2011 Participants

Lizzie Beale

I’m a sophomore from Montgomery, Alabama. I’m double majoring in Environmental Science (through New College) and Spanish, with a minor in Blount Undergraduate Initiative.

My goal for the semester is to let go of my own cultural and personal boundaries and become truly immersed in this culture. Of course, I want to learn as much Spanish as possible by conversing with taxi drivers, hotel staff, market vendors, and our professors. I think my biggest challenge will be Cuban/U.S. relations course, so my goal is to stay ahead of the readings and really invest in understanding the two countries’ relationship from a Cuban perspective. I’m eager to start my personal research project, Cuban food safety, begin interviewing farmers, and delve into the island’s relationship with food.

Shelby Calambokidis

My name is Shelby Calambokidis and I am a sophomore at the University of Alabama. I’m majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Spanish and Business Management.

My goals for Cuba are to become fluent in Spanish and learn as much as I can about Cuban culture and history while I am here. Specifically, I want to explore the art of dance here in Havana and research how different types of dance help define their culture. Because this is such a rare opportunity for an American, I want to use it to my advantage and also explore the Cuban perspective of Cuban/U.S. relations. When we leave in May, I want to feel as if Cuba is a part of my culture and who I am because of the impact it had on my life.

Brad Erthal

My name is Brad Erthal. I’m a junior majoring in Spanish and Economics. I am 21, from Denver, Colorado.While in Cuba, I want to improve my ability to speak and understand spoken Spanish, learn about Cuban history, experience a lot of the culture, and make some friends.

Pavia Gooch

I’m Pavia Gooch and I am a senior at the University of Alabama and I am double majoring in Spanish and International Relations. I’ve taken Spanish classes ever since I was in the 9th grade and have loved the language and the culture. Getting the opportunity to study abroad was always a dream and since my first semester of freshman year I had always planned on spending time in a challenging environment. I am incredibly lucky that that place ended up being Cuba.

I have four goals for while I am here. The first one is that I would improve my Spanish enough that I could possibly be mistaken for a native speaker. The second one is that I could build friendships that would last longer than my time here. The third is that I could understand with more clarity why there is such a strong animosity between our two governments. The last goal is that I would contribute to Cuban culture in a manner that would improve the general perceptions of Americans.

Dillon O’Hare

My name is Dillon O’Hare and I am a freshman at the University of Alabama, majoring in International Business and Spanish. I have lived in Alabama all my life, but travel quite often. The opportunity to come to Cuba is something that I could not pass up.

My goals for this trip are to further understand the United States’ relationship with Cuba, experience the culture, strengthen my ability to converse with others in Spanish, and build relationships with both Cubans and the people I am here with.

Boyd Taylor

Boyd Taylor

My name is Boyd Taylor and I am a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in Telecommunications & Film and minoring in Spanish. Studying in Cuba is a rare opportunity that I plan on taking full advantage of by immersing myself in the culture and language of Havana.

My goals for the trip are as follows: to further develop my comprehension of the Spanish language, to learn about our history with Cuba from a Cuban perspective, to fully experience Cuban way of life, and to make a few friends while doing it.