Thursday, May 16, 2013

Facing Now to Look Ahead

Rachael Trost

Reporting from Havana

Children running around the square practicing their ballet, little boys sliding down and flexing atop a dumpster, couples embracing along the Malecon at nightfall; it seems that Havana is really a place like no other I have ever experienced.
The view of Havana from our hotel.

People live such different lives than the one I am living back home. Where were these children’s parents I wondered while our group all snapped photos and videos. The children of Cuba have really captured my heart these last few days, but I worry about the futures they have to look forward too. Graduation from high school is legally required in Cuba, and the opportunity of high levels of education is only given to a select group of bright kids. The point behind this selection and the real possibilities for young peoples in Cuba is baffling to me.
Cuba is a country of roughly 11 million people. A communist nation for over 50 years, all those who grow up here will earn the same wage despite their profession. Although only the elites are chosen to attend Universities, those peoples still can only rely on average roughly 19 dollars a month from the government. However, new economic policies are already beginning to make a lasting impression for families. Family-owned restaurants or "Paladares" and home manicurist stores are only two examples of new opportunities now allowed under law for Cubans. 

Children racing during "sports" during the school day just outside of the city.

I ran across a group of pre-teens during the time of the school day they called “sports”. One young lady spoke English better than some that attend my University back home. She helped me translate the questions and giggles the group spurted out. Each of them shared dreams of brighter futures; one wanted to enter politics to make a difference, another wanted to travel to the moon, and yet another hoped to become a doctor. These dreams, which are not so far-fetched in the United States, seemed like they too were facing an uncertain future.

Girls playing before ballet practice in a public square.

With President Raul opening up certain economic areas, major changes might be on the horizon for Cuba and my young friends. Hopefully this nation still so stricken by poverty will emerge a prosperous place where the children who I will forever hold in my heart can achieve their many dreams.

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