Pardee Students Take Spring Academic Trip to Cuba

Photo: Julie Klinger

Students from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, along with BU students from other schools, took a recent academic trip to Cuba to learn about the cultural and historical aspects of Cuba’s foreign policy, with a particular emphasis on Cuba-Africa and Cuba-China relations.

Students also sat in on lectures by Boston University faculty leaders who went on the trip including Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School, Linda Heywood, Professor of African American Studies and History, and John Thornton, Professor of African American Studies and History. The trip is part of a one-credit class called Experiencing Cuba: History, Culture and Politics.

Writing on the trip, BU Today describes the lecture Klinger gave to students on the history of Cuba’s relationship with China:

When it was Klinger’s turn to lecture, she focused on Cuba’s relationship with China, from the thousands of Chinese “coolie” laborers brought to Cuba who were essentially slaves themselves in the 1800s, to the present day, when China is Cuba’s largest trade partner. China was the first country to recognize the Castro government, and Chinese trade has helped Cuba emerge from what Cubans call “the special period,” from the late 1980s through late 1990s, when the Eastern Bloc collapsed and with it Soviet support of Cuba. Shortages and hardships were epidemic during the special period, and recovery has just begun with the ramp-up of the tourist trade over the last decade.

The trip, now in its third year, was aimed at providing students with a better sense of the history and culture of Cuba, but also of the ongoing changes to Cuban culture and society that have accompanied the normalization of relations with the United States.

During the week-long trip, students had the opportunity to meet with U.S. officials, tour the local arts community, meet with students at the Latin American School of Medicine outside of Havana, visit the Revolution Museum and take in a ballet at the restored Opera House in Havana.