Spanish professor organizes symposium to teach students about Cuban culture

Fidel Castro, cigars and baseball are some of the things that come to mind when mentioning the Republic of Cuba, but much like it’s sandwich namesake, this Caribbean island has many layers.

The largest island in the Caribbean, which just 330 miles south of Miami, is close in proximity, yet our shared knowledge of each other is limited due our contentious relationship.

“They have had a big effect on our history and we’ve had a big effect on theirs,” Spanish professor Donna Factor said.

Foster, who is also a musician, first traveled to Cuba in the early 2000’s to study music and instantly fell in love with the country and it’s people.

“I love the Cuban people’s outlook on life, their strength and spirituality,” Foster said.

In December of 2014, then president Obama ended 54 years of hostility with Cuba and the U.S. in what is known as the Cuban thaw and in less than three years this new relationship came to halt in June of 2017 according to an article from LA Times posted on June 11 by Tracy Wilkinson.

“I think it’s important to start establishing bridges and build a mutual understanding,” Factor said

Professor Foster organized this four day symposium that will offer a look into Cuba, it’s history, traditions, culture and even discuss traveling to and around the island.

“It’s very easy to love Cuba and I’m hoping to spread my passion for the country,” Foster said.

One of the key events taking place is the Panorama of Cuban Dance and Music on performed by Kati Hernandez, Lazaro Galarraga and Bobby Wilmore, which will showcase the different styles of Cuban music and dance.

Other workshops include “2 nations, 1 pastime,” by baseball humanitarian Aron Levinson, “Cuba Classics: a celebration of vintage American automobiles,” by travel journalist Christopher P. Baker and “The challenge of principled engagement with Cuba: Between Obama’s opening and Trump’s reversal,” just to name a few.

Among those scheduled to speak was writer and anthropologist Miguel Barnet. He will not able attend the event due to current travel restrictions and suspension of visas for Cubans.

All lectures will be held in the Alondra Room, except for the Panorama of Cuban Dance and Music Performance, which will be on Tuesday Oct, 17 at 1 p.m. in the Campus Theatre.

The event is free to all students. For more information regarding speakers and times, students and faculty can visit

“Students can expect to be inspired, entertained and it’s going to be really fun,” added Foster.