- by Griffin Bond -

Griffin Bond and classmates in Cuba at the Malecón esplanade

As a transfer student to Nazareth, I knew I wanted to take advantage of my SPARK Grant and study abroad quickly. With my love of history, the Cuba program jumped out to me as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

student standing in front of a green landscape in Viñales, Cuba
At lunch in Viñales we had lunch with an incredible view.

Minutes after introducing himself, our tour guide, Abel Contreras de la Guardia, said, “Do not try to understand Cuba.” While his claim first startled me, over the next nine days in Cuba I gradually began to see his rationale. Havana, Cuba, where we spent the majority of our time, is a city that’s remarkable to the eye.

student speaking with Marc Frank, an author and journalist
During lunch with Marc Frank, an author and journalist
from the United States, I learned about political elections in Cuba.

With colonial-style architecture, Old Havana is an enchanting place with centuries of history to share with visitors. Tom Millington, executive director of Nazareth’s partner Abroadia, organized many meetings with Cuban intellectuals, professors, diplomats, and journalists to help give our group a dynamic view of Cuba. Through these conversations, our group gained vital information about the country.

students touring Old Havana, Cuba
During our tour of Old Havana, we had the honor of meeting
with Roberto Zurbano, a Cuban intellectual, who informed
our group about race relations in present-day Cuba.

Looking back to my experience in Cuba, I often reflect on our tour guide’s statement. I do not understand Cuba, but I certainly appreciate it far more than before this experience. I am now more attuned to how the United States’ foreign policy can impact people in such a personal manner. I am ever more curious about Cuba and its institutions.

Havana Cathedral in Old Havana, Cuba
During our tour of Old Havana we saw the Havana Cathedral.

Most of all though, I feel a sense of gratitude for walking the streets of Havana and building relationships with those who call Cuba home. The Nazareth program, in conjunction with Abroadia, is an exploration of a place filled with charm, passion, and endearing connections. Above anything, traveling to Cuba empowers students to think critically beyond the classroom setting.

students in a theater at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba
A group of us went to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba to see
a Cabaret Parisien show.

Griffin Bond is a junior majoring in history and elementary education. He was among a dozen students who traveled together with Mary Maher, Ph.D., Nazareth professor and chairperson of nursing and public health, and Nevan Fisher, Ph.D., executive director of Nazareth’s Center for International Education.