The ease of restrictions for Americans traveling to Cuba has brought rapid cultural and societal changes as tourism expands to the isolated island after more than 50 years of suspended relations with the United States. These changes also bring opportunities for Embry-Riddle undergraduate students to develop a better understanding of the country through Ignite Abroad’s upcoming cultural research trip to Cuba during spring break.
“For Ignite Abroad, we look for countries and cultures that are diverse and offer students a chance to experience something new,” said Wes Lewis, Associate Director of Embry-Riddle’s Office of Undergraduate Research. “With the opening of Cuba for Americans, we decided it was a prime opportunity to see a country in the beginning of a transformation.”
Students who attend the trip March 12-19, 2017 will have the opportunity to conduct their own research while visiting sites such as Ernest Hemingway’s Home in Finca Vigia, Bay of Pigs and the University of Havana. Students will be exposed to Cuban history and culture through guided tours and interactions with Cubans. In the region of Pinar del Rio, students will be able to visit Cuban tobacco farms and learn about the country’s agricultural economy. During a visit to Las Terraza, a small eco-village, students will have the opportunity to learn about the coffee plantations and art communities located in the Enesco Biosphere Reserve. Before leaving, students will develop a research question and methodology for collecting data to be reported on when they return to campus.
“Students will learn qualitative research methods that will be used for conducting cultural research while in country,” Lewis said. “Students will also be expected to write a manuscript of their research with the hope of publication within an academic journal.”
The trip is open to four Worldwide and 10 Daytona Beach students who must apply for the trip through the Office of Global Engagement. Students who are accepted will receive a $1,500 grant to supplement the cost of the trip, which will bring the total cost of the trip to $1,500 for lodging, airfare, transportation, entrance/exit fees and most meals.
The partnership between the Worldwide and the Daytona campuses is an effort to bring more research opportunities and real-world experiences to all students, said Kelly George, Director of Accreditation, Assessment and Research for Ignite. Previous Ignite Abroad trips have taken place in Brazil and Singapore.
“Students have to work with a global perspective,” said George, also an associate professor with the Worldwide Campus. “Anytime we can engage with another culture, students learn how to be aware of differences and appreciate how to navigate in an unfamiliar place with significant language barriers.”
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