Visit Cuba (2019 - 2020)

Year of Cuba logo 2019 - 2020
Through Kennesaw State University’s Year of Cuba (YoC), students had the opportunity to visit Cuba, experience its diverse cultural influences, and learn first-hand about what makes the country and its people unique. Examining themes related to the economy, tourism, historic preservation, journalism, human rights, community development, sustainability, Santeria, cinema, ballet, and many other topics, the program brought an awareness of and appreciation for Cuba directly to the campus community through numerous events and special coursework. As part of this effort, students enrolled in a senior level Graphic Arts course designed our YoC logo (pictured right) that represents Cuba’s national pride. The design incorporates Cuba’s national bird, the Cuban Trogon, whose colors match the Cuban flag: red, white, and blue, and builds on this concept by including another element of the flag, the single star.

CIFAL Atlanta logo
In partnership with CIFAL Atlanta, an United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) center, our focus was to bring people together to discuss & experience distinct features of the country's society and culture. These key aspects are needed to develop a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world desired by all through the understanding of the many similarities and differences of each nation. Throughout the academic year, Year of Cuba programs brought people together to discuss and experience distinct features of the country’s society and culture, including popular aspects such as music and dance. In this regard, we hosted a performance by Brenda Navarrete in conjunction with our conference focused on the theme of “Transformation and Continuity in Cuba.” We are sincerely grateful that students, faculty, staff and the local community took full advantage of the many opportunities provided to learn about and appreciate Cuba’s richness and complexity.

