Aside from everything we learned regarding agriculture, economics, politics, food security, and healthcare, I was able to experience so many unique aspects of Cuban culture. Cubans evidently have a very strong passion for music, dance, art, and food- which also appeared to be their primary forms of entertainment. We spent one night in Viñales, a small town surrounded by beautiful mountains covered in greenery. Despite the fact that this community appeared to be very rural and quieter than Havana, we got to experience some of the nightlife in the center of Viñales. The locals gladly shared their culture with our group and encouraged us to participate in their activities as well. A band played live music while some of the younger locals danced salsa, bachata, and cumbia. Eventually, we joined in along with other tourists visiting from Europe and other areas. Back in Havana, we visited the Fabrica de Arte where both Cubans and tourists enjoyed dancing, looking at art pieces, watching fashion shows, singing along to live music, and drinking rum.
I believe that my ability to speak Spanish also helped me learn a lot about Cuban culture. I had very interesting conversations with my host family about their ancestors, the history of their country, and their opinions of the island today. It seems to me that food security is one of the biggest concerns amongst Cubans today as they continue to emphasize how difficult it is to obtain food. I also gained new perspectives regarding the United States and the many ways that we have impacted Cuba through the embargo and other international restrictions. I also learned that the Cuban healthcare and education systems within the country have proven to be very effective as every individual is guaranteed these services. Overall, I learned a lot through observing and experiencing Cuba, but also by communicating with the people!