Tag: Semester Project

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.

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.

“Getting Fit in Cuba”

For my semester project on Cuba, I want to learn about the different ways the Cuban population exercises, and what sort of a diet they have when they are working out. On the main streets near La Montehabana, the hotel we are living in, there are always people running, rollerblading, and stretching at all hours of the day and night. In order to investigate the different exercise methods people use here, I plan on looking into local gyms and the classes they offer, as well as visiting several tracks and stadiums in Havana that are used by the general public to stay in shape and talking to people on the main streets.

I also want to learn what people here think are the most effective ways of working out, aerobic or anaerobic training, and how common it is or is not to lift weights as well as to run. In addition, I want to learn about the regular diet of the Cuban people who exercise, and see how all of these aspects of their physical make up compare to what is done in the United States, and consider the differences in the common diet of both countries. There has been concern recently in Cuba and the United States on the rise of obesity in both nations, and I would like to see what is being done in both countries to stop this trend.

“The Elephant in the Room: Diplomacy in Cuba”

For Americans and Cubans alike, political relations between the United States and Cuba are a curious and often tense issue. As we delve into the history of U.S.-Cuba relations this semester, we can only wonder how the currently tense relationship between the two has affected diplomacy overall in Cuba. With that in mind, Cory and I plan to research diplomatic relations in Cuba with various countries. In order to provide a baseline for comparison, we will begin with the U.S. by researching the diplomatic capabilities and limitations of a country with a less-than-ideal relationship with Cuba. We will then study Cuba’s relationships with other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Venezuela, and France, focusing specifically on how they conduct diplomacy in Cuba. Our driving questions are: how do these nations relate with Cuba differently than with other countries, if at all? Do their respective relationships with the U.S. have an effect on how they operate diplomatically here, and how so?

In our research process, we have already had the opportunity to interview a Deputy Public Affairs Officer from the United States Interests Section here in La Habana, which gave us a better understanding of how the Interests Section functions here and how it differs from an actual embassy. We plan to try to set up appointments with functionaries of other embassies here to find out more about their countries’ diplomatic relationships with Cuba and their day to day operations in Havana. I cannot wait to uncover more on this topic so relevant to Cuban politics.

Tourism & Its Effect on the Cuban People

I have always loved to travel. Everywhere I travel, I always wonder how the locals really feel about tourists, and what it would be like to live in an area people go out of their way to visit. For my semester project, I want to find out all about the tourism industry in Havana and how it affects Cubans who live in the city. I plan on researching the amount of revenue brought in by tourists, a normal day for someone who works in the tourism industry here in Havana, and how tourists affect the daily lives of Cubans. I want to speak to Cubans who deal with tourists on a day to day basis, such as hotel maids, taxi drivers, and other hotel staff as well as normal citizens who just see tourists passing by. I also want to know their opinions about other countries based on the tourists they have met from that country, and how their perceptions about an entire country are formed by just meeting a handful of natives for a few days. I’m really excited to start researching my topic, and to start speaking to Cubans and find out their opinions!