From May 30 to June 8, a group of students from Grady College participated in a new study away Maymester program in Havana, Cuba.
The program, titled “Health Journalism in Cuba,” gave both undergraduate and graduate student travelers an in-depth look at the island nation’s healthcare system and how local and international journalists find and convey health stories to the public.
“This unique, interdisciplinary program was such a valuable experience for all involved,” said Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair of Health and Medical Journalism at the College. Rice coordinated the program with the help of Hilda Mata of the Office of Global Engagement and Maureen Costello, of the Lamar Dodd School of Art.
While there, students had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with Cuban health and science journalists, and they were able to speak with doctors, nurses and sports medicine specialists about a public health system that differs from what exists in the United States.
“It was amazing to observe ‘aha’ moments as they noted the differences and stepped outside of their comfort zones for this truly eye-opening intercultural exchange,” Rice added.
Over the course of the 10-day trip, students also had the opportunity to explore in and around Havana. They toured a nature reserve, tried local honey, visited radio and television studios, and, of course, visited local hospitals and clinics, among other activities.
“It was a great atmosphere. It’s a gem. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Keshondra Shipp, a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student, said about visiting Las Terrazas, a small, rural community outside of Havana.
To document their trip, students were tasked with creating blog posts and photo stories. Regularly, they were able to converse with health care professionals and journalists, as well as mass communication students at the University of Havana, about their experiences.
“Having the opportunity to do this sort of cultural exchange while in school is so important,” said Alex Anteau, also a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student.
“Despite the fact that the planet is very large, a lot of the problems people face are very universal – especially when it comes to health communication,” Anteau added. “On the whole, we are really dealing with similar issues, and it is really interesting to see how people with different backgrounds approach those challenges.”