There are two new study abroad opportunities at Emory & Henry College, and both trips are headed to communist countries. After this upcoming graduation on May 7, students will have the opportunity to go to either Cuba or Vietnam. Mark Finney, Department Chair of E&H’s Mass Communications program, will be leading the trip to Cuba alongside Professor Mary Bell Boltwood. Dr. Fisher and Professor Deborah Spencer are leading the Vietnam study abroad trip.
“This trip will be an excellent opportunity for students to see what life is like inside a country with a different economic structure. We put a lot of emphasis on personal wealth in our country and it will be exciting to see a place where that isn’t always the case,” said Finney on the upcoming Cuba trip.
Students going on the Cuba study abroad trip will have the opportunity to study Cuban culture up close through exploring the country and spending time with Cuban families. Trip goers will also be filming a documentary on Cuban culture and the perception of Cuba in the media.
Professor Deborah Spencer, who has traveled to Vietnam before, is equally excited for the Vietnam study abroad trip.
“I want as many people as possible to come. We’ll be touring war remnants, studying the effects of Agent Orange and we’ll be working with Peacework and the YMCA on a special service project in Ben Tre City. On top of all that we’ll be touring all throughout South Vietnam,” said Spencer.
A possible deterrence for students wanting to go on these trips is that Cuba and Vietnam are communist countries and have a history of conflict with the United States. Cuba, in 1962, allied itself with the Soviet Union and agreed to host Soviet nuclear weapons, plunging the world’s superpowers into a standoff that held the world hostage. Later called the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was an event that caused an embargo to be placed on Cuba by the United States that is still in place today. However, Finney disagrees with the notion that Cuba might still be a threat.
“I have had a few students tell me their parents won’t let them go because it’s a communist country, but Cuba poses zero threat to the U.S. I feel that a fear of countries like Cuba is largely self-imposed. One of the reasons that we’re going on this trip is because we haven’t been allowed to go before, with the travel embargo,” explained Finney. The travel embargo on Cuba was lifted by President Obama in July 2015.
Likewise, the Vietnam War is remembered as one of the most difficult in our history, as the war was responsible for the deaths of over one million people. Spencer said that there is no need for any concern, as the trip will mostly take place in South Vietnam, where she said citizens of the United States are welcome.
“I cannot tell you how many times people have pulled me aside just to have their picture taken with someone from the United States. It will be a wonderful opportunity for everyone,” said Spencer.
– Jeffrey Cowart