"Solidaridad. Other words that mark my notebook are adelante, lucha, socialismo sostenible. Above all solidarity and sustainable socialism are the words I focus on most now that I am home," says Lyuba Basin. These are the themes a recent learning abroad journey taught a self-proclaimed "wandering soul" after she embarked on a Cuba trip with Holbrook Travel through a program by the University of Utah.
When Basin was accepted into her university's Cuba: Complexity, Community and Change program, she had different expectations of a "country that has been veiled in mystery for so long," marked by its reputation of political strife and historic turmoil. But after traversing the colorful mural-lined streets of Havana with her Fujifilm Instax 210, reading local papers with articles by Fidel and talking with the native people, she had the opportunity to learn lessons that can only exist outside of the classroom.
In a place where young people yearn to leave, Basin felt a "connection to the people" and gained a new cultural, social and economic perspective. "It was our conversations that changed my perspective and made me contemplate what part of Cuba was absolutely crucial to bring home," she says. "Now I understand that Cuba is not the expat paradise I originally imagined, but it is neither the poverty stricken communist country I was warned about." There are "changes happening in Cuba: the shift from unity to unanimity, from praising egalitarianism to praising individual contributions, from selflessness to self interest...And yet...and yet I found myself wanting to stay."
To see more photos and learn more about Basin's educational expedition through Cuba or to follow "Travels with Lyuba," you can find her blog here. All photos courtesy of Lyuba Basin.