After 60 years of harsh relations between the countries of Cuba and the United States, President Barack Obama ha opened ties with this country, allowing for many more opportunities between the two.
For Castleton College students, that means the chance to travel to Cuba and experience this culture that has long been hidden.
A group of students and faculty will travel in May for one week to the city of Havana to immerse themselves in the food, lifestyle and music of the longtime rival country. Phil Lamy and Sherill Blodget are the two professors in charge of the trip.
“We are going down there to learn about the history of Cuba, interact with the people and to appreciate the music and culture that comes with it. Along with that, we also feel like we are breaking history; we just started being able to go down there, and now we are taking the first group of students from Castleton there,” Lamy said excitedly.
Cuba is a country drowning in gorgeous, colorful culture where people fill the streets during all times of the day singing, dancing and playing music that rings through the air for anyone to hear, Lamy said, describing the country from his first and only visit to Cuba a couple years ago. Some of the students on the trip will be joining forces with a Cuban performance art group and preforming a mixture of American and Cuban songs together.
One of those students, sophomore Chris Manjunk, is extremely excited for this opportunity and said this will be his first time out of the country.
“I’m just excited because we are working with another group and combining with a Cuban Choir to perform a couple pieces. We also will be able to tour the city of Havana while we are visiting,” Manjunk said.
Sophomore Shania Brown’s excitement for the trip deals in part with her family history.
“One main reason why I wanted to go on this trip was because my grandfather had fought in the Cuban Missile Crisis for several years, so I see this as a way to sort of reconnect with him. Also you have to take every chance you can to travel, and that’s what I’m doing,” Brown said.
Junior Liz Havens said she’s a little nervous for the upcoming trip, but is extremely excited to see a completely new place and meet new people from a different culture
“I am also hoping to gain a new outlook on life,” she said. “Being in a situation and a country that I’ve never been to before will provide me with new outlooks and I’m looking forward to experiencing many new things!” Havens said.
Realizing that this land has been so isolated to Americans for so long is only fueling the anticipation for students, who say the trip could be transformative.
“I plan on almost, not changing my life, but get influenced by a different culture in one way or another. Whether it be music-wise, food-wise, or culture-wise, I want to get something out of it that will affect me for a while.”