College of Southern Maryland celebrates sights, sounds and tastes of Cuba
Film showcases Cuban American views in light of renewed relations
College of Southern Mary- land students and communi- ty members were treated to some of the sights, sounds and tastes of Cuba Tuesday, in recognition of Interna- tional Week.
The CSM Global Initiatives Committee, in conjunction with the Student Activities Committee and the Diversi- ty Department, sponsored “Celebrating Cuba” with food, games, books, a slideshow, a film and live music.
Cicero Fain, co-chairman of the Global Initiatives Committee, said Cuba was chosen due to recent U.S. ef- forts to normalize relations with the Caribbean island.
“We want to broaden horizons, to inform, to engage, to build some bridges, to show that we all live in a global environment, that we can learn from each other, enrich each other’s life, and that the immigrant experience is the quintessential American experience. By learning about each other,
we grow,” Fain said.
On Dec. 17, 2014, President Barack Obama (D) announced the beginning of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Diplomatic relations were officially restored July 20, 2015. Diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed in 1961, follow- ing the communist Cuban Revolution of 1959.
Some travel restrictions to Cuba have been lifted, and CSM faculty and staff travelled to Cuba in spring 2016 as part of an educational trip.
Eileen Abel, vice president of academic affairs, shared some of the photos she took on the trip, as well as her observa- tions of Cuba.
Abel said Cuba is very much a country of contrasts.
“There are parts of Ha- vana that are extremely well-kept, and there are parts in which the infra- structure is crumbling,” Abel said.
CSM also provided several Cuban dishes for students and community members, including papas rellenas, or fried meat-stuffed potatoes; black bean soup; ropa vieja, or meat stew; taja- das, or fried plantains; and alcohol-free mojitos.
The event also included a screening of the documentary “Craving Cuba” by first-time documenta- ry filmmaker and second generation Cuban-Amer- ican Zuzelin Martin Lynch.
Lynch, born in northern New Jersey as the child and grandchild of Cuban immigrants fleeing Communist Cuba, wanted to explore what it means to be a Cuban-American.
“I’ve always been interested in questions of identity,” Lynch said. “So what does it mean for me to be Cuban-American, having never set foot in Cuba, or for my son, who is half Irish-American, half Cuban-American, and 100 percent California boy?”
Lynch had no experience with documentary filmmaking, and funded the entire film through an IndieGoGo campaign, which raised $10,000.
“That was enough for us to travel everywhere we needed to go. We bootstrapped everything else,” Lynch said.
Lynch said that, surprisingly, making a film about her Cuban roots put her more in touch with her American identity.
“In making the film, I realized that I’m an American,” Lynch said. “My whole life, I’ve always qualified my Americanness by saying I’m Cuban, just because of how I was raised, very immersed in the Old World, and in the process, I realized how American I am, in a good way. Where else could you just dream things up, just go for them?”
The one-hour film features interviews with Cuban-Americans of a variety of ages and different political views and walks of life.
“I tried to share opinions on all sides, because the topic of Cuba is very hot, and it is very polarizing among the Cuban-American community,” Lynch said. “My hope is not to convince anyone of any particular view, it’s just to show the humanity of us in this one immigrant story, this exile story.”
The film won the Audi- ence Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2016 Gasperilla International Film Festival and is available for sale or to rent on Amazon.
Following the showing of the film, Lynch took part in a question-and-answer session with the audience.
The event concluded with a performance by Ritmo Cache, CSM’s Latin ensemble.
Documentary filmmaker Zuzelin Martin Lynch takes questions from the audience following the showing of her film, “Craving Cuba,” during the College of Southern Maryland’s “Celebrating Cuba” event Tuesday afternoon.
Eileen Abel, the College of Southern Maryland’s vice president for academic affairs, shares pictures she took during an educational trip to Cuba last spring during CSM’s “Celebrating Cuba” event Tuesday afternoon.
The College of Southern Maryland provided a selection of Cuban dishes for its “Celebrating Cuba” event Tuesday afternoon.