Reflections on Cuba

By Quanece Williams

Cuba is a country that is stigmatized with being a communist country, in which the rights of citizens are suppressed. However, apart from that, it is a country that is often overlooked when learning about world history. Thus, the presentation of Cuban Educator Ariel Dacal Díaz was extremely informative. Diaz not only discussed the advantages and the shortcomings of the country as a whole, he also analyzed the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States.

Cuban Educator Ariel Ducal Diaz speaks to the audience with help from his translator.

Díaz’s history of the country was vital and ranged from topics including the social system, the economic system, sports, political participation, democratization, and bilateral Cuba-U.S. relations. Cuba’s social system is particularly interesting because although the country is primarily poor, education and health care are free and universal. Furthermore, both are offered to every citizen from birth to death. Diaz declared this one of the country’s greatest attributes because according to him, “in many countries health care, housing, and education are commercializing but it should be a human right”.

The complex economic system was then analyzed and a timeline was provided to explain the current system that is implemented today. He shared that in 1959, Cuba had 80% of its market dominated by the U.S. and then in 1989, 85% of Cuba’s market was connected to the economy of the Soviet Union, which would eventually dissolve, leaving the country economically crippled. This significantly shaped their economic system, as illustrated in the policy that is currently implemented in regard to foreign investment, which establishes the limits (30%) of foreign capital investment.

An entertaining part of his presentation was when Diaz went into depth on the role of sports in their society. He stated that the country decided that sports are not a commodity, although the country is small and poor. He was also excited to share that the country placed 5th in the Olympics in 1992. The countries economy is intrinsically linked to the sports world because equipment was often not provided so athletes used their teammates as weights. Additionally, the poor economy is also the motivation for sports players to leave the country in search for a contract that will provide the most benefits, which further exacerbates the economic status of the country.

Political participation, one of the tenets of democracy, was another salient issue Diaz examined. He stated that the MLK Center seeks to educate the polity and outlined the requirements for participation as followed: (1) that persons want to participate (2) that people can participate (3) that people know how to participate. In addition, he shared that the Cuban culture is now dependent upon the government because of communism. Diaz also shared his notion of democracy and stated that it needs to be grassroots and comprehensible. Other tenets for democracy outlined by Diaz are the acknowledgment of another person’s rights and that democracy will not occur with just one person. Additionally, he shared that democracy must alter the perception of liberty and quoted “I am free if you are free”, highlighting that one individuals liberty is conditioned on another’s liberty (a valuable lesson for the U.S. to learn especially with the views on minorities).

The last issue important issue that was discussed was the U.S., as Cuba’s largest neighbor, exerting dominance in their country. He introduced the analogy of the levee that was intended to provide support in New Orleans with Katrina, and questioned how strong the country was to withstand the flood of the United States.

Overall, the presentation was useful because it provided me with information about the country that I was unfamiliar with. I was unaware that an embassy was opened in D.C., as well as Havana and still believed that the relationship between both countries was tenuous. However, after attending the presentation I realize as Diaz stated, “Cuba is not a paradise but Cuba is not hell”.


ECSU Professors Martin Mendoza-Botelho and Ricardo Perez (Sociology) pose with the Cuban guest Ariel Ducal Diaz (middle) and his translator.


Eastern Students visit Connecticut’s Supreme Court

Professor Broscious and the students from PSC 341 Judicial Process visited the Connecticut State Supreme Court in Hartford on October 15, 2015.  The class observed proceedings in two cases: State of Connecticut v. Kenneth Jamison and Standard Oil of CT, Inc. v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act. The purpose of this trip was to allow students to experience the judicial process in practice in the state’s highest court.

Eastern students at the majestic entrance of the Connecticut State Supreme Court in Hartford

After the observing oral arguments, the class returned to Eastern for lunch and discussion.  Discussion focused on unpacking the arguments made by the attorneys, evaluating the questions posed by the justices, and differentiating between the processes of a trial court and an appellate court.

