Lone Star College System invites students, employees and the community to its 14th annual International Education Conference on “¡Cuba!” April 21.

Lone Star College System (LSCS) invites students, employees and the community to its 14th annual International Education Conference on “¡Cuba!”

The conference will be on Friday, April 21, at the LSCS Office Community Building in The Woodlands. Speakers and vendors will present an array of information on Cuban politics, education and culture. Hosts are LSC-Kingwood and LSC-Montgomery.

“Our goal is to provide Lone Star College students, faculty and the surrounding community an opportunity to broaden their perspectives on the arts and sciences from an international perspective,” said Mark Marotto, International Education Committee (IEC) co-chair and chair of the music department at LSC-Montgomery.

The IEC Committee chose this theme because LSCS has made connections to Cuba since travel restrictions were lifted. Since then, there have been two study-abroad trips and an invitation for LSC-Kingwood’s Big Band to perform at the prestigious jazz festival in Havana.

The 14th annual International Education Conference will feature a variety of speakers and exhibitors on April 21.

“The U.S. relationship with Cuba is quickly evolving. As we renegotiate this relationship with our neighbor, it’s important to deepen our understanding of the nation’s politics, culture and history,” Marotto said.

This year’s keynote presenters are Lorenzo Pablo Martínez, an award-winning author from Cuba, and Dr. Jonathan Brown, who will speak on Fidel and Che Guevara’s export of the Cuban Revolution. There will also be a performance by Ernesto Vega, a conservatory-trained clarinetist from Cuba. Additionally, Lloyd Gite, a local connoisseur of Afro-Cuban art, will judge the Student Art Contest.

Martínez will present his memoir, “Cuba Adiós,” which depicts his participation in Operación Pedro Pan, a secretive mass exodus of more than 14,000 children that landed in America between 1960 and 1962, fleeing Castro’s regime. The book was named 2015 Best Biography by the International Latino Book Awards, and was recognized as Outstanding Book by the Houston-based group, Conversing Through Poetry. Among his extensive list of accomplishments, Martínez translated all 12 episodes of “The Second Voyage of the Mimi,” produced by Bank Street College of Education for PBS, and co-edited “The Ginseng Conspiracy,” a mystery novel published by Muse It Up. He has written for The Miami Herald and authored a picture book, “The Ballerina and The Peanut Butter Sandwich.” 

An art contest will be a featured attraction at “¡Cuba!” on April 21.

Vega is a graduate of the Higher Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba. He won first prize at the international jazz competition, “JoJazz,” in Havana. Throughout his career, Vega has performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. He has collaborated with Cuban legends such as Frank Emilio, Chucho Valdés, Bobby Carcasses, Ernan Lopez Nussa, Jorge Reyes and Changuito. The musician has been a part of many musical projects and has performed at numerous international festivals. Vega is considered one of the leading musicians of his generation and one of the finest clarinetists from Cuba.

Brown is a professor at The University of Texas-Austin, where he teaches various history courses such as “The Cuban Revolution.” During his career, he has published four single-authored books: “A Socioeconomic History of Argentina, 1776-1860;” “Oil and Revolution in Mexico;” “Latin America: A Social History of the Colonial Period;” and “A Brief History of Argentina.” Brown’s most recent work, “Cuba's Revolutionary World,” analyzes how the Cuban Revolution changed inter-American relations in the 1960s by exporting both its revolution and its counterrevolution, vastly disrupting the status quo in the Western Hemisphere.

Lorenzo Pablo Martínez, award-winning Cuban author.

Gite, a Houston-based art dealer, has been importing art from Africa for years, and has recently expanded his collection to include art from the African diaspora. He is one of the foremost importers of Afro-Cuban art and will exhibit works from his collection throughout the conference. Visit thegitegallery.com for more information on The Gite Gallery.

“At this conference, attendees will be able to experience Cuba’s vibrant culture while exploring the island’s much-debated politics and history through a combination of performances, presentations and an authentic Cuban lunch,” Marotto said.

In addition to the keynote presenters, there will be an art contest, an international student panel, a student model U.N., and several scholarly presentations by faculty and leading experts. 

Registration is required to attend the International Education Conference. The daylong conference fee is $25 for students and $40 for general admission. A catered lunch is included. The first 100 LSC students to register are free. The price will be higher on the day of the event and space may be limited. Online registration ends April 14. Conference attire is business. 

The LSCS is located at 5000 Research Forest Drive in The Woodlands. For more information, or to register for the International Education Conference, visit www.lonestar.edu/iec.