Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Havana Musicians in the Twin Cities

For friends of CGE who are in the Twin Cities ares, this may be of interest to you...

VocalEssense Presents:  An Evening in Havana with Schola Cantorum Coralina, Alina Orraca, conductor

They’ve traveled the world with annual tours to Canada, South America and Europe, but have never come to the United States — until now. Be the first to welcome these extraordinary musicians from Havana, Cuba!

Like no choir you’ve ever seen or heard before, Schola Cantorum Coralina conveys its intensity and excitement in sizzling performances of both classical and Latin-infused choral music. Described as “awe inspiring,” “phenomenally entertaining” and “deeply authentic,” this ensemble will leave you breathless with their dynamic range and direct connection to the audience. A rare opportunity to be submersed in the sensual sound of Cuba!

For more information, check: http://www.vocalessence.org/havana

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Poetic Reflection: Cuba – the island where la lucha never ends

Lynsey Sharp is a Butler University student who participated in the May 15-25 travel seminar to Cuba entitled, "Sustainability and the Cuban Revolution."  She shared the below poem with us upon her return to the U.S. 

¡Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

In Havana Santeria priests dance on rooftops,
While farmers wait to exchange vegetables for coins in el Mercado.
Santa Clara boasts “El Mejunje,”
A place to dance, drink, converse,
Or engage in other forms of bonding –
Which may or may not result
In a bruised lip in the morning.
A difficult reality lies in “La Marina,” barrio of Matanzas,
But once understood, unaccustomed eyes will not soon forget
As the choir songs still ring in certain ears
And altars to spirits are the only lavish entities of one’s home,
A spiritual experience unfolds, that is undoubtedly human.
Meanwhile in the lazy waters of Varadero
One could float away
Watching the fish swim beneath one’s feet
And ornaments of starfish decorate the sea floor.
But Cuba, you are much more than this
You are the people of past, present, and tomorrow
You are our dearest friends we’ve met:
Chino – “El Rey” of the road
Who guides us to our destinations safe and sound
And enriches our experience with his knowledge and joy.
Oye Oye Carmen – you are everything
Funny, caring, world-renown singer
A guerrillera against homework
Our Cuban mother.
Betsy – translator extraordinaire, talented dancer
You show us that los jovenes de Cuba, like many youth around the world
Are dedicated to and passionate about their country’s sustainability,
Revolution, and fellow humans’ wellbeing.
Susan – coordinator, keeper of time
Which is difficult to do in Latin America
And also model of kindness, proponent of revolutionary change.
Cuba – the island where la lucha never ends
Because the people know
That to achieve a more beautiful, sustainable life
Should be a goal we never stop fighting for.
¡Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Friday, March 23, 2012

American University Alternative Spring Break in Cuba

This travel seminar took place March 10-17 in Cuba.  The theme was Education and Social Justice. 
J. Crew.  Mango.  Filibuster.  Roadie.   Sassy.  Girl with a magnet tattoo. 
What do these things have to do with Cuba?  Everything.  They are nicknames a CGE group from American University bestowed upon themselves while spending a week in Havana. I share these seemingly inconsequential monikers to demonstrate not only the uniqueness of the individuals, but also to communicate the special group dynamics that make an international seminar like this an exceedingly significant experience. 
Those group dynamics do not just happen.  A group becomes dynamic when people step up to the plate, eager to engage.  A group becomes dynamic when they exhibit confidence blended with sensitivity.  A group becomes dynamic when the questions do not cease and answers from inside are not withheld.  A group becomes dynamic when they grab hold of each moment as one where learning can be had.  And if not learning, then a little bit of fun.  A group becomes dynamic when they offer one another companionship deep enough that it results in terms of endearment.  Dynamic, this group was.
And without these group dynamics, which provided support and encouragement for each individual, Cuba wouldn’t have been Cuba for these students.  During a visit to a school, I watched one student (at the invitation of the Cuban teacher) step to the front of the classroom and engage each child in the room – without a second of hesitation.  At another school, I listened to an American University student eloquently and sensitively explain U.S. attention to the Cuban Five when a Cuban student asked her opinion.  Yet another group member, who plans to teach science in the future, utilized an early morning chat with our translator (the fabulous Edelso Moret, professor at the University of Havana) to get his advice on the development of a classroom activity.  They seized moments to interact with Cubans in a truly Cuban way – through conversation, dance, and song.  I will never forget their joint rendition of “We Are the World” with Cuban high-schoolers.  It was off-key, most of the words were missing, and I would never listen to it again by choice.  But it is a beautiful memory for me. 
Ultimately, as their CGE leader, when I asked them to jump, they said, “how high?”  Not really.  But when I asked them to push, they said “how hard?”  And I said “hard enough to make our bus start up again!”  We had a few bus issues, obviously.  Even in those moments, frustrated by being stuck, they showed flexibility, compassion, understanding, and solidarity with our Cuban hosts. 
On behalf of the American University group, I thank Edelso Moret and Rita Maria Ojeda – our Cuban friends and guides – for their invaluable contributions.  Dynamic, you are.  
By Jesse Haas

Monday, March 5, 2012

CGE's first people-to-people licensed Cuba group is a success!

CGE's first group traveling under a people-to-people license recently returned from Cuba.  It was an intensive week with excellent information-sharing, learning, and fun.  The group was comprised of professors/educators, artists, retirees, corporate and non-profit workers - each bringing different perspectives into the experience.  
Some highlights of the week included: 
  • A visit to the National School for Circus Arts where we participants were able to meet with administrators and students and watch a unique performance
  • Hearing about Cuba-US relations from a professor at the University of Havana's Center for US and Herispheric Studies
  • Traveling to the rural community of Puerto Esperanza and speaking with farmers about their lives pre-revolution and after, as well as how recent economic changes are impacting them
  • Participating in a guided tour of the Museum of the Revolution, which made key historical events come to life,
  • Meeting contemporary artists and seeing a number of animated live music performances.
  • Most participants were also able to engage with Cubans in any informal ways throughout the week to learn about Afro-Cuban culture, business ownership, and daily life. 
 Participants returned home ready to implement ideas that will build upon and share their experiences in Cuba.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Study Abroad in Cuba!

The Center for Global Education at Augsburg College is pleased to announce that we will be launching a semester study abroad program in Havana, Cuba in the Fall of 2012.  The program is entitled History, Culture, and Politics of Cuba.

Building on experience in the country that dates back to 1999 - including more than a dozen seminars between September 2011 and January 2012 - this program will introduce students to decision-making processes, citizenship rights, paternalism, centralism, bureaucracy, the role of mass organizations, collective rights, and the means of community.  Students will also explore social justice as it relates to wealth production, market mechanisms, and socialization.  The program will also delve into race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in the Cuban context.   Earn credit in Sociology, Political Science, History, and Spanish.

Experience this unique island nation and experience a culture few others ever will!

Application deadline for Fall 2012 is April 1, 2012

More information can be found at: http://www.augsburg.edu/global/centralamerica/cuba.html.