Adjunct Professor Kerry Tripp with members of the Cuban judiciary, the director of a Cuban law collective, her guide Hector, and her son Tommy during a Havana site visit in March 2017

June 1, 2017

Family Science Adjunct Professor Kerry Tripp and doctoral student Allyson Pakstis are leading 18 undergraduate and graduate students on an eight-day trip to Cuba as part of the initial offering of the FMSC class: Impacts of Socialized Family Law, Public Health and Poverty on the Cuban Family. The group departed for Havana on May 31 and will return June 8.

The class focuses on the Cuban family through the lens of comparative family law and public health, while examining the impact of poverty and the U.S. embargo against Cuba. The group will travel as goodwill ambassadors from the U.S. to Cuba on a listening and thinking tour. Students will develop a better understanding of the Cuban family and the ability to analyze Cuba’s public health and legal systems. Students have joined the class from the family science, public health science, community health, government, and communication departments. Professor Tripp notes that the mix of pre-law and professional public health students complements the course’s comparative family law and public health focus.

The four-credit class began May 22 with a weeklong curriculum including readings and discussion of Cuban history and the revolution. Modules covered the U.S. and Cuban court systems and comparative family law and policy. Students examined two case studies, including Elian Gonzales, the young Cuban refugee who became the center of international attention, and Cuba’s treatment of HIV patients in its medical system and society. While in Cuba, students will visit a museum of Afro-Cuban slave history and culture, discuss healthcare and pharmaceutical development at Cuba’s School of Medical Sciences, tour a sustainable community in a designated Biosphere Reserve, meet with sex and family planning educators, and discuss criminal, civil and family law with members of the Cuban Society of Civil and Family Law. Upon returning, students will cap their final studies with a week of coursework that includes discussion, travel journals, and reflection papers.

Professor Tripp notes that the class has generated significant interest and has been approved for three years, including direct scholarship support through SPH Dean Boris Lushniak’s office. Tripp notes that the class has already impacted the work of her assistant, PhD student Allyson Pakstis, who is conducting research on Operation Peter Pan, the mass exodus of thousands of unaccompanied Cuban children to the U.S. from 1960 to 1962. Many have subsequently lived in the U.S., not seeing their families again until President Obama opened relations with Cuba. More information about the class and trip can be found here.

While in Cuba the group will be posting media and comments on their Twitter page. They can be followed @UMDCuba2017

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Kerry W. Tripp