Global Spotlight: Cuba Part I
March 24, 2015   //   By:   //   Articles, Cuba, Destinations, Service Trips   //   Comments are off

After the big announcement a couple months ago that diplomatic relations will resume between the United States and Cuba, we cannot contain our excitement for the academic possibilities. For some time now, licensed tour companies such as ETA have been able to take groups to Cuba for people-to-people exchanges. It just so happens that ETA got the chance to send our very first school group to the Caribbean island on one of our Sustainable Horizon programs. The Beasant Hill School of Happy Valley in California will be returning from their extraordinary trip this week.

Before they left, I had the chance to chat with our Operations Lead Julio to discuss Cuba and the planned program ahead of them. Julio is our number one man in Latin America…As a Costa Rican, he has access to a country like Cuba,  that might be restricted for an American citizen.

It’s also refreshing and is of interest to note his unique perspective on the relationship between the States and Cuba. I asked Julio “On an educational level, what is the significance of Cuba and the U.S. opening their borders?

“Cuba is amongst the highest literacy rates in the world. They have the largest medical school in the world which trains doctors from all over the world with scholarships that only require from them to go back to their rural communities to practice medicine with the ones who need it the most. On the humanitarian level, it will allow other countries to help Cuba in moments of tragedy and to exchange goods in an open market.”

Cubans and Americans are primed to start repairing relations but some major hurtles still lie in the way. First of all travel to Cuba for the purpose of tourism is prohibited. To be eligible for travel to Cuba for educational activities under the OFAC regulations the group of travelers must be on a “People to People” mission.

“People to People” was President Dwight Eisenhower’s brain child. In 1956, President Eisenhower envisioned world peace and his solution was the “People to People” movement. Word War II had just ended and to say the society was war torn would be putting it lightly. President Eisenhower himself being a retired Army General who lead in the European Theater was all too aware of the delicate situation that lay ahead. The fractured post-war world appeared larger than today and people were much more isolated. It was a world without the Internet, smart phones and any other cool modern technology we take for granted.

Fast-forward to today. Our society has gone global with borders only existing on maps. The world has opened up and people of all cultures have the possibility to interact. Fifty years ago, traveling to China was virtually unheard of. Now, there are daily non-stop flights from San Francisco to Beijing. Imagine 50 years from now with Cuba.

Interested in opening up your classroom to Cuban Culture? Check our pals at The New York Times & The Learning Network. They have created an awesome ice-breaker lesson plan for your classroom. Enjoy!

Looking Ahead… Cuba Part 2 in our next newsletter.

Planning to  take  your group to Cuba? Click HERE to view a sample itinerary.


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