Our CultureLink Tea program provides our international students the oppurtunity to present on their home countries. Join ISS every month for a country presentation, tea and desserts!
Teas are free and open to the entire St. Thomas community!
"Welcome to Cuba"
Date: April 24, 2014
Time: 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Place: Koch Commons
Presenter: Giselle Garcia Castro & Nick Ronnei
CultureLink Tea for this coming April will be a presentation collaborated by the International Student Services office and the Study Abroad office. Our two presenters will be Giselle Garcia Castro, a current UST international student who is from Cuba and Nick Ronnei, a current junior who traveled to Cuba this past J-Term. Giselle’s enthusiasm about filming made her interested in coming to the U.S. as an exchange student in the Communication and Journalism program. Nick Ronnei is studying geography and geographic information systems. Both of them are excited about sharing amazing stories and introducing Cuba to the UST community.
Studying abroad in the U.S. as an exchange student was impossible a couple years ago for Giselle due to political reasons. As soon as it became possible, Giselle decided to study in the U.S. and applied for scholarship. “St. Thomas was creating new programs in filming studies and I was very excited about it so I applied for a scholarship and came to St. Thomas,” Giselle said, “I believe I am the first student coming as an exchange student instead of an immigrant.” Giselle will leave St. Thomas after this May but she will continue her filming studies back in Cuba after she gains tons of experience in the U.S. about filming.
Giselle is from the capital city of Cuba, Havana, and came to America in August, 2013. Studying in the U.S. was the first time she left Cuba. “I was dreaming about travelling around the world and see what’s going on out there,” said Giselle, “America opens the door for me to explore technology in the field of filming.” Before she came to the U.S., she was worried about how American people perceived her since it was unusual to see a girl from Cuba here. “It is very surprised to know that there are so much information out there.” Giselle said. Everything here is new and a shock to her. Especially when she first arrived at the Miami Airport, she was shocked to find out everything was organized and full of people. “Everything is labeled and clean and updated. Havana is an old city but in a beautiful way, but when I came to the U.S. I have experienced lots of different things and they are so different from Cuba. It was cool to see how it goes out there.”
Nick is from the U.S. and randomly found out that there was a long line of St. Thomas alumni in his family. After he stepped on campus, he could feel that he belonged and decided to study at St. Thomas. And for studying abroad in Cuba, Nick said: “It’s a once in a life chance for most Americans studying in Cuba.” When he got the chance to study abroad in Cuba, a lot of his friends were shocked and asked him if it was legal to be in Cuba. “Another reason for studying in Cuba is because, going somewhere so geographically close but so culturally and economically different is a great opportunity you cannot pass up.”
Speaking of the culture differences between two countries, Nick said that he tried to be very open minded in going to Cuba and tried to learn as much as he could. However, he still experienced a lot of differences there, one being the architecture in Cuba. “In Cuba, most architecture have their own flavor, like Caribbean influence, Latin influence.” He also thought that Russia has played a huge role in Cuba before he was there. However after he explored the cities he found out that it was such a small part in Cuba’s history and society. Nick also had many stereotypes about the culture before he stepped into Cuba. However, his experiences in Cuba changed his perspective about the country and the people who live there. “People are out there [on the street] in the late night and hanging out there, having fun and they are so happy for their lives.”
Both of them have wonderful study abroad experiences and they are excited to share tier experience with the UST community! Let’s look forward to the April CultureLink Tea and explore Cuba together with Giselle and Nick!