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The Cuba Project interns and staff

Documentary interns capture their immersion in Cuban culture

Thanks to TigerLily Media, five Jacksonville University interns viewed Cuban culture last spring through both professional and personal lenses.

“Being Ecuadorian, I have a strong interest in learning more about other cultures much like my own,” says Anna Tripp, a senior Marine Science major who provided website design and photo and video documentation and editing for The Cuba Project team. “I knew this internship would require an immense amount of work, time, and discipline but this unique opportunity was a challenge I could never have dreamed of.”

Anna Tripp

Aquarian, the University’s student literary arts magazine, selected one of Tripp’s photos from the trip, “Retrospective,” for its 50th edition. The University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs also decided to display her photo collection, “Colors of Cuba,” in its space.

“It feels incredible to be recognized for my work,” says Anna, who also earned six academic credits for the experience. “I cannot express the amount of gratitude I feel towards JU for showing me so much support in my work as an artist and an academic scholar.”

TigerLily Media initiated The Cuba Project almost 14 years ago. The University partnered with TigerLily in 2017 to provide students with a multimedia and documentary film project internship to experience and document Cuba and its culture.

Because the University also participates with the organization Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre (FANJ) to exchange educational information on sustainability and culture between the United States and Cuba, the internship project offered a natural fit. University Cuba Scholar in Residence Vanessa K. Harper and Professor Julie Brannon serve as internship supervisors.

D'ayn Sayre

“Experiences can change you if you have an open mind,” said D’Ayn Sayre, a senior English major who served as content editor, photographer and production assistant. “The fact that Cubans are so resilient and resourceful is astounding to me and it’s really taught me a lot of gratitude that I can’t completely express.”

Interns immersed themselves in Cuban environmental initiatives during their eight-day visit in Cuba, including visiting FANJ, where they observed sustainability projects. Throughout it all, the student-interns concentrated on documenting their experiences through videos, photos and writing.

Hannah Shami

“We all collaborated on the creative concept before leaving for Cuba and took personal photos while we were there,” said Hannah Shami, who is now a production assistant at TigerLily Media and 2019 Jacksonville University alumna. “When we came back, the post-production stage was kick-started, and I worked closely with another intern throughout that process.”  

Shami presented her work at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and won a Florida Associated Press Broadcasters (FAPB) award for her photo essay, “Cuba: Filtered Through My Lens.”

“I think they all deserve awards for everything they did,” said Andrew Fallon, Creative Director at TigerLily Media and mentor to interns working on The Cuba Project. “Having seen their efforts first-hand, they really dedicated themselves to sharing a unique story of their experience in Cuba.”

By Christina Sumpter