Meet Our Cuba Resident Director
Michelle Ranieri, Cuba Resident Director
- WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A RESIDENT DIRECTOR?
- Being able to work with students. Being able to see Cuba through another person's eyes keeps everything new and exciting. I used to sit in a cubicle all day and only communicate with people via email. I don't miss it!My own abroad experiences have transformed my life. I love watching others make the same journey.
- HOW DID YOU BECOME A RESIDENT DIRECTOR?
- It’s a dream job! After studying abroad for a semester in Cuba in 2010, doing grad work in Mérida Mexico, and archival research in Sevilla, Spain in 2012, I knew that I had to pursue a career in International Education after graduation!
- WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT CUBA?
- That Cuba is resourceful and industrious, nothing is wasted. It helps remind me to try and be sustainable in everything I do.
- WHAT ARE SOME UNIQUE ASPECTS OF HAVANA AND CUBA?
- The high literacy rate, low crime rate, free education and medical attention in Cuba are unparalleled. Plus, Cuba has some of the warmest most generous people in the world that I have ever had the honor of coming into contact with!
- WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES OF YOUR JOB?
- Waiting! I am a very punctual person in the U.S. but in Cuba everything requires patience. I wait in line for almost everything, sometimes for hours and sometimes without success. There are lines for phone cards, Internet time, groceries and ice cream. One simple errand can turn into a half a day ordeal! When working with students sometimes time is of the essence, especially in an emergency but not everything is always available when you need it.
- TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.
- I studied at the University of Havana when I was an undergrad and because I loved it so much I pursued a master's in Caribbean Studies.
- WHAT IS A VISITOR MUST-SEE IN HAVANA?
- The Malecon. It's where all the locals hang out and you can meet some amazing people.
- To understand that one cannot plan for everything. You can think you are prepared as humanly possible for a study abroad experience but, especially in Cuba, you have to abandon all preconceived notions and preparations and just go with the flow! When the unexpected happens it usually turns out to be the most rewarding experience!
- WHAT IS THE ONE THING STUDENTS SHOULDN'T FORGET TO PACK?
- Sunscreen! I know it takes up room and weight in your luggage but it is difficult to find and expensive when it’s available. Cuba is very hot and very sunny. You don’t want something preventable like a sunburn to ruin your day!
- WHAT IS ONE LITTLE-KNOWN FACT ABOUT CUBA?
- You can drive from the very eastern part of the island to the western point in 12 hours.
- WHAT IS YOUR DREAM VACATION?
- Probably New Zealand or diving in Phuket!