Ruth Mikre, who will be receiving her MA in Global Affairs in May 2016, traveled to Havana, Cuba for the program's required seminar abroad. Not only did she find the experience valuable for her studies but she also found synergy between her newly gained knowledge of the emerging market of Havana and the interests and mission of her workplace—Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), the largest association for third party logistics companies or transportation brokers in North America.
In order to prepare for leading the first Logistics Delegation to Cuba, of almost 20 people, TIA asked Ruth to speak to the organization to help prepare for the trip. The primary focus of the visit was examine the current state Cuban port infrastructure and industry as well as port regulations. The delegation planned to visit ports and manufacturing sites, as well as meet with economists and leaders in Cuban foreign trade and investment.
My colleagues requested that I present my experiences traveling to Havana and offer any tips for them to optimize their 5 days in the city. I focused my travel tips on preemptive preparation and realistic expectations within Cuba’s system of ration. I also summarized our academic focuses of foreign direct investment in the context of evolving normalization efforts between Cuba and the US.
The most common question from my colleagues was: “How were the people and what do Cubans think of Americans?” I explained that the people of Havana exuded a unique pride strengthened by their struggle, and nationalism also reaffirmed by their stamina. And although I may have been different or an outsider, the high levels of racial and ethnic diversity afforded me a certain level of comfort I often go without in parts of Virginia. Furthermore, the students and professors we met with candidly described that Cuban sentiment towards Americans is positive and that the main point of contention is toward the American government and the implementation of the blockade.
March 09, 2016