Although domestic travel to Cuba just recently became more accessible and widespread, students at Hampshire College have been immersing themselves there for years through a unique program. In fact, November will mark the 15th year of Hampshire College’s Cuba Study Abroad Program.
Since 2000, the Hampshire College program has sent U.S. students to the largest Caribbean island to experience Cuban culture by housing them for a semester with Cuban families. The authentic and creative community encourages personal connection through ties with the Cuban Unions of Artists and Writers. Students are able to take courses and complete independent projects while being tutored by Cuban professionals in their field of interest.
“It’s always been a solidarity project and unique among programs in that our students are paired with Cuban tutors and live with Cuban families, so they see what daily life is like,” says Professor of Sociology Margaret Cerullo, who is deeply involved with the program.
The two-day celebration will start on Thursday, November 5, with a free and open-to-the-public Eqbal Ahmad lecture titled “U.S.—Cuba Relations: Past, Present, and Future.” Guest speakers at the event will host leaders in US-Cuba relations, honoring the teaching, activism, and scholarship of the Hampshire College professor and internationally respected writer, scholar, and political analyst, Eqbal Ahmad.
Two renowned figures that will be speaking include Wayne Smith, head of the Latin America Rights & Cuba Project at the Center for International Policy and Louis A. Perez, Jr., one of the most eminent historians of U.S.-Cuban relations.
On Friday, November 6, the entire day will consist of a colloquium called “Cuba today: What will the United States encounter in Cuba in the 21st century?” celebrating Hampshire’s ties with the island nation. It will also feature tributes to the founder of the Cuba program, Professor of Politics Carollee Bengelsdorf, as well as Professor of Film and Photography Jacqueline Hayden, who has been a key participant. Both are retiring faculty who will be honored at their own individual sessions.
Other celebratory festivities include sessions with Cuban artists, architects, essayists, Hampshire professors, journalists and more, all attributing to the foundation and growth of Hampshire College’s Cuba Study Abroad Program.
Hampshire College prides itself on its demonstrated success for its experiential education and has been emulated nationwide. Its track record of distinguished alumni is respected globally. Their Cuba Program is just one example of their innovative and creative programs that provide their students with a unique and cherish-able education.