A group of Fordham alumni traveled to the Caribbean for a music-focused tour of Cuba in late March. Joined by Fordham faculty and administrators, the group saw live music performances, dropped in on dance classes, visited a cigar factory, and explored the farming town of Viñales.

The trip was co-led by Mark Naison, Ph.D., professor of history and African American history.

In the 48 years Naison has taught at Fordham, music has played a large part in the way he teaches history. So it should come as no surprise that he helped develop a tour to explore the musical traditions of Cuba.

Trustee Emeritus John Wilcha, GABELLI '64, with Mark Naison in Havana
Trustee Emeritus John Wilcha, GABELLI ’64, with Mark Naison in Havana

The idea for the trip, offered through the Office of Alumni Relations travel program, came about after Naison went on a guided tour of Cuba in 2017 and left wanting to know more about the Afro-Cuban music he heard on the streets. He worked with Shannon Hirrel Quinn, associate director of Alumni Relations, to make the “Exploring Havana’s Music and Afro-Cuban Traditions” trip a reality.

“The result was everything I dreamed of exploring and experiencing,” said Naison.

The following photos were taken by Naison; Melissa Castillo Planas, GSAS ‘11, an assistant professor of English at Lehman College; and Rafael Zapata, chief diversity officer at Fordham.

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Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.