This trip was a dream come true. After many years of dealing with the travel restrictions for Americans created by The Embargo (an itinerary thoroughly questioned by both the Cuban Ministry of Tourism and the US Department of State), 26 Educational Permits and Travel Visas were issued for The Winsor School. Unfortunately, those permits arrived 6 months late, so we missed our chance to travel in 2014 and had to request an extension to be able travel in Spring Break 2016. It was a four year long process, but it worked! On March 22nd of 2016, Winsor students and chaperones landed in Havana full of expectations.
There were many moments that I treasure from the trip: the Cuban and Winsor students sitting around the table discussing The Embargo in Spanish, English and Spanglish, learning about Cuba’s history, music and dances, the Rumba/Hip-Hop student face-off with the Afro-Cuban teen dancers in Matanzas, hearing the students question and reflect on the information that we were receiving about how Cuba works, ice-cream in Coppelia after standing in a long line for whatever was the flavor of the hour, hunting for those rare güifi hot-spots, watching people in the Plaza de Santa Clara in the evenings, embargo breakfasts in ICAP, Ms. Taillacq’s Rumba trance on the drums, the impromptu evening fiestas in La Casa de Odalis, our guide Beatriz’s unpopular whistle-call and finally, after a very, very, nasty missed connecting flight, watching The Game in Miami’s Little Havana Cuban restaurant over jugo de mamey.
“Thank you Ms. Stettler and Mr. Didier for your support and encouragement throughout these years of planning this extraordinary trip to Cuba that seemed at times like a Chimera.
It was a wonderful coincidence that President Obama also believed that the time had come for a change in international relations with Cuba, and that Winsor was able to literally cross paths with history in Avenida 17 of El Vedado neighborhood, in La Vieja Habana.”
Laura Bravo Melguizo, Spanish Teacher, World Language Department