Mayah Mullins: Today included fun-filled activities. First, we went to the Revolution square and learned all about the history of the revolution and got to visit the Museum of the Revolution. I learned so much about the way that the U.S Embargo heavily impacted this country for the past 50+ years. This all made me realize that this is in fact an extremely resilient country; which has accomplished a lot with very little resources. I greatly appreciated learning the history of the Leaders of the Revolution and the reasons why the Revolution was necessary in the first place. My only wish is that we could have visited this museum sooner in our tour of Havana because it provided an incredible amount of insight into the culture, people, and various circumstances of this city.
Some of us then had the unique opportunity of visiting the Museum of Art in Havana, and had the chance to participate in the exhibit of mirrors. This was an exhibition that was unlike any other that I have ever seen and gave us the opportunity to become part of the art.
Luckily, Havana was the host of the annual jazz festival bringing people from all over the world to Havana to experience the music there. Cuba has a rich history of Afro/Spanish culture merging to create a very unique culture, which is seen in the music of this region as well. The performers gave “Cuban” renditions of some famous American jazz songs, which they explained provided a West African theme to the music to make the sounds unlike any other. There were two jazz artists performing from Los Angeles along with the Cuban jazz performers to create a sound that I have never heard before. I love music, specifically jazz music so this experience was a real treat.
Katherine Guardado: The Sunday before we left Cuba to come back to the United States, we had the opportunity of touring the Museo de la Revolucion. Our tour guide gave us all the history of how Cuba came to be the country it is today. We learned about how Fidel Castro led a revolution against Fulgencio Batista with the help of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. With any revolution, rebuilding an entire is hard work. Fidel Castro tried to ease the transition by creating a socialist environment. He made it so that there was free education and free health care for all. It is an interesting situation to be in a country while they tell you their history, especially when the country you come from played such a huge role in creating the circumstances that Cubans still live with. They say that history is told by the perspective of the winners, this was a rare opportunity to hear history from the other side. You really get a sense of how the people have had to evolve in order to survive with the cards they were dealt.
We were lucky that we were there when there was a Jazz Festival going on. Actually, all week we kept running into people from the U.S. They were all coming to Cuba specifically for the Jazz Festival, so we felt pretty lucky that we were able to attend one of the shows. We went to La Zorra y El Cuervo which was a pretty well known Jazz Club. We had reserved seating in the front, so we felt pretty special. The group that we saw that night was an all-female Jazz group that was playing Afro jazz. It was so amazing to see this combination of music that took parts of Cuban music and melded them perfectly with classic Jazz sounds. The crowed was thoroughly entertained. They even had two special guests performing with them from the U.S. One of those guests was blind and she played the most beautiful flute music. She was a great addition. It’s wonderful to see that even when our two countries have had pasts that were not ideal, they can still play beautiful music together. This was a great ending to a phenomenal and informative week in Cuba. This has truly been one of the greatest experiences I have had the privilege of being a part of.