La Voz Latina - Su puente a la comunidad Hispana de Georgia y Carolina del sur

ASU welcomes Cuban researcher to campus

  • Dr. Ned Rinalducci y Dr. Roberto Lima Ferrer. Foto por Rosie Bulloch.

Dr. Roberto Lima Ferrer, research professor at the Philosophy Institute of Cuba, visited Savannah last month in preparation for a three-week study abroad program that will send Armstrong State University students to Havana from July 9-27. Students will learn about the history, culture and contemporary issues affecting the Communist island nation post-Fidel Castro.
Dr. Lima spent the better part of a week in town, giving lectures on campus, touring local landmarks and meeting with various city officials. His visit was supervised by Dr. Ned Rinalducci, Armstrong Associate Professor of Sociology, who will act as director in residence for the trip to Cuba.
“Students will be exposed to an array of cultural activities and study excursions designed to encourage direct interact with the Cuban people,” Rinalducci said. “Cuba is on the verge of dramatic change and this frozen-in-time nation, just starting to open up, is a compelling place to study.”
“My first morning here in Savannah was very special,” Dr. Lima said. “I awoke to the sound of a Sinsonte (mockingbird) outside my window. He was making the sounds of many different birds and reminded me that birds have no respect for the artificial borders erected by man.”
Since President Barack Obama normalized relations with Cuba in 2014, there has been concern that an influx of tourists might bring unwelcome changes to the island nation's unique charms. But Lima said those concerns are overblown.
“Cuba's greatest resource is its people,” Lima said. “Tourism will not change their strength, their courage or their resolve. It is a good thing for our people to meet with tourists from around the world. We can open up to each other and share our ideas and perspective.”
Lima said the recent death of long-time Cuban president, Fidel Castro, has not resulted in noticeable changes to Cuban society.
“Fidel knew his death was coming so he and his brother (Raul Castro) have prepared our nation for gradual changes for many years now,” Lima said. “Fidel's basic mission to use education to advance and protect society from the problems caused by drugs and criminality has not changed.”
According to a report issued three years ago by the World Bank, Cuba has the best education system in Latin American and provides free, universal access to both education and health services.
Rinalducci said one of his biggest goals for the study abroad program was to give Armstrong students the opportunity to explore other cultures and to interact with people with different ideas different from their own.
“I believe honest discourse is a healthy thing,” Rinalducci said. “This trip will give students the chance to see the successes and failures of communism for themselves rather than just reading about it in a book. We will be staying in a historic part of Havana and interacting with local residents in ways that most tourists never get to experience.”
Lima agreed. “We welcome visits by these students,” he said. “They are much more open-minded than some American tourists. Just like the visit from a little sinsonte bird outside my window, we welcome them to our country. I just hope Mr. Trump will never build a wall tall enough to keep the birds from sharing their songs with us.”
For more information, please contact Ned Rinalducci at Ned.Rinalducci@armstrong.edu or 912.344.2968.

Issue Month: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017