NSHS Student Trip to Cuba
The NSHS Spanish Language and Cultural Trip to Cuba took place between the 11th and the 20th of February 2015 with the participation of 16 students currently enrolled in different levels of Spanish classes in Newton South High School. The focus of the trip was to promote direct contact with Cuban people, in particular with young Cubans, and also give our students a glimpse into a mostly mythical, controversial, but most importantly a colorful society that has more in common with us than the average American may think.
The ten-day itinerary struck a balance between structured learning, cultural activities and more relaxed social interactions between our students and their Cuban counterparts. Across six cities, students visited schools, cultural, medical and scientific institutions, tobacco plantations, self-sustained and environmental friendly farms, state owned corporations and private-run enterprises, archeological sites and three museums.
They met families and farmers, government-employed professionals and self-trained entrepreneurs, artists, rap musicians, local activists and also representatives of the Cuban establishment. They got a taste of vibrant urban centers like Havana and Cienfuegos, and also the more leisurely life in the countryside in the colonial town of Trinidad, and in the farming town of Viñales, the land of the famous Cuban cigars, where students lived with Cuban families for two days.
They also got to visit places such as the Botanical Garden of Cienfuegos, managed by Harvard University until Castro’s Revolution, Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s magnificent retreat in the Caribbean, and the infamous Bay of Pigs, all living traces of a former powerful and at times atrocious U.S. relationship with Cuba.
We were fortunate to visit Cuba in the midst of recent changes in the political will between the U.S. and the communist country. The Cuban media reflects this new reality as well, and Cuban media outlets were interested in covering our experience in their country. The result is this brief news report, a very narrow window into our students’ fruitful, at times contradictory but definitively unforgettable time in Cuba that we want to share with our community and hope that you enjoy.
We would also like to thank the following individuals and institutions for helping this wonderful idea come to fruition: Samantha Mandel, Joel Stembridge, Suzanne Murphy-Ferguson, Laura Gaspari, Jackie Casto, Brian Hammel, the more than 90 NSHS teachers and administrators that provided feedback during the selection process, the Global Education Leadership Fund at Newton Schools Foundation, and all the enthusiastic students’ families.Maureen Maher and Ricardo Gessa
Spanish Teachers at NSHS & Trip Leaders