When 11 Adelphi students traveled to Cuba in January 2016, Thomas Gonzalez, a transfer from McDaniel College, was excited to be among them.

When 11 Adelphi students traveled to Cuba during the January 2016 intersession, Thomas Gonzalez, a transfer from McDaniel College, was excited to be among them—because, “as Americans, we know so little of what Cuba is like.”

Gonzalez—a communications major with a focus in film who transferred from McDaniel in Fall 2013 and hopes to eventually become a producer and director—was also excited about the opportunity for field experience.

After all, they were among the first Americans to visit the island nation after the Obama administration’s mid- 2015 decision to reestablish diplomatic relations after five decades.

For Gonzalez, the highlight came on his last full day in Cuba, when “I spent an afternoon running through the streets of Havana with teenagers from the parkour community.” Parkour involves negotiating obstacles by climbing, jumping and acrobatics in an urban setting, similar to the daredevil foot chase that opened the James Bond film Casino Royale.

While on a bus headed for dinner on day one in Havana, they had seen the teens and Assistant Professor John Drew said they would make “an awesome story for our website,” Gonzalez said. “Unfortunately, as the trip went on, we did not see them again,” he added, “and I accepted the fact that we weren’t going to be able to get the story.”

Then on that last evening, he again spotted the parkour kids. “Not wanting to miss this opportunity,” he said, “I went to Professor Drew and suggested we let the bus go…so we could get this story. He immediately agreed and we went off to get the footage. Once Drew explained to the teenagers what we were doing, they put on a show for us and brought us to some of their favorite spots.”

That student-faculty collaboration also “turned out to be an awesome learning experience since Professor Drew was right behind me the entire time, providing pointers on different types of shots I could get and how to make them better,” Gonzalez explained. Formed in Spring 2013, Adelphi offers the Parkour and Freerunning Club among its 80-plus student clubs and organizations. When asked what he gained from the total experience, he said, “It may be a cliché but I came back a different person. I learned a lot about myself and became proud of my Latino heritage. Also, for the first time, I felt like I was on the right career track and that working with cameras is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Gonzalez, who plans to earn his bachelor’s in Fall 2016, has applied to production internships “to get my foot in the door. My ultimate career goal is to become a director and produce my own television shows and/or movies.”

For further information, please contact:

Department of Communications
Blodgett Hall Room 113
p – 516.877.4905

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