Saint Anselm College
This spring break, nine students will receive an up close and personal education about Cuban culture and history through the global seminar course, HI 399 Special Areas (Cold War). The class includes an optional week-long experiential learning experience in Cuba, which enables students to learn from traditional classroom lectures while fully immersing themselves in the country’s history.
Professor Philip Pajakowksi describes HI 399 as a “study of the U.S. and Soviet relationship” during the Cold War. Co-taught by professors Pajakowski and Matthew Masur, the class examines the international rivalry, political relations, and markedly contrasting cultures that have defined global relations between America and the Soviet Union for five decades.
Alicia Chouinard ’17 has both an academic and personal interest in the trip; her mother migrated from Cuba to America in 1963, and this will be Chouinard’s first visit to the country. “It’s a topic I find really fascinating,” she says. “It is also a topic that was only briefly mentioned in the history classes I have taken, and was only presented from the American point of view.”
Exploring her family’s roots is especially important to the senior criminal justice major. “I’m looking forward to all of the sights and seeing some of the places that my grandmother has talked about,” says Chouinard. “I cannot pick what I’m most excited to do – hiking, salsa dancing, and museums are all things that I love! I’m also looking forward to the food.”
During this year’s trip, students and faculty will spend the week visiting museums and sites in Havana and Trinidad that complement their lectures. By visiting iconic areas like La Habana Vieja and the Bay of Pigs, they will connect famous historical events to personal observations.
According to Pajakowski, the Cold War is the “long story of conflict and restraint” between the U.S. and Soviets, a political tight-rope walk of international rivalry that threatened both countries with nuclear annihilation. He hopes that his students use the class and the spring break excursion to “see how much this relationship affected us, how much the dynamic affected our country, and the influence that relationship has today.”
This is the third time the seminar has been offered at the college and the second time that students will travel to Cuba since former President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would begin renewing relations with the island nation in 2015.
The faculty-led experiential program runs from March 4 to March 12.
About Global Seminars
The Office of International Programs offers short-term, semester and academic year study abroad programs to students in all academic majors. Global seminars, offered during the spring semester, combine classroom instruction throughout the semester and include an international component before the spring semester begins or during spring break. The global component enables Saint Anselm students to expand classroom learning, experiencing first-hand the content they learned on campus.
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