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Internationalizing the Curriculum: Study Abroad as a Tool for Redefining and Reconstructing National Identity in a Global Context
Unformatted Document Text:  France & Rogers 20 Doug, the one student on the trip who was already fluent in Spanish, encountered yet another element of what it meant to be an American in Cuba. He said that it was important for him to “tread lightly…to be conscious of what I represented to the Cubans as an American citizen. Their economic situation is the fault of U.S. policies.” While he admitted that he tried to avoid the subject of politics completely, his ability to speak Spanish made it easier for him to separate himself from the politics of the United States; Cubans were “a lot faster to accept you if you could express yourself to them.” While he felt that Cubans “assumed that everyone likes Bush, which is not an American concept at all, but an entirely Cuban one [to have unanimous support for a political leader], they didn’t see it as a people thing; it was a Bush thing.” The ability of these Cubans to separate the policies of the U.S. from the citizens themselves provided not only an alternate lens for these students to view their government through, but their role as Americans as well. Renegotiating American Identity through an Alternate Lens Students also learned the important role U.S. policy has played in the development of Cuban life and politics, and even the power the Cuban-American populations possess within the United States in terms of not only the trade embargo, but even presidential elections. They were surprised by how much Cubans, specifically professors and students at the University of Havana, knew about U.S. politics and history. Brian explained that while the embargo was “one minor law that never gets talked about that has a vice grip on an entire country, a whole people, and 90% of the people in [the U.S.] don’t know about it….It makes you wonder how much stuff goes on that we have no clue about that grossly effects people’s lives.” Even in their day to day interactions with Cubans, as Brian points out, they realized it was “almost sad how much more they knew about American history and politics.” While he considered himself relatively well- CIRCULATION OF THIS PAPER IS NOT PERMITTED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE AUTHORS.

Authors: France, Hollis. and Rogers, Kaylee.
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France & Rogers 20
Doug, the one student on the trip who was already fluent in Spanish, encountered yet
another element of what it meant to be an American in Cuba. He said that it was important for
him to “tread lightly…to be conscious of what I represented to the Cubans as an American
citizen. Their economic situation is the fault of U.S. policies.” While he admitted that he tried to
avoid the subject of politics completely, his ability to speak Spanish made it easier for him to
separate himself from the politics of the United States; Cubans were “a lot faster to accept you if
you could express yourself to them.” While he felt that Cubans “assumed that everyone likes
Bush, which is not an American concept at all, but an entirely Cuban one [to have unanimous
support for a political leader], they didn’t see it as a people thing; it was a Bush thing.” The
ability of these Cubans to separate the policies of the U.S. from the citizens themselves provided
not only an alternate lens for these students to view their government through, but their role as
Americans as well.
Renegotiating American Identity through an Alternate Lens
Students also learned the important role U.S. policy has played in the development of
Cuban life and politics, and even the power the Cuban-American populations possess within the
United States in terms of not only the trade embargo, but even presidential elections. They were
surprised by how much Cubans, specifically professors and students at the University of Havana,
knew about U.S. politics and history. Brian explained that while the embargo was “one minor
law that never gets talked about that has a vice grip on an entire country, a whole people, and
90% of the people in [the U.S.] don’t know about it….It makes you wonder how much stuff goes
on that we have no clue about that grossly effects people’s lives.” Even in their day to day
interactions with Cubans, as Brian points out, they realized it was “almost sad how much more
they knew about American history and politics.” While he considered himself relatively well-
CIRCULATION OF THIS PAPER IS NOT PERMITTED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE AUTHORS.


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