Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ithaca Journal: "Lansing teen experiences the real Cuba"

Tell me this isn't real:
My feet sink slowly into the white sand with each step I take. A light breeze sweeps up my hair, letting it dance to the distant sound of trumpets and drums. The music being played is the sound of joy and happiness. I feel the beat now and it makes me want to move. As I begin dancing the residents start to cheer and eventually join me. I am different from them. I am a stranger. I come from a country that only seems to hurt them, yet they are happy and grateful I am here to dance and enjoy the land. They are the people of the beautiful and misunderstood country of Cuba.

Now, I know everyone's first reaction is how did I get there? I went on a mission trip with the organization called the Mission of Peace, a part of the Northeast United Methodist Church. This isn't a trip where we go to educate the masses of "our way." In fact, It's quite the opposite. We go to learn. We went to learn about the people and the culture and break down stereotypes our media has created. I had a life-changing experience I want to share with the world.

Much of my experience was spiritual, but I fell in love with the land and people. I have never been to a place where so many people were grateful and excited to have us in their home. I will never forget the joy that radiated from their beautiful faces. They treated us with warmth and compassion even when they knew we were Americans. Most places in the world are not very open to American visitors. Cuba suffers from the decisions our government has made. But they have learned to separate our government from us, the people. They don't generalize, discriminate or judge. They just love their fellow human beings. We all could learn from the Cubans. [...]
I hear that Guantanamo Bay has a poet's colony.

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