Student Comments:

This trip gave me insight on details of the courts I could never have learned from books, such as the importance of confidence and presentation. It was a great experience. Emilio Estrella

I thought it was really cool I really liked getting see all that we keep reading about in action. I also really like to get to see the attorneys and justices as people. We read about lawyers and we see them in movies but in person, they got nervous, fumbled their words, and say uhh..uhh…  Benjamin Brady

The trip to the Supreme Court was not what I expected. I thought more people showed up to hear the proceedings like in a regular trial without the jury. I was surprised by the level of interaction by some of the justices with the attorneys, I didn’t think they would have interacted as much as they did. Crystal Mayo

The trip to the CT Supreme Court was awesome. It was educational and fun at the same time, especially the political and law debates that stemmed from it on the ride home. All in all it was great! Jordan True

Going to the Supreme Court was an enjoyable experience, it was my first opportunity to be inside our Supreme Court building. The paintings on the walls, and the architecture was very interesting to see, and listening to the lawyers plead their cases reminded me of how excited I am to go to law school next year.  Raagan Wicken

I really liked the trip overall but what I liked the most was that for someone who has never been to court it was a very informational trip, being able to see it in person was much easier to put together than just learning about it! The way the court worked was very interesting to see, it’s different than seeing a court proceeding on television or like I said before learning about it through a textbook.  Shafaq Chaudhry

Life After Eastern

By Kevin Schaffner (Class of 2014)

Polisci alumnus Kevin Schaffner

After graduating back in May 2015, I thought I was going to immediately find a great job. Heck, why wouldn’t I? I had years of military experience, had two internships under my belt, and had been working in financial aid for two years. The reality is, at least it was for me, that it is hard to find a decent job with only a bachelor’s. I spent my entire summer applying, interviewing, following up, and getting rejected. Needless to say, my summer after graduation wasn’t that great. However, there was light at the end of tunnel.

With money quickly running out I knew I had to do something fast. I contemplated going back to ECSU for another degree and reap the benefits of my GI Bill but I knew that would just be a waste. Then a good friend of mine recommended that I apply to the Masters of Public Administration Program at the University of Connecticut. So in the final hour I applied and shortly after I was graciously admitted into the program. To date, applying and attending the MPA Program at UCONN has been the best decision I have ever made. Here are a few reasons why I love the program and why you should think about applying.

  1. It is a ranked Public Administration Program at one of the best public universities in the country. Not only is this a ranked program but it is also intentionally small. The faculty and administrators focus on offering the best education to students so that when students graduate, they represent the MPA Program in their workplace. This has clearly worked since many agencies hire directly from the program and the most recent graduating class has a 100% employment rate in positions related to the field.
  2. The program works directly with many agencies and businesses around the state to provide paid internships which offer a generous stipend and credits. Also, second year students who are interning are eligible to receive a tuition waiver. The purpose of internship program is to give higher level work experience to students at well-known agencies and businesses. I am currently taking advantage of this program and am interning at Newington Public Schools as a Communications Specialist. I am in charge of generating positive press about the school district and love every moment of it.
  3. The course schedule and course load per class are extremely manageable. I always feared graduate school was going to be too advanced for me, but honestly I am finding my current work load much more manageable than in my undergrad. This is primarily because I typically have one class a day and the courses are applicable to what I intend to do after graduation. Ideally I would like to work for an agency that works in either transportation or foreign policy.

Currently there are not many ECSU Political Science graduates in the MPA Program and I do not understand why. Eastern’s Political Science Department does an excellent job preparing students for the MPA program. The quantitative and qualitative courses do a wonderful job preparing students for the analytical portion of the MPA program. Also the writing intensive courses at Eastern gave me a solid background in academic writing which will help me when writing studies and memorandums. From what I have seen, Eastern’s Political Science Department better prepares students for the MPA Program than UCONN’s Political Science department.

This opportunity has given me a direct path to my dream of becoming a public servant and I can finally see my end goal in sight. The contrast between who I was during the summer while looking for a job, and who I am now is almost indistinguishable. If you are not sure what you are going to do after graduation, I highly recommend you apply to the UCONN MPA Program. This has been the best decision of my life and I’m sure it will be yours too!

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at


My experience with study abroad, rethinking the future by visiting the past in Eastern Europe

By Quanece Williams

Participation in a study abroad program was an opportunity that I had often heard about, yet dismissed due to my stringent academic requirements as a double major. Therefore, when I learned of the Global Field Course being offered for the Summer 2015 session by former U.S. diplomat and Eastern professor Cesar Beltran, I was eager to receive more information. The course, titled “The Nazi Aftermath in Central Europe: History, Media, and the Holocaust”, exposed myself and four other Eastern students from various academic disciplines to the cultural, political, and religious climate in Poland, Austria, and Hungary and was an experience that I will never forget.

