Recent Voyages

Panama, Cuba and the Caribbean: An Emerging Hub in a Changing Region

In December 2012, the Global Stewards Institute (GSI) and its academic partner UC Riverside sent 20 Global Leadership Program students on Panama, Cuba and the Caribbean: An Emerging Hub in a Changing Region, a three week program designed to develop future global leaders using the UN Millennium Development Goals and encouraging participants to seek global solutions.

The experiential program for post-graduate students and adult learners included at-sea course work, in-port field experiences and a service project with a local Rotary chapter at an international NGO providing homes for orphans in Panama. Meeting leaders in Colombia, Cuba and Panama and representatives from the United Nations provided the group with valuable insights about indigenous rights, climate change and international relations.

The study/travel program afforded participants an opportunity to demonstrate their own style of leadership and expertise. GSI International Advisor, Rebecca Westerfield led an engaged discussion on legal structures and international conflict negotiations. Robert Schmidt, a former US State Dept. Cultural Attaché to Colombia told hair-raising tales of his experiences during his two tours of duty and provided insights into the nation’s 25-year conflict.

Patricia Masters, Ph.D, and GSI’s VP of Academic Affairs, taught the program’s core course on global leadership, emphasizing sustainability and social responsibility. Speakers from the UN Environmental Program and UNICEF reported on their work in the Caribbean region and provided the results of the recent Rio+20 Summit including initiatives on women and children’s health and safety.

In Colombia, the GSI group had the opportunity to meet with indigenous leaders from the Kokui and Wayuu tribes who addressed eco-tourism and sustainable development. The in-port experiences at the Port of Cartagena and the Panama Canal raised the “curtain” on international trade and security. And a meeting with the founder of a successful organic farm in Cuba taught the group about entrepreneurship and tenacity in the midst of local environmental and political challenges.

The Global Stewards Institute’s international advisory council helped to attract a multicultural team of professors, scholars and participants to enhance the program and provide a complement of real world experiences. Erik Wong, a talented filmmaker accompanied the group and is creating a documentary of the December program to attract sponsors and grants and to recruit students.

GSI president, Thea Bellos reported that the organization is hoping to transform the 3-unit course on Global Leadership into a semester-long certificate program through UCR. The Academic Senate has already approved several of the courses. Bellos said, “We believe that through international interaction, we can transform today’s graduate students into tomorrow’s global leaders.”


December 15, 2012 – January 5, 2013

Orientation in Panama: Dec 15
Arrive at City of Knowledge, Panama City. Depart for Port of Colon on Dec 16 for voyage. Guest speaker, Margarita Astralaga, Reg. Director of UNEP.

Sea Program: Dec 16-23
7-day voyage in the southern Caribbean: Colon, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bonaire & Aruba. Visits to UNESCO World Heritage site in Old Cartagena, Port of Cartagena and the Butterfly Farm-Aruba. Guest speakers from ProExport Colombia, indigenous tribal leaders from the Kokui and Wayuu tribes, a restoration specialist from the Old City of Santa Marta, Director of the Global Heritige Fund, and the Captain of the Grandeur of the Seas.

Cuba Land Program: Dec 23 – Jan 1
Flight to Havana, 9-day itinerary. Meetings at Las Terrazas, a UN bio-diversity site and eco-village, the National Botanical Gardens, Community Project Murealenandom and the Metropolitano Park Community Project. Guest speakers from the Cuban National Center for Sexual Eduacation (CENESEX), UPCD Organiponico Vivero Alamar and Dr. Manuel Yepe, a leading economist and scholar based in Havana.

Panama Land Program: Jan 1-5
Flight to Panama, 5-day residency at the City of Knowledge. Guest speakers from the City of Knowledge, CATHALAC, UNICEF, Panama Canal Authority and the COK Business Accelerator. Service project with local Rotary Club at SOS Children’s Villages Internation in Panama City.