The Lauder mini-immersion trips to Cuba aims to foster insights into the causes and consequences of the Cuban Revolution and the implications of this historic event in contemporary Cuban society. In addition, participants learned about and experienced the consequences of economic reforms in everyday life.
Prior to the on-site program, students attended preparatory lectures led by the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. These lectures provided the historical context for a comprehensive understanding of the Cuban Revolution and the subsequent events that have impacted Cuban society.
During the immersion, students visited historic sites in Havana and met with Cuban scholars, official representatives of political institutions and artists who introduced students to themes including: Cuba’s urban challenges, Cuban international relations, recent economic reforms, and contemporary cultural movements. Students interacted with Cubans in both urban and rural areas in order to develop a richer understanding of contemporary perspectives. The trip included visits to three locations: Havana, Viñales Valley, and Cayo Jutia.
One of the highlights of the students’ trip was meeting the honorable Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and the Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba (see picture), to discuss the exciting new relations between the US and Cuba.
The mini-immersion program will continue to challenge student’s cultural competencies and give them an unique, overall perspective of global business in regions that they may not have the opportunity to visit. In addition to Cuba, the Lauder Institute also offers mini-immersions to Thailand and other countries as well. In the future, Lauder alumni will have an opportunity to attend the mini-immersion trips to learn side by side with current students. The goals of this initiative are to provide alumni with life-long learning opportunities, and to enrich the experience of the students.
“The trip was a fascinating opportunity to observe Cuba at such a crucial intersection, where the ruling elite finally recognizes that the country must stand on its own and cannot rely on Soviet or Venezuelan cash inflows or remittances from Miami, and the government must relinquish some control and let the market economy develop while avoiding both the privatization mistakes of post-Soviet Russia and the social unrest of the Arab Spring.” (Natalya Guseva, Lauder/Wharton 2015, Russian Track).
“Having alumni on the trip with the rest of us was special. It helped us connect yesterday’s Lauder with today’s. Because we all are Lauder and we all speak the same language: Lauder Love.” (Diego Rimoch, Lauder/Wharton 2015, Global track).