This may be the last weekend for many of us in Havana. After the great closing party, some of us went to the beach and enjoyed the sands and waves one more time.
There have been Hurricane warnings. As the ferocious stage 4 Hurricane Matthew is rocking the Carribeans. However, the Hurricane will not hit Havana. It will pass through East Cuba on Sunday till around Tuesday. People in Santiago and prisoners in Guantanmo have already been evacuated according to news reports. Due to the Hurricane, it has been raining at night and its been a bit more cloudy and cooler in the city, and some lightening, has been blitzing through the sky.
Check out (for information): http://www.cubahurricanes.org/
On Saturday night the ISSEM also hosted the official closing ceremony for the alumni’s at the Gran Teatro. It was a nice event with live music and a three course meal. The alumni danced and sang along to the music and recalled the last two weeks. Kisses and hugs were passed and everybody was happy and hoped to see us all again next year. Emails were exchanged and friendships had been formed.
On Sunday most students were busy studying in the lobby of the Havana Libre. The reality of exams that are a day away was sinking in.
The ICEM conference was held today. This is a very important day for the cuban alumni. Here talks and lectures, on topics such as logistic, applied mathematics and information systems were presented by alumni and professors.
Simultaneously, the incubator had its demo day. The incubator is a co-operation between the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Havana, its an entrepreneurial exchange of mentoring, know how and technology. The incubator is located on the 12 floor, in the economics faculty of the University Havana. Students and professors from all fields of the university of Havana can go and present their Entrepreneurial venture ideas here. Once they have done this the incubator helps them draw up a business plan and mentors them on how to go about realising their business.
This year the incubator presented itself, and 4 groups pitched their business ideas to cuban political officials and potential investors.
It was a very emotional day as the cuban students of the incubator had worked very hard all year round for this day.
In the evening there was the closing event of the ISSEM. It was held at the beautiful venue Casa de Amistad. Pictures were projected and stories of the last week were recalled. Students and professors talked about their time here in Cuba. Reflections and retrospectives were recalled.
After that everybody headed to the Malecon, one last time. Professor Burda stringed some tunes on a guitar. Everybody sang along and the atmosphere was very warm and friendly. People were hugging eachother, and I could tell that friendships had been made that will last for many years to come.
So since it is the weekend, students have some free time to travel and explore Havana.
So what where the students upto?
On Saturday there was a trip to the los Jardines de Hershey. Yes, by Hershey we mean Chocolate Hershey. This trip was organised by ISSEM and students and alumni could take part in excursion.
Also on Saturday some students headed out to the Playa del Este. The ride to the beach is about 20 minutes by taxi and students carpooled together. After, some tanning and sipping on agua de coco Cuban students showed us what Havana’s hip night life is all about.
On Sunday, Cuban and German students all went to the beach again and had a nice chill beach day.
In the evening the ISSEM office team had a wonderful dinner together.
Other students, also used the weekend to travel to towns nearby to Havana . For example Viñales, this is a small town located two hours away from Havana. It is known for its tobacco and cocoa plantations. The panoramic valley scene of the town, resembles a person lying on his/her back.
Classes have now been transferred to the hotel Habana Libre. The transition was smooth, and if students are still not sure where their classes are, check the notice board at the first floor outside the ISSEM office at the Habana Libre. In general, the notice board is full of useful tips and suggestions and information. Students can also pin up their own recommendations and communicate through the board.
In the evening students could participate in a movie night. The movie Strawberry and Chocolate( Fresca y Chocolate) was screened which is a film based on the short story by Senel Paz who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. The movie is set in Havana, and deals with different social phenomena. After that students headed on out to the Malecon for a drink, and to enjoy the vast night life that Havana has to offer.
At 8:00 am a group of students headed out for a bike tour through Havana. I personally perticipated in this tour and i can only recommend it. It is a great way to get to know the city. You can also learn a lot about Havana. Our guide Yasser made the tour very enjoyable and taught us a lot about the city. The tour started with a ride through the lush and green Havana forrest, we then went to the 3rd biggest cemetry in the world that is based in Havana. From there we meandered through the colorful neighbourhoods of the old town, and lastly we biked down the Malecon.
I will write a detailed piece about the bike tour soon. I can,however, only urge anyone that gets the opportunity, to take part in the bike tour.
Our guide Yasser giving us some knowledge about the forrest of Havana.
The bike crew at the Plaza de la Revolucion.
In the evening there was a culture exchange, at Erich’s house. Erich is a German expatriate that has lived in Cuba for the last 20 years, he is a Cuba expert in his own right. Students asked questions and talked to him in the comfort of his home.
For now the ISSEM week has been going very well. It is Friday, and the music is blaring out of the lightly lit bars of Vedado. The streets are full of people that are dressed up, and ready to dance into the weekend. So lets see what this weekend holds for us…