Greetings from Havana! Global Immersion Cuba is on. In our first couple of days here in sunny and warm Havana, our group of 40 students has attended thought-provoking presentations covering the Cuban economy, international trade, the financial and banking system, famed Cuban cigars, the rich historical heritage of Havana, and attended an energetic (to say the least!) baseball game.
We have more questions than answers. Every answer leads to more questions. This is Cuba in 2015. We cannot escape discussion of the embargo or the recent decisions made by the Obama administration to loosen restrictions and seek to restore ties between the United States and Cuba. The United States looms large in the Cuban psyche; it’s obvious from every presentation, our interactions with local people on the streets, and signs are everywhere.
It’s hard to understand how it works here. And by it, I mean, everything. Cuban socialism is its own system, that affects everything about the economy to personal values and priorities. Cuban socialism has qualities of the Soviet system, but at the same time feels like a small island culture. As capitalists from an American business school, it’s hard to think without reference to a “market” because we are so accustomed to concepts of “profit” and “ownership” but in reality those concepts are more complex than the words imply when used here in Cuba.
You also can’t escape the charm. The classic cars, national pride and the sense of the former wealth of Havana. It’s a beautiful city filled with polite and welcoming people.
There’s a lot to see and do, and so much to learn! This is Cuba in 2015, and the beginning of a new chapter in Cuban history. #cubanueva