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The Cuba Experience

Short Term Faculty-led Study Abroad

Open to all majors, The Cuba Experience offers students an opportunity to learn about Cuba's unique culture, history, music & dance, architecture & art, religion, economy, politics, and international relations.

Email: Dr. Ken SchweitzerAssociate Professor in Music

 

The Cuba Experience offers students the unparalleled opportunity to learn first-hand about Cuba through an academic lens. In collaboration with their professors, students will design and conduct authentic field research into the intersection of music, religion, dance, food, and culture in Havana, the oldest city in the New World. Students will also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites surrounding Trinidad de Cuba (founded in 1514). Located in the foothills of Cuba’s second largest mountain range, and just minutes from turquoise waters of the Caribbean, Trinidad’s cobblestoned streets are teeming with music, colorful art, cafes, and nightlife. We’ll also have an opportunity to explore Cuba’s vast biodiversity and unique agricultural systems in and around the small towns Las Terrazas and Viñales, both located in hilly regions of western Cuba.

Cuba Banner

Program Info

The course is schedule for May 14-24, 2021 (10 nights). Alternate travel dates in August will be offered in the event COVID-19 interferes with travel plans. 

Program Fees

Program cost for the trip is $3,299 and includes:

  • Round trip flight Florida - Havana
  • Tourist Card / Visa *
  • Travel Medical Insurance (including COVID)
  • Emegency Evacuation Insruance
  • One night hotel and group dinner in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale on  May 14
  • 9 nights accomodations in Havana & Trinidad (doubles)
  • Breakfast and dinner (9 days)
  • Lunch (5 days)
  • Bottled water
  • Museum, conert, and gallery fees
  • Tour guide tips
  • Ground transportation in Cuba

Not included in the program cost:

  • $500 OPTIONAL Tuition Fee (for those who want 4-credits)
  • $100-$300 Flights from home to Miami
  • $40-$60 Lunch (5 days)
  • Optional tips for tour guides
  • Optional souvenirs & snacks
  • Optional taxis used during limited “free time.”

*VisasMost US citizens and many foreign nationals can travel to Cuba using a Tourist Card that can be purchased in the airport. This is generally very easy and does not require any paperwork. We will aquire these for most students. However, some foreign nationals and all persons born in Cuba (regardless of citizenship) are required to obtain a Visa. This should be done well in advance and directly with Cuban embassy. We are happy to give advise about visas, but the ultimate responibility and cost for securing visas for students falling these categories fall to the individual.  Please reach out to us with questions and we will do our best to advise. 

  • MaleconIconic Malecón - just steps from our rooms
  • Girls in CarTour of Havana in convertibles
  • TrinidadTrinidad  - Founded in 1514

Deadlines, Deposits, Refunds, and Forms

  • February 15 
    • Signed Application(s)
  • March 1 
    • $500 Deposit. Refundable for any reason until March 20.  After March 20, refunds will only be given if the entire trip is cancelled by the school. Instructions for making the deposit (as well as details about refunds) are in attached to the Contract, which should be signed an emailed to kschweitzer2@washcoll.edu at the moment the deposit is submitted. 
  • April 20 
    • $2799 balance Balance (or $3299 if you want academic credit (4 credits). 
    • Photocopy of Passpport  (valid through 11/26/2021
    • Risk & Liability Waiver
    • Visa Application | CTS Travel Affidavit
    • College Liability Waiver
    • Tour Provider Liability Waiver
    • Tour Provider Travel Affidavit
  • Trinidad HorsesValle de Los Ingenios - Trinidad de Cuba
  • Havana Street SceneCentro Havana near our guest rooms
  • Festival WomenStreet Festival in Havana

Academic Info 

  • Students who register for credit can request either a MUS or ANT designation (ANT is the default). WC students can use the course to satisfy: Business Global Learning Requirement, International Studies Experiential Learning Requirement, Fine Arts Distribution, Social Science Distribution, Music Major/Minor Electives, Anthropology Major/Minor Electives and/or Ethnomusicology Requirements.

