MIT Sloan students in Havana for study tour

Posted at 4:45 PM, Mar 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-21 16:45:58-04

A unique moment in history is also creating a once in a lifetime opportunity for students across the U.S. 

An entire new study program at MIT Sloan is now centered around developing-relations between Cuba and the U.S. 

26 MIT students have been looking forward to the week-long study tour for months and then they learned President Barack Obama was also making the trip to Havana at the same time. 

The acceleration of relations between the two counties is something that these students are not only studying, they are witnessing. 

"I think we're very fortunate that we're kind of at this linchpin moment where we can actually see what it's like to broker these new relations," said Shawn Basak, a student at MIT Sloan.

The MIT Sloan School of Management study tour that brought two dozen students to Cuba is the first of its kind for the institution. It was designed after President Barack Obama announced the U.S. would establish relations with the communist country in 2014. Each student is researching a different topic. 

"We're looking at Cuban music and seeing how with the new economic/political relations can actually be more of a cultural export to the U.S. Other folks are looking at the tobacco industry , the baseball scene," said Basak.

A few plans on the itinerary were postponed because of President Obama's arrival, like Sunday's trip to the U.S. embassy. Other stops on the list, cigar factories, rum factories and museums. These students are taking it all in to report their research when they get back home. 

"Countries aren't creating new relations with other countries every day, every year. The fact that this was a pretty rare moment on the world stage, I think was a once in a lifetime opportunity," added Basak.