Ignite Research Abroad- Cuba

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ll had a fantastic spring break! My spring break was very exciting. I got selected to attend the Ignite Research Abroad Program to Cuba along with approximately 10 other students! It was a great experience, and I got to learn a little about the Cuban culture. There were approx 14 students in total. My research topic was about the process of reopening flight operations between Delta Airlines and Havana Airport after the suspension. I got to interview Demetra Bethavas, Delta’s Station Manager in Cuba and Mayda Molina, Director of Instituto de Aeronautica Civil de Cuba (she’s basically the head of Cuban “FAA”)!!! Talk about connections though! My report will be completed by end of April so I will be sure to post the link if it gets published.

Middle: Mayda Molina, Director of IACC

Middle: Mayda Molina, Director of IACC

Cuba seemed like a different world- basically the whole world was moving forward but Cuba was stuck in time. There were antique cars, and my boyfriend and I got lucky to get a taxi back to the hotel in one of those classic cars!

This is a picture of me in one of those classic cars in Cuba!

This is a picture of me in one of the classic cars in Cuba!

My boyfriend, Brent, and I took a "classic" cab back to our hotel.

My boyfriend, Brent, and I took a “classic” cab back to our hotel.

We visited modern Havana on our first day and toured around the Vedado neighbourhoods. On the second day,  we attended a conference with a professor of University of Havana, Maria Elena Martin. She has a Doctor in Architecture. We also toured the Havana Plaza and visited Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis.

Posing in front of the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis

Posing in front of the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis

"El Caballero de Paris" statue: Tourists touch this statue in the position displayed for good luck!

“El Caballero de Paris” statue: Tourists touch this statue in the position displayed for good luck!

The next day, we visited Finca Vigia, where North America’s literary giant Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature, followed by a visit to Cojimar, a small fishing village, which was one of Hemingway’s favourite places in Cuba.

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Brent and I in front of Ernest Hemingway’s boat.

We visited Pinar del Rio tobacco region and toured around the Vinales Valley on the fourth day. It was beautiful, and everyone bought some of their famous cigars. I was lucky to get a sample cigar for free while the person was demonstrating how cigars were made!

Tobacco leaves in the factory that are hung for drying after which they are used to make cigars.

Tobacco leaves in the factory that are hung for drying after which they are used to make cigars.

Brent and I in front of a tobacco farm in Pinar del Rio.

Brent and I in front of a tobacco farm in Pinar del Rio.

On the fifth day, we visited Las Terrazas, the natural splendor of Cuba and the coffee plantations. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts and Convento de Nuestra Senora de Belen, a humanitarian health project in Old Havana. It is a home to fifty elderly people and provides physiotherapy and ophthalmological services to many more elderly in the community. Other acitivities include exercise classes, board games, cognitive rehabilitation, films and crafts workshops. The walls were filled with beautiful intricate designs.

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Convento de Nuestra Senora de Belen

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The next day were visited Matanzas, also known as Cuban Athens, which was a grand port in colonial times for the export of sugar and also explored Cuba’s tallest bridge, Bacunayagua. Then, we continued to Varadero and had a relaxing time on the beach. We headed back to the US the next day.

Bacunayagua: Cuba's tallest bridge

Bacunayagua: Cuba’s tallest bridge

I had a fantastic time in Cuba learning about their culture. I must say that I got a little homesick, but that increased my adaptability to a different lifestyle. It was a great experience and would definitely recommend people to visit.

Until next time,

Maryam

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Maryam

About Maryam

Internship: ALPA - Brooke Owens Fellowship Program
Major: Spaceflight Operations
Minors: Flight, Aviation Safety, Human Factors
Hometown: Dubai, UAE
Campus Involvement: National Society for Collegiate Scholars, Women's Ambassador Program, Orientation Team, Women in Aviation, International Society of Air Safety Investigators, Spaceflight Sciences Policy and Operations Club, Career Services Student Ambassador
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: Because of my passion for flight and the great networking opportunities Riddle provides!

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