When I met with the students and chaperones before their departure for Cuba, I told the students that their primary job was to make the trip so much fun for their chaperones that the chaperones will want to go again in the future. I figured that if the students made the trip really fun for the teachers then it would be just as much for the students as well. Following is the email that lead chaperone Janice Ribeiro sent me upon their return. It looks as though Waynflete will be traveling again.
I have a few minutes on the last leg of the trip home to send a brief note. We will arrive late tonight tired but filled with appreciation for this opportunity to spend almost 10 days together on a cultural adventure in Cuba.
We were all sad to leave the balmy Cuban shores early this morning—some students exclaimed that they wished they could stay behind! We fell madly in love with the Cubanos we met. Everywhere we went (and we were busy!!) people were kind, curious, warm, and friendly. They sang, danced, shared stories with humor and candor, and always welcomed us with open arms. We lucked out with a guide and bus driver, Manny and Gisnel, who went above and beyond to show us their country, always with smiling faces, a funny story, some rocking Cuban bus fiestas, and some pretty special surprises! I will let the students tell you more about their adventures, but I can say that everywhere we went people commented about what a well behaved and friendly pack of 37 “Yumas” we were! It was wonderful to watch each and every one of our group warmly interact with local people of all ages, communicate in Spanish, and happily try all kinds of new food (we had a few sickies, but everyone made it through!). Students also shared music, played pick-up baseball and fútbol, and learned to dance the salsa and the conga!
Our guides were also so touched by their warmth. On our last night, they said that it was the first time that any tour group had invited them to sit and share meals and stories during a trip. As we departed, they said that we would always have family in Cuba and we, of course, invited them to come and visit Maine. Christy, Lindsay, and I are all really proud of them and we are already looking forward to the next adventure.
We will all be tired on Monday, but with stories to tell and memories that will last a lifetime! It was an amazing trip.
Christy, Janice and Lindsay