The Cuba Project is an interdisciplinary, two-semester internship experience that immerses students in another culture while providing them with real-world training in the multimedia industry. Five Jacksonville University undergraduate students, from five different disciplines spanning the arts and sciences, competed for a two-semester internship with TigerLily, a Jacksonville-based film production company, that includes an eight-day cultural immersion in and around Havana, Cuba. Students spent Semester I (Fall 2018) gaining a deep understanding of Cuba’s history, culture, and economy through selected readings, documentaries, and other media. Additionally, students received hands-on training and mentorship from TigerLily professionals to prepare them for a trip to Cuba where students photo- and video-documented their experience. Students spent Semester II (Spring 2019) editing videos and creating this website that details their experience abroad. Students worked together as a group, but each student was also responsible for deliverables specific to their discipline.

Throughout the internship, students served as team leader for their respective discipline, planned and tracked numerous, multi-disciplinary components of the project from start to finish, analyzed themselves and their knowledge within the context of a foreign, communist country, and shared their experiences through various platforms. While students broadened their horizons, they gained industry hands-on training, both locally, and while in the field in Cuba, and served as American ambassadors in Cuba as they engaged with Cuban people from all walks of life.

The Cuba Project is one part of a broader Cuba Initiative at Jacksonville University that that seeks to establish nonpolitical, academic collaborative agreements with Cuban institutions. This internship program builds trust with Cuban partner institutions and builds a foundation for further student and faculty exchange, such as independent study, thesis projects, joint publications, internships, and study abroad programming. This internship experience in Cuba is possible because of trusted and established relationships in Cuba, most notably with the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation (FANJ), who provided several meaningful opportunities to engage with Cuban scholars and agriculturalists through conferences, visits to permaculture farms, and museum tours.

Funding for this project was made possible by Jacksonville University’s EPIC program, in-kind contributions from TigerLily, and contributions from individual donors.