By Julia Nasiek
HAVANA, CUBA – Ten Immaculate Heart Academy students in the documentary field production class had a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they went to visit Cuba o ver the February break.
On Sunday, February 15th around 5 am, the girls left their homes to travel to the not-so-far-off land of Cuba for eight days. Assistant principal of academics and technology, Mrs. Stephanie Brodeur, arranged the entire trip and accompanied the girls along with her husband and a parent chaperone.
While in Cuba, the girls interviewed a variety of people ranging from officials to locals about topics regarding the climate, all the way to Obama’s plans to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States.
“The original goal of this year’s documentary was to gain insight into the challenging politics between the United States and Cuba. However, when we were in Cuba, we realized that the richest story was in its people,” Mrs. Brodeur commented.
All these people informed the girls about everyday life in Cuba and how different it is from other countries. The girls were able to learn about the culture and politics from the viewpoint of the common people.
The best part of this trip seemed to be when the students were able to see the real Cuba–not the resorts or restaurants made especially for tourists, but normal hotels and cafes that the natives visit. At one point, the girls visited a place called Regla, where they listened to a music group talk about what they sing and why. This opened the girls’ eyes to the Cuban culture.
“I saw how cultured it was. The people who live there are really proud of their culture and country,” IHA junior, Danielle Touma, said.
For two nights and one day, the students stayed at an all-inclusive resort where they were able to relax on the beach and enjoy the other side of Cuba. It really showed the girls the difference between what the locals see and what tourists see. In this hotel, none of the culture, religion, or poverty of Cuba was seen, and the diversity seen in Old Havana and around the museums and towns the girls had previously visited, was nowhere to be found.
But staying outside of one of these resorts allowed the students to see what Cuba is really like. It gave the girls a broader perspective of how the people live and what they do daily. Although the water may not have been warm, and the toilets may not have had seats, it was a way of seeing what other tourists don’t usually see.
Also while in Cuba, the documentary field production class was able to visit universities and interview many people about Cuba’s culture, traditions, and politics. This trip was a life-changing adventure for all of the students.
“This trip was educational, and of course gave me a one-of-a-kind experience in the communications field. But I think that it taught me more about life than anything else,” said IHA junior, Alara Siegel. “Cuba is a country not many Americans know much about, and getting to experience it hands-on, and document it on camera, was incredible.”
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