NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — A group of students from Central Connecticut State University spent this year’s spring break doing something a little different — on assignment in Cuba.
“It was a great experience and to be part of it there’s like no words,” said Kimberly Pena, a student at CCSU.
The focus of the trip was to document everyday life. Taking pictures and video everywhere they went. The students tell News 8 they were most surprised by the kindness of the Cuban people.
“It was just beautiful seeing how they embraced us Americans,” said Pena. “They asked us to come in their homes, make dinners for us, served coffee.”
Throughout the trip the students couldn’t help but notice the crumbling buildings, in need of repair.
“There’s contrast. You go to these beautiful hotels and you go to these beautiful tourist areas,” said Chris Marinelli, who also went on the trip. “But the actual civilian places where people live, they live in houses that need to be fixed. I’m hoping that’s something the Cuban government focuses on in the very near future.”
Before leaving Connecticut the trip hit a snag. Students were told they would be re-located from Havana to a different part of the island because of President Obama’s visit to the island. After reaching out to the White House via social media, students were invited to the baseball game between the Tamp Bay Rays and Cuban Nationals.
“At the end of the game they exchanged jerseys and it was so beautiful to see. As Cubans that made them so happy,” said Pena.
Students will now put together a magazine about their trip and work on individual projects. A panel discussion is also planned. It’s an experience that’s been life-changing.
“Just as our country has problems, they have their own problems,” said Marinelli. “But it’s all about striving for change and making it as best as possible.”