By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

Students meet locals, tour museums during study abroad trip to Havana 

Two TCC classes spent 10 days in Cuba this summer.

Intermediate Spanish II and Photo Digital Imaging were the two courses that, for the first time, spent a portion of the class in Cuba.

“We had regular class for three weeks before leaving,” NE Spanish instructor Humberto Rodriguez said.

During those three weeks, both classes covered the curriculum for the courses, but the instructors were sure to include plenty of information about Cuba to prepare the students, he said.

Rodriguez taught the Intermediate Spanish II class and took nine students to Cuba for the course. They worked on research projects and used the Spanish they’d learned to communicate with the locals to gather information, Rodriguez said.

NE student Jackie Valdovin and her partner chose to research women in Cuba as they were curious about what they were like there, she said.

“With the itinerary Professor Humberto scheduled, we followed those, like the museums and seeing things we needed to learn,” she said. “In those museums, we also learned about women in the revolutionary history. That helped with our research.”

Valdovin and her partner also made friends with many of the locals. One of the people they befriended and interviewed was a woman who owned a business, she said.

“I had heard how friendly Cubans were, but you really don’t get it until you experience it,” she said.

Different than the Spanish class, the 11 students NE photography associate professor Patricia Richards took to Cuba with her Photo Digital Imaging course took photos while they explored different areas of the capital city of Havana, Richards said.

“I wanted them to see as much as possible,” she said, “but also slow down enough to determine visual importance before making the picture.”

For Richards, the greatest thing about the trip was that none of their photos were really planned.

“Everything just happened,” she said. “It was that magical synchronicity of finding treasures and being able to photograph them.”

Having taken other classes to other places all over the world, Richards said taking a class to Cuba was a gift.

“I think it’s pretty phenomenal to have a country that was impenetrable for us for so long,” she said. “The discovery of such a place was mind-boggling.”

Like Richards, Valdovin loved her time in Cuba, she said.

“I’m already planning a return trip because I want to see some of the other historical sites,” he said.

Valdovin said she recommends other students take advantage of the classes that visited Cuba if they’re offered again.