Enjoying a sunny afternoon with Professor Beltran (center, I am the first one on the left)

Poland, the first country that the group visited, was perhaps the most stimulating to me because of its historical relevance. The group visited the Warsaw Uprising monument that the former chancellor of Germany, Willy Brandt, symbolically kneeled at. This monument was so significant to the Polish population because it symbolized accountability by the Germans for the atrocities committed in WWII. The group also toured Mila 18, a bunker in which Jewish resistance groups courageously fought Nazi soldiers during German occupied Poland. In addition, the group visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was extremely saddening. While our time in the concentration camp was heart wrenching, it allowed me to further understand the brutal and gruesome conditions in which 1.1 million Jews experienced before being senselessly executed.

One of the most enjoyable experiences in Poland was the visit to the Community of Democracies. This opportunity was truly invaluable to me as a political science student because the organization’s mission to spread democracy was examined.  Additionally, the discourse between the officials and the students was interesting, as the principles of democracy such as political participation, accountability, and transparency were explored. The visit to the U.S. embassy was also an activity that was exciting. I was truly shocked to uncover the extensive relationship the United States seeks to establish with Poland by use of the media.

Although our stay in Austria was rather short compared to our time in Poland and Hungary, the group had an opportunity to visit the Centropa. This was perhaps the most significant activity to me because of the organization’s desire to preserve Jewish life by conducting interviews of individuals who lived through the Holocaust. Our time there allowed us to understand the way in which interviews are facilitated and their usefulness.  The group was also given a substantial amount of leisure time in Vienna, which allowed us to visit the Freud museum. The museum was interesting because it also serves as the former residency where Freud made numerous psychological discoveries.

A candid shot of our travel group.

In Hungary, the group received a lecture from a professor at McDaniel College. This lecture was extremely vital to my understanding of Hungary’s political climate because we were able to understand the way in which Prime Minister Viktor Orban exercises power. It is Orban’s control over Fidesz, the “Hungarian Civic Party”, that allowed me to examine that political corruption is much more severe in Hungary than in the United States. The party not only redistributed the country in order to secure their success in the future, it changed the constitution when they received 2/3 of the vote in 2010 in order to maintain their political power and to exert their dominance.

Overall, the course “The Nazi Aftermath in Central Europe: History, Media, and the Holocaust” was life changing. The opportunity to analyze the world in a lens that does not reflect the American agenda was very rewarding. I was able to analyze the rich history, language, and cultures of three countries in a way that allows me to better understand Central Europe.

Polisci students join ECSU sponsored visit to Eastern Europe

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Communication Department carried out a Global Field Course May 14-31, 2015, that utilized a sweepingly interdisciplinary approach to analyze the communication environment prevailing in today’s Central Europe. The GFC tour (COM 471) was entitled “The Nazi Aftermath in Central Europe: History, the Media and the Holocaust and included Warsaw and Krakow in Poland; Vienna, Austria; and Budapest, Hungary.  GFC programs focused on the historic, political, economic and cultural elements of the communication milieu, with highlights that included lectures and meetings with professors and students at Krakow’s prestigious Jagiellonian university, briefings with U.S. Embassy officials in Warsaw and Budapest, research work sessions at Vienna’s Centropa Institute and Budapest’s Central European University Library, and a literary dinner with World War II “Enigma code breaker” historian Tessa Dunlop. The tour also allowed participants the opportunity to explore Central Europe’s numerous and varied touristic and cultural sites, such as Warsaw’s newly-opened Polin Polish History Museum, Krakow’s royal Wawel Castle, Vienna’s opulent Imperial Ring, Budapest’s rich Castle District, and the odious Holocaust  concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The travelers included polisci students Quanece Williams and Tess Candler.

PSP&G students present their work at the CREATE conference

The CREATE Conference – Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern, will run this Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, April 17-18. Among the 170 students presenting their work are our own political science, philosophy and geography (PSP&G) students: Matthew Hicks, Je’Quana Orr, Harrison McNair and Alexander Zacharie. Come and support them if you can!


Additional information and the program can be found at: or click here for the CREATE Program