Memories from Cuba: A student’s perspective

September 28, 2016


Brendan Barrow

The town, Sancti Spiritus, in Cuba where students tutored residents and planted a garden.

In the town of Sancti Spiritus, we were introduced to Pedro, the dean of English at the city’s university, who was paid only $30 per month by the state for his work, while a young waiter working in and around tourists might make $40 per week off of tips.

Displaying perfectly how tourism has affected Cuba’s economy in a very disproportionate way, this trend is a reflection of a system that is caught between two strong economic theories: Capitalism and Socialism. But seeming impossible to our foreign minds, we all began to realize that this was a place we could never truly understand.

But faced with these troubling economic conundrums, our first reaction is to judge and diagnose to determine what is the best avenue to Cuba’s future. But, after three weeks of immersing myself in a people and nation that humbled me to my core, I realized that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of understanding their way of life. And if my limited American perspective couldn’t begin to understand this nation, how can I possible judge their future? Of course, you may be asking, if we can’t judge, then why share this story with us?

And it is merely because amidst all the artwork, music, photos, and amazing tutoring stories we bring back and all that will be said about Cuba as current events unfold, America will try to grapple with understanding this complex and dazzling country. And I hope that while we can begin to recognize the economic hardships faced by Cuba’s economy, we can never really understand what is at work here, and instead celebrate all the amazing things that Cuba is, rather than what it should be.

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