In December, when President Obama discussed ending an outdated foreign policy with Cuba, all my family and friends had an opinion. But not one of them had actually spoken to anyone living in Cuba under Castro’s regime. I spent a week in Cuba with Global Volunteers’ People-to-People program. The group and I had spent hours talking to students of all ages, businessmen and women, parents raising young children and taking care of their parents, senior citizens, artists, musicians, members of a theater group and hotel workers among others.
It gave me what I feel to be an authentic picture of daily life in Cuba against a backdrop of economic decay. Resilient is the best word I can use to describe the people I met. Inspired is what I felt when I left.
I can’t wait to return and reconnect with friends I made. Rum, cigars and sugarcane may be the signature commodities on the island, but inventive, compassionate and hopeful are the signature characteristics of the men and women I encountered. -Ann Marett