An Intern’s Trip to Cuba

Overlooking Old Havana. Photo by Huy Nguyen

During the winter of 2015, The University of South Florida along with the Holcombe family cooperated to fund an academic trip to Cuba. All 15 of the USF Holcombe scholarship recipients, including me, signed up to go. Our purpose was to learn about the culture, academics, and lifestyle of Cubans, both pre- and post-revolution. We also had opportunities to aid in installing water purification systems in communities near Havana.

Cuba1University tour guide and Dr. Charles Adams (right), Dean of the USF Honors College at the University of Havana. Photo by Huy Nguyen

Aside from being “randomly” selected for interrogation at the airport, the flight to Cuba was filled with thrill and shock. While we only spent one week in Cuba, our days were filled with activities and travel. We spent time learning about the economy, healthcare, and education at the University of Havana as well as many of the local areas. One of our students was from Cuba, and we had a chance to travel and visit his family. This opportunity not only allowed us to taste some of the best homemade Cuban food, but also experience the different lifestyle and economic conditions in rural parts of Cuba.

Cuba3Julianna Konsulian and Huy Nguyen at Varadero Beach.

Havana was especially mesmerizing, with its diversity of people and lifestyles, but at the same time, the city presented a sad contrast in economic conditions between the old and new. During my time working at USF Graphicstudio, I had the chance to meet some Cuban artists as well as experience some of their amazing artwork. Work from artists such as Abel Barroso and Carlos Garaicoa comments on the contemporary life and the birth of the new over the old, reflecting personal homeland history and experience. These works often reveal history and relationships regarding the shifting culture and challenges that are present in Cuba. To personally experience the atmosphere and conditions of not only Havana, but also other rural areas was an astonishing opportunity.

Cuba2(Left to right) Brad Holcombe, Peter Reyes, and Nelson Ysabel at the National Hotel of Cuba. Photo by Huy Nguyen

Huy Nguyen
Marketing Undergraduate and Graphicstudio Intern
Muma College of Business
University of South Florida

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