About a year ago I approached William McKeen, chairman of the journalism department at Boston University, about taking photo students to Cuba.
McKeen, whom I had met almost 20 years ago when I took his history of photojournalism class at the University of Florida, said the only way that was going to happen was if I taught a full-semester class. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I agreed to give it a try.
I taught the class this past semester and ended up taking six students to Cuba. Professor Stephen Kinzer and six students from his foreign reporting class joined us.
In Cuba I got to see how well my students performed. The images they created made me feel like a proud papa. Throughout the semester we had discussed photojournalism concepts, history, ethics, and a bit about the history of the island. Once there the students could decide which stories they wanted to work on. Subjects ranged from baseball to making cigars to Judaism.
Each of my students worked on a couple of stories. I also encouraged them to shoot whatever they wanted. They produced a great collection of images, but it was the chance to practice their chosen career in the real world that made the experience unforgettable for them — and for me.