Garfield Scholars had the rare opportunity to travel to Cuba in early March, as they explored the question, “What should U.S. policy be toward Cuba?”
Eighteen students, all part of the Garfield Scholars program, along with James Thompson, assistant professor of political science, and Kathy Luschek, director of the Garfield Institute for Public Leadership, met with local physicians, professors and entrepreneurs and visited historical landmarks during the six-day trip. Students received academic credit for going on the trip.
Prior to the trip, students learned about the relationship between the Cuban government and its people, but while there, Thompson said the students got to see what they learned in the textbook unfold right before their eyes.
“When we met with the local agricultural entrepreneur, he was being visited by a government representative,” Thompson said. “While he was telling us stuff, (the official) was telling him, ‘Be careful of what you say.’ Our students go to see the relationship between the regime and the individuals; we saw that tension playing out right in front of us.”
Following the trip, students wrote a paper about their own thoughts on what U.S. policy should be toward Cuba, after exploring the country and meeting its people.
The Garfield Scholars program is a selective program for Hiram College students who wish to engage in public leadership. Thompson said the trip was a tremendous educational opportunity for them, as it will allow for these future leaders to form their own opinions about public policy toward Cuba because they have experienced it firsthand.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Hiram to start engaging with Cuba now because the island is starting to open up,” Thompson said. “If we engage now, and continue to be engaged, it will provide a tremendous resource base in terms of educational opportunities.”
View a full set of photos from the trip on Flickr. Photos courtesy of Gurneet Raina ’13.
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