interested in seeing if there has been significant change in the relationship of the two nations,” Shuyama said. “I am especially excited to meet with university students and faculty from the University of Havana and listen to their personal approaches regarding the impending change of government.”
However, SHU students are not the only ones who are interested in visiting Cuba. After the United States lessened restrictions on U.S. citizens visiting the Communist country, Goldfrank said he believes tourism increased along with public interest.
“People are interested in what has been forbidden to them,” Goldfrank added.
The recent death of former Cuban Prime Minister and President Fidel Castro will not have a long-term effect in Goldfrank’s opinion.
“Raúl Castro [Castro’s younger brother] has been in charge since 2008 and will remain so until 2018,” Goldfrank said. “The change from Fidel to Raúl was probably more consequential, and the change after Raúl steps down is likely to be more significant.”
Goldfrank added, “I think the current spark from the U.S. is about the possibility to visit at a time when many people think Cuba may undergo significant change soon.”
Editors Note: Anthony DePalma is The Setonian’s faculty adviser.
Isabel Soisson can be reached at email@example.com