Global Spotlight: Cuba Part II – One Language
Educational Travel Adventures had the pleasure to plan and execute a very special people to people cultural exchange in Cuba, last month. Students from Beasant Hill School traveled all the way from sunny California to the island nation of Cuba. This was a first for ETA and a first for the school. Like every international tour ETA executes we have an expert Tour Manager to act as your liaison to the foreign country. This time around Julio Barrantes was at the plate for ETA and Beasant Hill School.
Upon Julio’s return from Cuba with Beasant Hill School, I was chomping at the bit to speak with him. Our conversation was great…All the basics were covered. Did the kids enjoy themselves? Yes, check. Did the kids learn something new? Yes, check. Will the kids be impacted in some way? Yes, check. I could keep going on and on. Ultimately the experience was overly positive for the Beasant Hill School students. I must preface that my conversation with Julio was two weeks ago and many of the details of the Cuban tour have left me. One has remained though…Baseball.
Baseball that iconic American Classic that filled my childhood summers. I’m instantly taken back to the scent of well oiled leather and the gritty texture of the dust filled air. Baseball was my everything, when I was young. I lived, ate and slept baseball…I was more than a fan, I was obsessed with the game. My obsession with baseball is nothing compared to the national pride Cubans have, for the game. To say that Cubans are passionate about baseball is an understatement. Baseball is ingrained into the Cuban people and has been a staple of the Cuban culture for more than a century. Baseball is an American export, brought to the island nation of Cuba by American sailors and trading vessels in the 1860’s. The sport has outlasted 2 wars and banishment, to ultimately grow to be recognized as the national sport of Cuba.
Julio mentioned that the Beasant Hill students brought some equipment along with them to Cuba, as a gift for the local little league team. It was decided that they must play! Julio described to me a scene straight out of one of those 90’s classic baseball flicks alla The Sandlot or The Rookie. Picture a scene of awkward pre-teens, trying to act as grownup as possible. Overgrown hats and t-shirts draped across their little bodies but standing proud and eager to throw the first pitch or take a swing. Little League baseball can bring about a juxtaposition that is truly unique to the sport. It was obvious both squads were nervous but when baseball was put into the mix, all their inhibitions dissipated completely. Yes there was some confusion on why they were using metal bats(Cubans only use wood bats) but besides that the game went off without a hitch.
It is true Cuba has much more to offer than the game of baseball. You have Old Havana with the iconic Plaza de la Cathedral and all its classic Spanish charm. Of course, the music, food, and dancing can’t be beat. Beasant Hill School experienced all of this and more, but it’s hard to say what will impact these children more. One thing is for sure two teams from two nations, not knowing each others language came together to play a pick up game of ball. In the end, it turns out these young children could speak each others language, the language of baseball!
Interested in taking your student group to Cuba? Click HERE for more details.