International Educator - November/December 2014 - 51

social and cultural motivations of internationalization. In a moment, it seemed like we
were in an international educator's dream. In
a land where economics, assessment metrics,
and discussions of career relevance were put
aside for discussions of doing your part for
the world and cross-cultural understanding
their role in the international system, Cubans
do not shy away from their responsibility to
contribute to their own communities and to
those across the globe.
Every piece of the puzzle that is Cuban
internationalization seemed to fracture into
tinier, jagged pieces, making our experience
produce more questions than answers. International student flows between the United
States and Cuba are largely one-sided and
insubstantial considering the numbers of
students traveling en masse to other parts of
the world. Despite, or perhaps because of, the
hoops we jumped through and the documentation we collected to be able to go in the first

place, our research was rich and complicated-and the information gained feels like an
archaeological dig that continues to give up
relics that we can gain so much from through
the exchange of ideas, culture, and learning.
The vintage cars contributed to the sense
that it was a journey back in time, but we
learned a great deal from our brief stint in
time travel. To make sense of any of our research, it is impossible to overemphasize the
political backdrop. Even the nature of our
decision to travel to Cuba was allowed and
regulated by the ever-changing government
travel restrictions. The recent halt in education visas is a reminder of just how fragile
the relations are between our two countries.
As international educators, we encourage our students to go beyond their comfort
zones, pop the American bubble to engage
and connect with their host community.
Our time in Cuba is a reminder to ourselves
that even brief experiences, like Búsquedas

Investigativas, are at the crux of academic
exchange. People-to-people dialogue leads
to understanding and ultimately improved
relations between countries. Our hope is
that our reflections can be an impetus for
other U.S. educators to foster international
partnerships in Cuba. After all, what better
place to establish a mutual understanding
that strengthens ties and promotes international collaboration than with our neighbor.
In some ways, going to Cuba felt like the longest 90-mile stretch any of us has traveled.
But perhaps the distance between our two
countries will shrink through continued exchange and collaboration.
IE
DIMITRI NESSAS is pursing a master's degree in
international education at Columbia University's
Teachers College. TAYLOR C. WOOD is an
international education policy doctoral student at
the University of Maryland. MARY LYNN WOODS
is pursuing a master's degree in international
education development at Columbia University's
Teachers College.

N O V + D E C .14 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR

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