A Cuban in America

Dr. Matos shows USAC studens around Old Havana.
Dr. Matos shows USAC students around Old Havana.

As academic coordinator and a professor on the USAC Havana (“La Habana”) program, Dr. José A. Matos often helps American students through the exciting (and sometimes bewildering) process of spending in depth time studying and living in Cuba. This semester, he had the opportunity to reverse roles as he came to the United States to study in a month-long intensive English program at the University of Nevada.

A Cuban native, his PhD is in philosophy and he is currently a full-time professor and researcher at Universidad de La Habana, where he conducts important research in ethnology. He has been invited as a visiting lecturer to several universities in Latin America. He is a member of the Scientific Board of Directors of Casa de África in Havana.

What have you enjoyed about your stay here?

My experience as a student and the beauty and safety of Reno. I have been surprised and have enjoyed the quality of the teaching at the university.

Have you enjoyed being a student again?

Yes, I enjoyed it. And maybe it helped me to better understand my own students. This experience will allow me to work with greater sensitivity and professionalism with the USAC students in Cuba.

What have you observed about American students and how does that compare to Cuban university students?

There is not much difference. Students in any country assume the psychology of the student. However, I am impressed by the level and quality of education, and the use of technology in teaching at the University of Nevada.

I will miss my friends here at the university and in the USAC office when I go home!

Dr. Matos (left) with other USAC staff in Havana.
Dr. Matos (left) with other USAC staff in Havana.

How are the latest changes in Cuban-American relations perceived in Cuba?

The subject does not dominate, but improvements in the relations between our two countries are foreseen and that seems to me to be very positive.

What do you think Americans would be most surprised to learn about life today in Cuba? 

I believe that the American people want to know more about Cuba as we are neighboring countries. They will be able to appreciate the cultural and social wealth of my country.

What are some of the unique opportunities USAC students have when they come and study in Cuba?

As a USAC student in Cuba, you will have the opportunity to interrelate with Cuban students, discover the daily life, and above all will have the opportunity to communicate and learn other cultural codes.

What has been most enjoyable or satisfying as you have worked with USAC students in Cuba?

I like working with students and sharing their new experiences. I believe that it enriches me personally. What young people learn on the program facilitates extends their vision of the world, and on the life. I believe that they will never forget the experience of visiting Cuba.

What to learn more about what USAC offers in Cuba? Visit here.