  • This is an immersive & experiential course. While in Cuba students will have a full day (and often evening) of structured and unstructured activities including tours, concerts, and dance classes. Though we will have lots of open deicussions, we will not be lecturing to students. Instead, students are expected to learn as much as possible about Cuban history & culture prior to travel.
  • Activites/Work Prior to Departure
    • 2 short  books & response papers

    • 3 video/documentaries & online discussion

    • NPR Popdcasts (listening only)

    • Pre-Travel Listening Quiz (to introduce students 

    • Several pre-travel lectures, discussions, & trainings (virtual and in-person)

  • Graded activites while in Cuba
    • Ethnographic Journaling
    • Observation-oriented writing
    • Class Discussions
  • Activites/Work After Return to the US
    • Multi-media Journal
    • 4 pages post-trip synthesis paper
  • DancingDance Class in Havana (with social distancing)
  • PradoPedestrian walk 4 blocks from our rooms
  • SwmmingEscaping the mid-day heat in Las Terrazas

Covid Questions

  • Travelling in the COVID era comes with special considerations. For the trip to proceed US state department advisory must be at a level 1-3. As of January 1, it is at a level 4. CDC Travel Advisory must also be at a level 1-3. As f January 1, it is at a level 4. 

  • The rate of COVID infection in Cuba is very low compared to the United States. As of January 1, Cuba's population of 11 million is reporting 12,056 infections and 146 deaths. Cuba's public health program (including testing and contact tracing) is very aggresive and effective.  

  • As of January 1, 2020 Cuba requires a negative COVID test prior to arrive in Havana, followed by a second COVID test administaered in the airport.

  • As we get closer to travel, we will be sure to keep abreast of acceptable standards for disinfecting all high use surfaces and maintaining proper social distancing expectations.
 

Itinerary 

Now entering its seventh year, The Cuba Experience has an established history of ensuring a safe, educational, and fun envirnoment for growth and transformation among our students.  While the unknown is sure to generate anxiety among participants and their families, we ask for flexibilty and patience as we rarely finalize the day-to-day itinerary more than just a few weeks prior to departure. This year in particualty, the logistical challenges we face are substantial. The main variables that will detemrine when we can share a detailed itinerary are:

-  COVID-19 and it's affect on museums, concert venues, and transportation.
-  The impact of an incoming US adminstration on US-Cuba policy.
- The availability of featured musicians, artisans, and guides
- Weather forcasts - since many of our activities are outdoors

To give a better idea of what the trip looks like, however,  we provide below an overview of the types of housing, food, activities, and opportunites we typically offer:

Hotels & Homestays

Miami or Ft. Luaderdale, Florida
Students should make their own way to our hotel in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale region on the evening of May 14th. Around 6PM, we will gather in the lobby and head out for a meal in local restaurants (unless COVID requires us to later our plans). Students should plan to land in Florida by 4PM. If necessary, we can accomodate late arrivals. 

Havana
During our 4-6 nights in  Havana, our group stays in professional government-sanctioned guest rooms in the homes of working class Cubans. Each licensed guest room has air conditioning. Guests have access to guest-only restrooms and refrigerator. All of our rooms are located in houses within a 2 block radius of each other. We will be one block from the Malecón (the iconic seawall in Havana) and 6 blocks from the tourist district and old town Havana. We will likely not have access to television, phones, cell phones, or internet – such luxuries are only just now making their way to the average person in Havana.

Trindad de Cuba
We typically spend two-three nights in Trinidad, where we use similar guest rooms as in Havana. A small but vibrant town, Trinidad is very walkable (aside form the rough cobblestone streets that are known to twist ankles). Our homes are a mere 100 yards form the very center of town. 

Viñales
In Viñales, we typically stay in a mountain-top hotel with sweping views of the picturesque valley. As of November 2020, the US department of treasury has prihibited Americans from using any hotel in Cuba. We hope that this regulation will soon be revered. If not, we will adjust and move into private guests rooms just a short walk from the center of this small tourist town. 

Vinales Vinales

Special Courses Examples

  • BIO 404: Immunology
  • BIO 350: Toxicology
  • BIO 409: Biochemistry

Havana Activities

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View Course Catalogue

Special Courses Examples-zz

  • BIO 404: Immunology-zz
  • BIO 350: Toxicology
  • BIO 409: Biochemistry

Trinidad de Cuba Activities

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View Course Catalogue

Special Courses Examples-zz

  • BIO 404: Immunology-zz
  • BIO 350: Toxicology
  • BIO 409: Biochemistry

Viñales & Las Terrazas Activities

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View Course Catalogue

Special Courses Examples-zz

  • BIO 404: Immunology-zz
  • BIO 350: Toxicology
  • BIO 409: Biochemistry