Cuban American Experience

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Introduction Over the course of spring break, I and 25 other students visited Havana, Cuba to study global entrepreneurship. We visited several businesses throughout the week some of which include a farm, a textile factory, an art gallery, many paladares, and a cigar factory. Below are some of the most memorable experiences from the trip as detailed using the D.I.E. approach to debriefing.

Meeting Bryan at the farm and taking him to the FAC that evening

Describe the situation We met Bryan at the farm we visited on Thursday. He is serving his one year required military service at a nearby prison. Several of us conversed with him the day and we got to know him somewhat well before we left. He and I exchanged contact info and we invited
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He shared his perspectives on many aspects of the Cuban-American relations and the economic policies of both. When it came time to leave the FAC, we discovered that Bryan intended to wait for a bus for several hours to make the long trip back to where he lived. We promptly offered to pay for his cab at which point his reaction was unforgettable. I will always remember the experience we had with him that night and the insights he provided from a millennial’s perspective.

Three interpretations of what occurred
1. Bryan was very excited to have the opportunity to come to the FAC with us that evening. An interpretation is that he doesn’t often see such hospitality from Americans. We learned the Cuban education system does not hold Americans in high regard. He, having had an experience opposite of what was expected, was likely surprised.
2. Bryan is serving his one year required service with the Cuban Military. He is not paid well (30 CUP/Mo.) and as such likely doesn’t often get the opportunity to go out in the evenings with friends. We paid for his drinks, food, and cab that evening. He thanked us several times throughout the night. Assuming he doesn’t have a second job, that night would have cost him more than a year’s salary had he had paid for it himself. This likely made him feel
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He shared how he was a student in Cuba in 1992 and why he made the decision to be the first Canadian to study a full academic year in the country. It was an experiment for him and after being in country he developed what he called a “pathological obsession” with Cuba. I appreciated all he had to say. This was the only time we had the opportunity to hear from someone who was not a native Cuban in country and had the ability to share with us through a multi-faceted lens. The textile factory was a great view into just how successful private business can be in a still largely socialist nation. I was encouraged by how enthusiastic all the directors were about the business and how much they cared about the growth and development. This was very likely not the case prior to it being privatized. Furthermore, I will always remember Javier’s reaction to learning just how much the workers were making. Finally, I wouldn’t trade my Cuba experience for any other abroad program I had the opportunity to travel on. This experience challenged me more than I expected and left me with questions I am eager to seek answers to. I think Cuba has significant potential and if the government changes their policy and privatizes more of the state owned enterprises the country will take off. I am excited to travel back
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