Two groups of Ohio State University at Newark students will embark on a trip later this year and next year that hasn't been possible since their grandparents were roughly the same age.

Two groups of Ohio State University at Newark students will embark on a trip later this year and next year that hasn't been possible since their grandparents were roughly the same age.

As part of a four-week course next May called "Cuba: Race, Revolution and Culture," 15 to 25 students will reside with Cuban families in the capital city of Havana and study Cuban culture firsthand. A group of Ohio State theater students is making a trip to Cuba this December.

"This trip will be transformative for our students," said Tiyi Morris, associate professor of African American studies and one of the trip's advisers.

Morris already has made two trips to Cuba to prepare for the students' stay.

"This is part of our effort to diversify our study-abroad options to reflect the world population and our student body, 25 percent of (whom) identify as members of underrepresented groups," she said.

President John F. Kennedy imposed a travel embargo to the island country in 1963, a few years after Fidel Castro seized power. Relations with Cuba have been improving in recent years, however, and in March 2016, President Barack Obama's administration announced that Americans could travel to Cuba for certain educational purposes in tour groups.

Morris said it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students.

"I think everyone is excited about the possibility," she said. "Younger people don't have the historical context, but the mythology and the actuality surrounding the Cuban revolution has inspired people to see what (Cuba) is actually like with their own eyes, to be in those spaces."

Students will analyze the "role of race and culture in the formation of contemporary Cuban politics and national identity," according to the course description, and will explore "Cuba's African roots, resistance and emancipation in Cuba" along with special attention on the role of the arts as a means of resistance to social injustice, according to the university.

Morris said organizing the trip hasn't been as difficult as one would assume. Newark campus Associate Dean Virginia Cope's office coordinated with Ohio State's Office of International Affairs to handle paperwork, such as planning air travel and reviewing safety. They also worked closely with the Copperbridge Foundation, a Miami-based nonprofit that seeks to promote cultural and educational exchange, to help plan the trip.

Morris said her two trips to Cuba in preparation for the students' tour were eye-opening.

"Simply put, it was great," she said. "When I was there in June, it could be (10 p.m.) and you would see people, little kids, hanging out on the streets. I felt very safe. You could sense this strong feeling of community and family. It was very welcoming."

The trip is being planned for May 2017. The application deadline for students is Jan. 4; the course is open to all Ohio State students, but Newark campus students will be given preference.

A program fee of $1,000 is required, which covers airfare, lodgings, program activities, visas, transportation and most meals. Financial-aid funds may be used to cover the cost.

Information sessions on the trip will be held at both the Ohio State main campus in Columbus and the Newark campus this month and in November. More information on the course is available online at go.osu.edu/NewarkCuba.

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