Cuban expedition to take off Spring Break of 2016

Students will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with Cuba's rich culture. (Flickr / Angelo Domini) / Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC 2.0)

Students will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with Cuba’s rich culture. (Flickr / Angelo Domini / Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC 2.0)

It’s a good time to get Cuba on your radar. For the first time, Saddleback College is offering a unique opportunity to spend spring break in Cuba. The trip will be a total of ten days and will visit five Cuban cities.

This distinct opportunity comes as the result of the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Last December it was announced that the United States would lift its economic and commercial embargo that was placed on Cuba over 50 years ago.

This decision will also eventually lighten the travel restrictions that were once a barrier for American travelers. Unfortunately as of now Americans cannot travel to Cuba for tourism, but luckily for Saddleback, educational endeavors are one of the exceptions.

Last night, Saddleback students met with Professor Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo to discuss the details of this cultural expenditure.

“We are going to visit Havana, Valle de Vinales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santa Clara,” said Hernandez-Bravo.

The trip will be focused on Cuban culture, discussing sustainable agriculture, art, dance and even ceramics with local professionals. Hernandez-Bravo will be visiting Cuba in late October for a conference on the internationalization of higher education and for the purpose to make more personal connections.

“I’m going to Cuba and I’m going to make more contacts, because I want you to have an amazing experience with everything,” said Hernandez-Bravo.

The trip will extend for 10 days; nine days will be in Cuba, while one night will be spent in Miami. The night in Miami is necessary due to the fact that Miami is the only location that is currently supplying flights to Cuba.

Each day will be supplied with meals and filled with various planned activities. However, these activities are not mandatory.

“If you don’t like any of the activities that day, then you don’t have to come,” said Hernandez-Bravo. “I want everyone to feel free to wander.”

The trip to Cuba isn’t cheap. The price is $3,300 covering everything except airfare. Though compared to other colleges the price is reasonable. Hernandez-Bravo noted that a lot of other colleges are charging double the price for the exact same program.

Despite the price, the program is overflowing with interest. Some students and faculty feeling that this is the optimum time to visit Cuba.

“This is the only time Cuba will be the way Cuba is right now, before it eventually becomes commercialized,” said Todd Glen, a retired professor at Fullerton College. “This is the time to do it.”

Students ranging from college age to retirees have shown interest in the program. Some have already committed to the trip. However space is limited, Hernandez-Bravo plans to take no more than 20 students on the trip, so interested students better act quickly.

Some students have even traveled with Hernandez-Bravo in the past, while others have interacted with her in the classroom.

“I definitely want to go on the spring trip to Cuba,” said Bianca Ruffino, a 26-year old communications major. “I love Carmenmara, she’s just a blast to be around.”

The trip to Cuba will embark Thursday, Mar. 17 and return Friday, Mar 25.