Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 13
Rugby Culture in Barcelona
The men's and women's rugby teams spent 10 days in Barcelona
for what Coach Tony Brown describes as equal parts team bonding
and "just plain fun." The women's squad, coming off a No. 2 national
ranking in the fall season, won two of its three matches, while the
men lost both of theirs. But Brown and the players pronounced the
10-day visit to the Spanish coastal city a resounding success.
"These trips are more about bonding as a team than about getting
ready for our spring schedule," Brown says. "There's not a lot of time
to tweak our techniques, but we're able to hone a few things and
experience a rugby culture."
Women's Co-captain Mariah Ghant '17 says she enjoyed the
renewed camaraderie with her teammates after the winter layoff. And
while the time she spent with her team on the pitch was valuable,
Ghant says, one of her favorite experiences was spending a few hours
by herself in the Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum).
Men's Co-captain George Sheppard '18 says he was pleased with
the play of the team's newcomers, despite the outcome of the matches.
"Some of our players had never faced this type of competition-they
were thrown into the deep end of the pool quite suddenly-and to see
them step up and play well in their very first game was encouraging,"
he says. "Spending those 10 days together gave us something to build
on going into the spring season."
Photos courtesy of the students and professors
Cultural Exchange in Cuba
With diplomatic relations between Cuba and the united States slowly
being reestablished, 33 students enrolled in International Studies
110 observed the accelerating pace of change on the Caribbean's
largest island. The socialist nation continues to suffer the effects of
the united States' long-standing trade embargo, but the students and
faculty-Associate Professor of History Leslie Offutt, Professor of
Geography Brian Godfrey, and Associate Professor of Economics
Sarah Pearlman-say they encountered a vibrant society coping with
political and economic transformation.
During their stay, they met with members of neighborhood block
organizations, historians, economists, artists, environmentalists, and
educators in Havana and several other Cuban cities. In the city of
Camagüey, a World Heritage site about 335 miles east of Havana,
the students stayed with host families for two nights. They also
visited three other communities designated as World Heritage sites:
La Habana Vieja, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos.
Offutt, who has visited Cuba several times over the past five
years, says the country has undergone significant change since Fidel
Castro ceded power to his brother, Raul, in 2008. "Raul's course has
been one of modernization," she says. The updates have, in part, been
to accommodate tourism. But Harin Kang '18, a political science major
from Santa Clarita, CA, notes that while Cuba's growing tourism
industry helps Cuban citizens who work in that sector, it is having
some negative effects on many others. "As demand for more food
comes from the big hotels and resorts that are springing up, that
draws food away from the rest of the people," he says.
VA S S A R Q u A R T E R LY