Tag Archives: Cuba

Penn Alumni Travel: Cuba Part 1

Author: Emilie C. K. LaRosa

This year Penn Alumni Travel went somewhere we haven’t gone to in over a decade: Cuba. Cuba has long been off the travel menu for most United States citizens, but, in 2011, certain groups could again travel to Cuba under a specific “people-to-people” license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Penn Alumni Travel received its People to People license last summer, and immediately over 40 Penn alumni and friends signed up to join one of two Cuba departures last month.

Penn Alumni and friends on the first Cuba departure. We’re excited to visit Hemingway’s Cuban retreat.

Penn Alumni and friends on the first Cuba departure. We’re excited to visit Hemingway’s Cuban retreat.

Traveling on a People to People itinerary is a little different from your typical overseas trip. Every day must be filled with meaningful exchanges with the Cuban locals. This means most hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. are filled with visits to museums, artists’ studios, and other local places of interest. We also had lectures with historians, experts in Cuban agriculture, and representatives from the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, and even visited the Cuban Rap Agency. After a lively discussion at the rap agency, we were treated to an impromptu performance.

Conversations in a graphic art studio in Cienfuegos, Cuba.

Conversations in a graphic art studio in Cienfuegos, Cuba.

Here we met with the Cuban Rap Agency in Havana.

Here we met with the Cuban Rap Agency in Havana.

Luckily our alumni are used to a full schedule filled with educational offerings, and they took the busy schedule in stride. One of my favorite moments of the trip was the private classical guitar concert in the Ceramics Museum of Havana. After a tour from the museum director, we all filtered into the museum’s beautiful interior courtyard and listened while classical guitarist Luis Manuel Molina played several songs. From the first note, it was clear Molina was a world-class musician, and he was playing just for us! Truly a superb ending to a busy day.

Luis Manuel Molina plays classical guitar for Penn Alumni Travel.

Luis Manuel Molina plays classical guitar for Penn Alumni Travel.

My second favorite moment? The farewell dinner in a Havana paladar (a restaurant run out of a family home). Not only was the food delicious and the ambiance unique, but by the end of the meal song had broken out, and we ended the trip with a hearty rendition of “The Red and the Blue” and “Drink a Highball.”

I’ll leave this blog entry here. As I mentioned, we had two Cuba departures each with a faculty and a staff host, and so you can expect three more Cuba blog entries after mine. But Cuba is such a unique and interesting destination that 100 blog entries would not do it justice. Enjoy the rest of the tour!

The Quaker in Trinidad. He loved all the bold colors!

The Quaker in Trinidad. He loved all the bold colors!

[Penn Alumni Travel will be returning to Cuba in 2015. Please email Emilie C. K. LaRosa at emiliek@upenn.edu to be added to a priority reservation list.]

 

 

 

 

 

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Lunch-Time Learning

Author: Emilie C. K. LaRosa

This fall, use your lunch break (or your coffee break) to learn something new and interesting. Penn Alumni Office Hours is offering six great webinars on topics as varied as Burma, self control, and the benefits of pet ownership from renowned Penn faculty members. The best part? They’re all free! The second best part? They’re easy to access; it’s as simple as clicking on a web link. No special software, hardware, or downloads required.

Learn more about our Office Hours online webinar series here or check out our six sessions below. Registration for all webinars is required.

Penn Professor Carol Muller

Penn Professor Carol Muller

Teaching World Music Using New Technology (October 22, 2013 at 3 p.m. EST) With Penn Professor Carol Muller. This webinar will discuss the advantages and limitations of using new technologies–specifically online learning platform for teaching about music of the worlds peoples. This will include classes for conventional Penn students and those in MOOC (massively open online courses) style. You will hear a sampling of the music that students hear in Muller’s classes, from pygmy “hoots” to Australian aboriginal chanting, and think about how new technologies are reshaping the way we access knowledge from around the world.

Lisa and George travel through Burma.

Lisa and George travel through Burma.

Explore Exotic Burma (October 23, 2013 at 3 p.m. EST)  With Lisa Ellen Niver (C’89) and her husband George Rajna, founders of We Said Go Travel. Myanmar holds a special place in the hearts of Lisa and George. They met online because Lisa told George, “The Shwedagon Pagoda is my favorite place on the planet.”  Join them for a webinar on the highlights of this unique and unspoiled land. [Penn Alumni Travel will be visiting Myanmar in November 2014. Click here for more information.]

