By James Gilbert
WALESKA, Ga – Outside of cigars and missile crisis, what do we really know about Cuba? The Year of Cuba kicked off the new year on Wednesday, February 7th, with their salsa dancing event just in time to inspire everyone’s Latin flame for Valentine’s day. The event took place in the Glasshouse with both students and faculty in attendance. The band was terrific, and everyone had much fun on the dance floor. Even Dr. Roberts and his wife took to the dance floor to teach willing participants how to salsa. Everyone who attended was additionally supplied with a decadent spread of Cuban food and refreshments.
Dr. M. Katrina Smith, assistant professor of psychology, serves as the committee chair for the Year of Cuba. Dr. Smith stated that there are more events to come this spring semester. “On Wednesday, March the 14th, the week after spring break, we are doing a gallery opening at the Fincher Art Center”. Dr. Smith further elaborated that there will be art bought from Cuba, as well as, pictures taken of the beautiful country. Dr. Smith will also be informing all who come about Reinhardt’s international travel programs. This event will take place from 6 – 8 p.m. and give insight into the culture and essence of Cuba while opening to door to talk about future travel plans that will be taking place for the next couple of years. During the month of April, for Spring Day, the Year of Cuba will be hosting a round robin baseball tournament and trivia contest. This event will be a part of the year of Cuba’s fundraising efforts. “We’re bringing together students, faculty, staff, and everyone that wants to play,” says Dr. Smith.
Reinhardt prides itself in being able to present multicultural perspectives and experiences to all who are interested. Dr. Smith stated that this is a part of the Reinhardt culture. “This is something that is going to become more and more apart of Reinhardt.” Reinhardt has hosted their “year of” events for many years. University’s newest initiative – QEP or Quality Enhancement Plan – is a five-year major investment that will be presented in the fall semester. Reinhardt University plans to introduce high impact teaching practices through QEP Examples of high impact teaching practices will be things like studying abroad, research, internships, and other academically rich opportunities that Reinhardt has to offer. “Our close faculty to student contact lets us do uniquely and very well.” Taking place during the summer, students of Reinhardt University, who have signed up, will be traveling to Ireland, as well as Greece. “We are gearing up and just getting started.”
The Year of Cuba is continuing their partnership with the Ball Ground Lions Club, which is an international network of 1.35 million people with the purpose of bringing aid and disaster relief on both global and local levels. The Lions Club branch in Georgia and the Year of Cuba have a joint mission to help the local schools of Walesa, GA to get school supplies and other aid, as well as, to help bring disaster relief to those in Central America who are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Maria. So far, the Year of Cuba has raised about $2,000 through donations and t-shirt sales. “I would really love to double that,” said Dr. Smith. “The community contacts have been made, and we are starting to move forward on that.” Dr. Smith plans to use social media platforms, such as Facebook, to highlight the success of the Year of Cuba.
The next goal of the Year of Cuba, Dr. Smith relayed, will be $3,000. “Once we reach our goal of $3,000 for the community I’m also looking for our international efforts for Puerto Rico, as well”. Dr. Smith continued by saying, “There are still needs that have not been met, and this is our chance to stand up and reach out.” “We’re starting back up this spring, and we really need everybody’s help.” Donations for the Year of Cuba can be placed with Dr. Smith – located at Tarpley 303 – or if Dr. Smith is not in her office, donations can be left with the administrative assistant Nydia Patrick who according to Dr. Smith, “Is the most wonderful person in the world.” Donations can also be placed with Dr. Cheryl Brown or Dr. SimonPeter Gomez located on the middle floor of Tarpley. Also, Year of Cuba t-shirts are on sale for $12. For further updates and to show support, you can follow the Year of Cuba Facebook page.