Elena Key / Staff Writer
FIU’s CasaCuba initiative recently announced plans for the university’s first Cuban cultural center on the Modesto Madique campus, a $35 million project.
The 57,000 square foot facility will be a multidisciplinary platform for scholars and artists to illuminate unique perspectives of Cubans and the greater diaspora.
“For me, it represents an incredible honor and responsibility to make sure that everything… we preserve for future generations is told in a way that showcases our story, our heritage as our best,” said Maria Carla Chicuén, executive director of CasaCuba.
The center will also represent a new home for University research and lectures on Cuba, including the already existing Cuban Research Institute and over 70 multicultural courses, according to Chicuén.
“We want the initiative to be somewhere you can bring your family or friends, where you might come for a poetry reading, but stay for a course on the history of Cuba,” she said.
The initiative is FIU’s first capital project which relies entirely on private donations. The university will not financially contribute to the construction of the space.
“We are soliciting donations from individuals, families, for example, for whom the Cuban heritage is, and has been, so important in their life story,” said Chicuén.
Jorge Mas, co-founder of Mastec and founding member of CasaCuba’s Board of Advisors, donated $5 million in May to the project.
CasaCuba intends to raise the starting cost of $35 million before construction “in the next couple years,” according to Chicuén.
As part of the project’s most recent developments, the FIU Board of Trustees authorized on Sept. 14, the search for a construction manager.
Chicuen says the facility will help cater to the Latinx student population, as FIU is the largest Hispanic serving educational institution in the U.S.
“FIU, as a Hispanic serving institution, can really lead the way in honoring the incredible contributions our Latinx community has had in Miami and around the country,” said Chicuén. “So I definitely hope CasaCuba is an initiative that facilitates that conversation, and inspires the creation of many other Casas.”
As someone from the Cuban diaspora, Chicuén hopes CasaCuba can become a home for all generations.
“CasaCuba represents the realization of the dreams of so many, that as a mom, I can take my children in the future to learn about our history, costumes and music,” said Chicuén. “And for people out of town that don’t understand the Cuba story or the immigrant story.”