we welcome you to discover


Year 3 – Fall 2019

The humankind series by West Shore Community College focused on the Caribbean island nation of Cuba for Year 3 of the program.  Focusing on lectures, film, live performances and art exhibits and interaction with local schools from around the region, the semester showcased a country known by most, but understood by few.

We welcome you to explore our Year 3, 2019 Recap.

FALL 2019

Lectures & Presentations

Returning to Cuba

September 12, 2019

Presented by Ruth Behar
7pm : Ludington Public Library

Discover Cuba as Ruth talks about some of her own experiences and reflections on the country she calls home. Born in Havana, Ruth is the author & editor of numerous works that focus on the culture of this island nation & her experiences as a Cuban American. 


Ruth Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and is known for her humanistic and literary approach to ethnographic writing. Among her honors, she is a MacArthur Fellow*, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was recently recognized as a “Great Immigrant” by the Carnegie Corporation. Her books include Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba, and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. Born in Havana, Cuba, she is the editor of Bridges to Cuba and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her co-edited book, Women Writing Culture, has become a canonical work in the history of anthropology. Also a creative writer, she is the author of a coming-of-age novel, Lucky Broken Girl, which won the 2018 Pura Belpré Author Award for Latina/Latino literature, and Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé, a bilingual collection of poetry.

Changes in Religion as Cuban Politics Evolve

October 1, 2019

Presented by: Silvia Pedraza
7pm : Ludington Public Library

This is the story of those who stayed in Cuba. Through beautiful slides, discover how people’s religious expression evolved as they lived through more than 50 years of changing politics.


Fidel Castro: Was he David or Goliath? – CNN – 2016
Researcher profile: Sylvia Pedraza highlights refugee struggle. – The Michigan Daily – 2016
A Family Divided – USA Today – 1998
A Life-long Learner – The Michigan Daily – 2010


Silvia Pedraza is Professor of Sociology and American Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She was born and raised in Cuba, from where she immigrated with her family at the age of 12. Her research interests include the sociology of immigration, race, and ethnicity in America, and the sociology of Cuba’s revolution and exodus. Her work seeks to understand the causes and consequences of immigration as a historical process that forms and transforms persons and nations; as well as social revolutions’ rupture with the past and attempt to create a different present.

Artists & Culture in Today’s Cuba

October 30, 2019

Presented by: Yvon Grenier
12:30 pm : WSCC Center Stage Theater &
7 pm : WSCC Center Stage Theater

Explore the artistic realities in a post-Castro Cuba, and how artistic expression has not lived up to the anticipated renaissance many expected.


Grenier examines the delicate balancing acts carried out in 21 st century, post-Castro Cuba by both artists and the government. To get at what’s going on in today’s Cuba regarding artists’ experience of creativity, freedom of expression, recognition, and who controls cultural life, Grenier explores questions such as the following: What 2 kinds of lives do artists in Cuba today lead? How is it like and different from the decades under Castro? What does today’s government want from artists? Is there more or less freedom of expression today? What might be next for artists? For the Cuban government? For ordinary people creating culture?

Changes in Religion as Cuban Politics Evolve

November 7, 2019

Presented by: Elisa Shoenberger
7pm : WSCC Center Stage Theater

Elisa will share how she obtained these posters through special permits from the Cuban government. She’ll discuss the rich visual language of graphic design reflected in posters and the production challenges that designers in Cuba face.


Elisa Shoenberger is a freelance writer, researcher and historian. She has a BS in Latin American history from the University of Chicago, a MA in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MBA with specialization of marketing and operations management from Loyola University. She focused on Chilean socialist comic books for her undergraduate thesis and Cuban poster propaganda for her MA thesis. She traveled to Cuba as a translator in 2011. She has worked in nonprofits since 2008 and worked in the fundraising sector as a fundraising researcher since 2012. She writes about art, books, the law, philanthropy, animals and nature, for a variety of publications. She has written for the Boston Globe, Deadspin, Syfy, Hyperallergic, Book Riot and many others.​

Live & On Stage

The Pedrito Martinez Group

Live Performance at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts

Grammy®-nominated, Pedro Pablo “Pedrito” Martinez was born in Havana, Cuba, Sept 12, 1973. Since settling in New York City in the fall of 1998, Pedrito has recorded or performed with Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, and Sting and has contributed to over 50 albums. The group’s self-titled first album (released by Motema Music), was released October, 2013, was nominated for Grammy, and was chosen among NPR’s Favorite Albums of 2013 and The Boston Globe Critics Top Ten Albums of 2013.

Now Playing

Featured Films

Before Night Falls

October 15, 2019
6pm Snacks & Discussion, 7pm Film : Vogue Theatre in Manistee
Discussion following the film, led by WSCC Prof. Matt Sanderson

The film is based on an autobiography by Cuban writer and playwright Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), an early sympathizer of Fidel Castro but later a critic of Castro and the 1959 revolution. Featuring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp, the movie traces Arenas’ childhood, his move to Havana in the 1960s, his problems with the law for his sexuality and his art, his exodus out of Cuba in 1980, and his death in 1990.

Rethinking Cuban Civil Society: Something Deeper than the Truth

November 12,02019
6pm Snacks/Discussion & 7pm Movie : Vogue Theatre in Manistee
Discussion following the film, led by WSCC Prof. Matt Sanderson

Through interviews with Cuban writers, journalists, bloggers, academics, and musicians, Rethinking Cuban Civil Society examines possibilities in modern day Cuba for forms of citizen engagement and participation that can flourish outside the confines of the communist state. These include for-profit business, unrestricted internet use, freedom of the press, and the celebration of religious, political, and sexual diversity. The film thus helps us reimagine what an engaged Cuban citizenry can look like in the 21st century following the resignation of Fidel Castro and the loosening of the Cuban government’s restrictions on its people. 

in the gallery

Cuban Posters From Politics & Films

Exhibit open October 10 – December 7, 2019
Manierre Dawson Gallery on the WSCC Campus 

Experience the unique visual language and explore the impact of the decades old embargo on the visual language. The exhibition will present movie posters, event posters, and political posters found in Cuba.

Thank You

Thank you for your interest in Cuba, we hope that you will join us for an upcoming lecture soon!

Special Thanks To

Manierre Dawson Gallery

M-TH: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
F : 9 a.m. – 1 p.m
Weekends during performances
on Center Stage Theatre

Contact us

3000 N Stiles Road
Scottville, MI 49454

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