IOHRM students Soundarya Kanthimathinathan and Katie Maness and program director Dr. Tim Huelsman started 2019 with a January trip to Cuba with Dr. Rachel Shinnar (MGT) and more than a dozen MBA and business students. They spent time in Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and other locales as they learned about Cuba-US relations, Cuban history and culture, and the emergence of entrepreneurial enterprises in this unique socialist country.
They found themselves surrounded by colorful buildings and classic cars, but they also got to see Cuba beyond the photographer’s dream. They heard about the real adversity Cuban’s face from taxi drivers, restaurant servers, artists and entrepreneurs who pursued new ventures because their engineering or law careers did not provide them basic necessities. As Dr. Humberto Blanco from the University of Havana told them, “Cubans don’t know what to expect from their government. So, they must always be prepared to change their way of life.” Despite the looming stress of instability, Cubans find ways to celebrate—almost everywhere, the sound of music and the sight of salsa dancing was present. The trio learned a lot but returned from Cuba with even more questions. Their guide, Andres Perez, chuckled as he suggested, “Even Cubans don’t understand Cuba. We can learn, but we can’t know all there is to know about this complicated country.”
Photo caption: (L to R) IOHRM's Soundarya Kanthimathinathan, Tim Huelsman, & Katie Maness in the Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba (January 2019)