view 2020 event schedule Year of home

College Spotlights

Year of Cuba Projects

  • This spotlight showcased an exhibition of prints created by students participating in KSU’s 2018 Study Abroad Program to Cuba. The exhibit represented the products of a collaboration between art history and print-making classes to workshop a series of Cuban Superhero characters. The Superheroes were based on Santeria orisha. Up to 80% of Cubans are followers of Santeria. Some 400 Santeria orisha, or deities, of which 20 are most popular, serve as guides and protectors to devotees, aligning them with the concept of superhero. Participating students researched an orisha and generated a visual vocabulary through which to represent that orisha as superhero. The visual vocabulary was based on interpretation of Cuban art history. Students also selected a significant Cuban artist and brought that artist’s iconography and style into dialogue with the personality, powers and story of an orisha. They created an environment or context for their orisha, based on student reflection of spaces and places encountered in Havana during fieldtrips. This program also included a lecture delivered as part of the Year of Cuba series in which the participating professors discussed the goals, successes and challenges of the project. This project fostered interdisciplinary undergraduate research and reflective practices in which studio, art history, folklore, architecture, history and religion intersect. It fostered collaboration and professional practices by students in the production of artwork, didactic texts and an exhibition design. And it fostered rigorous reflective practices during a study abroad experience with the goal of disseminating artistic and educational materials to local and national audiences. Exhibitions were held in the Fine Arts Gallery, Wilson Building, on the Kennesaw Campus in late fall 2019, on the Marietta Campus in spring 2020, and at Blackwell Elementary School in spring 2020.
  • Featuring a week-long campus residency in mid-October by renowned Cuban Journalists, Elaine Díaz Rodríguez (Director of online magazine Periodismo de Barrio), and José Jasán Nieves Cárdenas (General Coordinator of elTOQUE), the focus of this spotlight was to help students become critical news consumers and producers able to participate responsibly as engaged global citizens. KSU students engaged in conversations with journalists and media specialists about the nature of information production and consumption, and refined strategies for seeking, evaluating and creating information in a variety of new online platforms and outlets. The Cuban journalists and our students interacted and discussed new literacies brought about by digital technologies: information, media, visual, and news. The Cuban journalists collaborated with the KSU Student Media, including The Sentinel, The Peak, and Owl Radio. They collaboratively hosted a panel discussion open to all audiences to discuss freedom of the press and traditional versus alternative journalism, and also offered students the opportunity to hear about different journeys into journalism and civic action. This panel was streamed live and archived, and moderated by members of the KSU Society for Professional Journalists. These interactions resulted in a creative collaborative article between The Peak, KSU’s student lifestyle magazine, elTOQUE and Periodismo de Barrio. In addition, Owl Radio presented a live program featuring the Cuban journalists, to discuss new Cuban journalism.
  • Focused on helping our students better understand the Cuban Economy, this spotlight featured a total of four separate events to take place during the 2019-2020 academic year, two in the fall semester and two in the spring. In the fall, Dr. Archibald Ritter (Carleton University), an expert on development economics who specializes on Cuba, gave a guest lecture. Later in the semester, this was followed by a screening of the film: The Singular Story of Unlucky Juan. In the spring semester, the series was continued with guest lectures by Dr. William Trumbull (The Citadel) and Dr. Robert Lawson (Southern Methodist University). The series of events collectively focused on the economic history and development of Cuba, with an emphasis on the past 60 years. Following the Cuban Revolution, an economic system emerged which was the first in the Americas based on Marxist-Leninist principles and central planning. The revolutionaries gained popular support by promising to end corruption, create a socially just society, and deliver prosperity to the masses. In an attempt to achieve these goals, they established an economy modeled after the Soviet Union. Today, Cuba is one of the last communist economies globally (even after implementing recent economic reforms, Cuba still ranks near the bottom of all countries in terms of “economic freedom”). The proposed events provided important insights related to the history and evolution of the Cuban economy throughout this period, up to the present day. These events, while of primary interest to business students, served as a critical part of a broader interdisciplinary educational platform. They helped to increase awareness, interest, and understanding of Cuba and its place in the modern world. Participants became informed about both the history of and recent reforms within the Cuban economy as it attempts to become a part of the global economy in the future.
  • Held in conjunction with “Pi” day and Geek Week activities in March of 2020 on the Marietta campus, this spotlight was inspired by Cuban artist, Jose′ Fuster, to reflect the connection between the mathematical constant of pi and his unique artistic talent. Students working in diverse project teams used engineering design concepts to transform broken tile pieces as they learned about how Fuster through art was able to rebuild his hometown of Jaimanitas on the outskirts of Havana. Students enrolled in Introduction to Civil Engineering (CE 1000) and 2-D Design and Color Theory (ART 1100), KWIM or SWE club members, and other interested KSU students created 12x12 inch tile compositions that were then assembled in a 100 square foot mosaic and displayed within the Johnson Library. The project expanded participants’ cultural knowledge of Cuba and connections between engineering, mathematics, and art. Much like Fuster, students drew from inspiration to create pieces of art that connected to their lived and educational experiences as they learned from Fuster’s example of using personal talents to rebuild and revitalize communities, at home and abroad. This experience also enriched students’ interest in and understanding of Cuba.
  • In the Spring of 2020 the Department of Dance hosted Eriberto Jimenez, the artistic director of Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami for a week-long artistic residency. While in residence, Mr. Jimenez guest taught several courses including Ballet Technique, Dance Pedagogy, Dance History and Dance in Society. These sessions introduced and exposed KSU Dance students to Cuban ballet’s unique style of training by working directly with an expert on the technique. Additionally, Mr. Jimenez gave a lecture on the role of ballet in Cuba. Publicized and open to the entire campus community, this lecture and discussion helped participants to gain an understanding of the history of ballet in Cuba and its role in the history of dance. Revered by many, the methods of training Cuban ballet dancers has remained a mystery. This program provided students the opportunity to expand their technical training and deepen their understanding of dance history. Working with Mr. Jimenez allowed students to connect their own training to that of dancers around the world and see themselves as global artists and citizens.
  • This spotlight featured a series of two dynamic programs, “Chico y Rita: A Night with Limara Meneses” and “Teatro Avante: Two Cubas on the Stage” emphasizing interdisciplinary approaches to explore theater and cinematic arts in Cuba. Directly engaging students from classes such as LALS 3770/FILM 3220: Latin American Cinema, TPS 1107: Theatre in Society, and HIST 3358: Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean, these spring semester events highlighted the diverse cultures that influence artistry and creative trends in Cuban performing arts. A key theme of this collaboration was to examine the cultural creativity and innovation that emerges from a sociopolitical context of deprivation and political marginalization. First, there was a campus-wide screening of the Academy Award nominated film Chico y Rita followed by in-depth discussion with the co-star Limara Meneses. Meneses talked about playing Rita in the film, her role as an actress in other films, the complexity of Afro-Cuban identity and other issues related to the Cuban Diaspora. The second program was a theatrical performance of En Ningún Lugar del Mundo (Nowhere in the World) and a talkback by Teatro Avante. The play focused on the relationships between Cubans in Miami and Havana. Students watched the play, sampled Afro-Cuban/Caribbean food, and participated in a roundtable discussion with the founder of the group (Mario Nesto Sanchez) and the five member cast. Importantly, this program explored issues of race, gender, and Cuba’s contemporary connections throughout the African Diaspora. We explored the global discourses flowing through Cuba and Cuban performing arts, tracing the impact and resurgence of Russian influences like Konstantin Stanislavski, Anton Chekhov, and others. Students explored how contemporary trends of globalization in poetry, music, film, and television have shaped Cuban history and life. As a result, participants were be able to identify contributions Cuba has made to film, theatre, global music, and the evolution of jazz; better understand the complexity of Cuban identity in Cuba and throughout the diaspora; discuss intersections of race, class, gender in Cuban history; and explored the intersection of African American and Afro-Cuban histories to better appreciate the global varieties of black identity during Black History month. 

Faculty Learning Community

Year of Cuba Faculty Learning Community Participants.

  • Professor of Education, Interdisciplinary Studies

    Phone: (470) 578-6732

    Location: TP 2813

  • Associate Professor of History

    Phone: (470) 578-2295

    Location: SO 4130

  • Senior Lecturer of Economics & Finance

    Phone: (470) 578-2275

    Location: BB 355

  • Associate Professor of Sociology

    Phone: (470) 578-2275 

    Location: SO 4071

  • Associate Professor of English

    Phone: (470) 578-2419

    Location: SO 2014

  • Associate Professor of Anthropology

    Phone: (470) 578-2639

    Location: SO 4095