Marley Dizney Swanson ’18 studies immigration in Cuba and around the world

Marley Dizney Swanson ’18 was an Institute office assistant and participant of the Inside Politics and Inside the Middle programs.

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, in a predominantly Hispanic community, Marley Dizney Swanson ’18 saw the effects of immigration policies firsthand. Her classmates’ experiences in elementary school sparked a lifelong focus to change immigration policy in the United States. And at Gettysburg, she has been able to pursue experiences that will help her accomplish that goal.

When it was time for the college search, Dizney Swanson knew she wanted to be close to Washington, D.C., major in Political Science, and have a liberal arts experience.

She was convinced that Gettysburg was the right place for her after meeting Eisenhower Institute Executive Director Jeffrey Blavatt. She participated in an overnight visit that solidified her decision—with student Maja Thomas ’17—who is one of her friends today.

Dizney Swanson, a Political Science and Public Policy major, has co-founded and served as president of the Model Arab League (MAL), earned a prestigious Critical Language Scholarship to spend a summer in Turkey immersing herself in the Turkish language and culture, led an immersion project through the Center of Public Service about immigration to the U.S.-Mexican border, and participated in the Eisenhower Institute’s Inside Politics program with Kasey Pipes. She’s also been an active member in Model United Nations (MUN). 

In the spring of 2016, she studied abroad in Cuba through the IFSA-Butler program, where she enrolled in classes at the University of Havana. All of her classes were taught in Spanish.

“Being a political science major and with the normalization process going on right now, there’s not a more exciting place in the world for me to be,” Dizney Swanson said. “I’ve never been to a country that the U.S. has so much negative history with, and it changed the way I think about immigration and politics.”

Dizney Swanson was able to see the real effects of the policies that have been enacted over the years and found many Cubans were eager to speak about politics with her. She was in Cuba when President Obama visited as well as when the Major Lazer and Rolling Stones concerts took place.

“President Obama’s visit only catalyzed more talk about political change in the country in terms of freedom of speech and leadership," she said. "Cubans are anxious to see what becomes of the Cuban government in 2018 when Raúl Castro has promised to step down.”

While in Cuba, Dizney Swanson had the opportunity to participate in an international branch of MUN. In HAVMUN, she served as a member of the Disarmament and International Security Council, with students from Mexico, Germany, and Cuba.

“The committee was just as competitive as the conferences I’ve attended in the North American circuit; they are incredibly knowledgeable in this field,” said Dizney Swanson. She will be participating in the London School of Economic’s MUN conference’s committee on the Cuban Revolution in the spring with Gettysburg’s MUN team.

Dizney Swanson took the opportunity to work on her thesis while in Cuba and earned an International Bridge Course scholarship to pursue the research.

“My thesis is about how the Castro brothers have and continue to use the legacy of Jose Martí (the leader of the revolution who is revered as a national hero), in order to further their own political agenda,” she said.

Through her research, Dizney Swanson analyzed speeches and learned more about the political system and revolution in her classes at the University of Havana.

Originally posted on the Gettysburg College website.

Contact: Shawna Sherrell, associate director of creative services, 717.337.6812

Posted: Tue, 22 Nov 2016