Amazing Machu Picchu in Peru.

Amazing Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Art and Culture of Peru (October 30, 2013 at 12 p.m. EST) With Larry Silver, the Farquhar Professor of Art History. Professor Silver will discuss the arts and culture of Peru and its extraordinary monument Machu Picchu. [Penn Alumni Travel will be visiting Peru and the Amazon in 2014. Click here for more information.]

Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman

Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman

The Science of Self Control (November 6, 2013 at 12 p.m. EST) With Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman. The obesity epidemic is just one example of a major societal problem that is driven in large part by self-control failures.  Other examples include under-saving for retirement, under-utilization of preventive medical care, and under-investing in education.  This talk will provide a short overview of past research on self-control as well as findings from a new branch of psychology and economics that are being used to help policy makers and individuals reduce the incidence of self-control failures.

Could these little pups increase your life expectancy?

Could these little pups increase your life expectancy?

The Effects of Pet Ownership (Is owning a pet healthy?) (December 3, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.) With Penn Vet Professor James Serpell. More than 30 years ago, the results of a single landmark study appeared to indicate that pet owners were more likely to survive for one year following a heart attack than non-owners. In the ensuing years, continued research has elaborated and expanded upon those original findings, as well as shedding light on some possible mechanisms that could account for the salutary effects of pet ownership on people. This presentation will provide an overview of this developing field and its implications.

Vintage cars in Cuba.

Vintage cars in Cuba.

The Art and Culture of Cuba (December 4, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.) With Penn Professor Ezekiel Dixon-Roman. Professor Dixon-Roman will discuss the history, culture, and economics of the Communist-run island nation of Cuba.

To register for any of these great webinars, simply click on the webinar’s title to be directed to the free registration page.

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Filed under Alumni Benefits, Alumnni Education, Emilie, Penn Alumni Travel, Penn Vet, Travel, Wharton

The Franklin Flyers

Author: Emilie Kretschmar LaRosa

Penn Alumni Travel is launching a new program: The Franklin Flyers. The Franklin Flyers is our brand new frequent traveler program, and a way for us to show our appreciation to all our loyal Penn Alumni passengers. Now, when you travel with Penn, you automatically earn credit towards great gifts and benefits.

Official Franklin Flyer kite pin. Looks great on blazers, cardigans, camera bags, and other accessories!

Official Franklin Flyer kite pin. Looks great on blazers, cardigans, camera bags, and other accessories!

There are three levels: Silver (2-4 trips), Gold (5-7 trips), and Platinum (8 or more trips). As soon as you take your second trip with us ,you are enrolled in the Silver level and are sent a Franklin Flyer kite pin and a handy travel reading light. Each level has its own set of great travel gifts concluding with a beautiful and useful Penn Alumni Travel carry-on bag at the Platinum level.

Silver level travel reading light. We love how compact and flexible it is.

Silver level travel reading light. We love how compact and flexible it is. Join us on 2 or more trips and this could be yours!

The perfect travel bag. Platinum level Franklin Flyers will benefit from this great carry-on tote.

The perfect travel bag. Platinum level Franklin Flyers will benefit from this great carry-on tote.

You can also earn rewards by referring friends to our program. If a referred friend ends up taking one of our fantastic tours, the referrer earns a $100 credit towards a future trip and the friend earns a $50 credit. Not a bad deal!

With so many travel options available today, we truly appreciate the support of our alumni who continue to book our trips year after year. One of the most special things about a Penn Alumni Travel trip is the people you’ll meet. The camaraderie of Penn alumni coming together and exploring the world is unique and special, and I hope the Franklin Flyers will encourage more people to join us. The year’s not over. You can still book a 2013 tour with us, and soon we will be announcing our 2014 schedule.  A little sneak peak for all you bloggers- 2014 will include trips to:

  • Cuba – January 2014
  • Antarctica – February 2014
  • The Galapagos – September 2014
  • Myanmar – November 2014
  • And 20 other fantastic destinations! Stay tuned to our website and e-newsletter for details.

If you’re interested in any of the trips above, shoot me an email at emiliek@upenn.edu and we’ll add you to a priority mailing list.

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