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Paige Root, Spanish Teacher, Visits Cuba

Meredith Berry-Toon
This past spring, Paige Root, a Canterbury Spanish teacher, was selected to receive the Duffy Faculty Travel Award. The Award is founded on the conviction that, in a shrinking world, intercultural experiences for educators enhance not only the individual fortunate enough to receive the Award, but also his/her students. Here, Paige describes, in her own words, her experience this summer in Cuba. "Thanks to the enormous generosity of John '59 and Anne Duffy, I just spent twenty-seven incredible days in Cuba. My trip began with a ten-day faculty development seminar through the Council on International Educational Exchange.

The seminar titled, 'Contemporary Cuban Transformations: Social Inequalities and Social Policies' included lectures by Cuban academics on topics such as race, gender, the economy, and Cuba-US relations. We also visited a health clinic, the literacy museum, and the Casa de Africa. During the seminar, I practiced my Spanish in my homestay with my lovely host, Christy. Her apartment is in the neighborhood of Vedado and just down the road from the Plaza de la Revolución where Fidel gave some of his most famous speeches.

After the seminar, I spent nineteen days traveling through the western side of the island visiting Viñales, Playa Girón, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Santa Clara. Highlights included scuba diving in the Bay of Pigs, watching a cigar get rolled by a tobacco farmer, taking salsa lessons, visiting the grave of Che Guevara, and taking long sunset walks along Havana's malecón.

However, by far the best memories I made were the endless conversations I had with Cubans I met along the way. We talked about everything from the Castros to socialism to the growing private sector to relatives in the USA to Trump versus Obama, and of course, the embargo. The Cubans I encountered were so warm and engaging and above all, generous. I feel so fortunate to have had this experience and am very excited to create curriculum incorporating as much of what I learned as possible."