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Fieldwork and Site Visits

Fieldwork: An Experience at the Cuban Worker’s Union

Fieldwork in Cuba

Fieldwork provides an effective way to move your Cuban experience beyond the classroom and academe. One such program is with the Cuban Worker’s Union, Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC). “Our internship was a valuable experience, as we had an inside perspective on labor and political systems very different from that of he United States,” writes Elizabeth Coakley and Laila Berstein, participants from Sarah Lawrence. “The Director of Labor and Social Affairs in the National Office of the CTC acted as our mentor, teaching us about labor law in Cuba, the structure of union organization, and the political system. We also interviewed union leaders and lawyers in more specific areas such as the agricultural and fisherman’s union, and the harbor worker’s unions. We were able to tailor these interviews to our own interests, and ask questions about women in the Cuban labor system, what role race plays, unemployment, and other specific topics of interest. We were invited to attend a regional labor meeting where we met people from all over the area and observed how the meeting functioned. We also were in contact with a se or of Cuban society that we did not interact with in our University classes or in the city. Additionally, our internship was important to the CTC, as it enabled them to increase international understanding of the Cuban political system.”

Travel & Visits

Site visits are another way you can acquire firsthand experience on the program. Visits to medical facilities, schools, sugar mills, historic sites, caves and tobacco plantations, to name a few, form solid pathways to intensify understanding of Cuba and its complex culture.

SLC in CubaSite visits in and around Havana have included:

  • Sugar mill at Santa Maria del Norte
  • Cooperative farm
  • Clinics, hospitals and maternity wards
  • Schools
  • Centers for the aged
  • Museums
  • Ballet, theatre and concerts
  • International Havana Film Festival
  • Santiago (the main city in the Orient province; Fidel’s revolutionary power base)
  • Cienfuegos, Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios (Sugar Mill Valley)
  • Matanzas and Varadero, Pinar del Rio and Vinales (tobacco country)
  • Santa Clara (site of Che’s victory and memorial)
  • Playa Girón (site of Bay of Pigs invasion)

On Cuba

"The best part of the program was the number of visits and excursions we were able to go on through CEDEM and other contacts. I don’t know of any other study-abroad program that includes so much travel." —Cuba program participant