Thursday, December 12, 2013

#615 Welcome to Havana

Finally, we arrive in Havana!  

Due to US government restrictions, Semester at Sea has not been able to call on Cuba since 2004. The timing of our visit coincides with the handshake between US President Obama and Cuban President Castro in South Africa and we feel we are a part of something special.

It's the first time Kelly and I have ever participated in an all-ship event in port: 17 buses with a police escort carry all faculty, staff, and students to the University of Havana en masse.  
We walk up the 88-step escalinata (staircase) to the beautiful University of Havana campus. 
We are warmly welcomed by the U of Havana faculty and students.
Our students are interviewed by the press and we find ourselves in the news (NBC NewsLatin American Herald Tribune, Daily Progress).
Our ~600  students break up into 3 conferences and we opt to attend US-Cuban Relations Before and Beyond the Cold War, led by Paul Rodriguez, Center for Hemispheric and US Studies, University of Havana.
We end our time at the University of Havana with a student cultural show of song and dance followed by a dance party in the warm sunny afternoon.
Yours in enjoying the warmth and magic of Havana,

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