KENT, OH (WOIO) - Samantha Ayotte is a Kent State University student and she's among 14 people leaving for Cuba in a couple of days.
"I'm very excited, definitely. A little nervous about getting sunburned. That's about it," Ayotte said.
Most Americans have been prohibited from traveling to the Communist Island nation for 50 years. They're going to be leaving early Sunday morning and coming back next Friday.
"We get to start this semester with a site that is similar in Cleveland and that's kind of getting us familiar with the re-adaptive use of industrial buildings," Ayotte said.
Casey Poe is excited to be going to Cuba too.
"We'll be drawing parallels between Cuba and Cleveland and in them being kind of these industrial port cities which has been pretty interesting. But, I am really excited to have my eyes open to what it's really like down there," said Poe.
Terry Schwarz is one of three Kent State Faculty going with the students.
"We've been told that many of the hotel rooms and meeting spaces are likely to be bugged. So, it is just about being carefully, thoughtful and respectful," Schwarz.
None the less, these students are ready to go to Cuba to visit the Nico Oil refinery and to gather cultural data and other research.
Connor Wollenznen says the students are being bumped from their rooms because President Barack Obama is going to be there at the same time. But he's taking it all in stride.
"Potentially, we're looking at just large urban planning seeing what residential opportunities, shopping, commercial, potentially hotels and stuff like that as well," said Wollenznen.
The influence of the students' visit may not be felt for many years but at least they're getting a chance to make history says Terry Schwarz.
"So, the really exciting part about it is there are not that many American students who've been on the ground in Havana yet," added Schwarz.
Who knows, someday if you visit Cuba, you may stay a hotel or shop in a store based on the research these Kent State students is doing.
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