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Why I make a monthly donation to CubaOne – a Q&A with Tu Cuba fellow Rebecca Carriero
“…the eight of us who went on this trip and the hundreds of others who have gone through CubaOne are making small cracks in the road towards a relationship with Cuba not shaded by black and white debates of the past but informed by a colorful pallet of complexity and reality.”Rebecca Carriero, CubaOne Tu Cuba Fellow
Q: How has your life, both professional and personal, been impacted since your participation on a TuCuba trip?
I was set to arrive in Cuba, along with 7 other CubaOne fellows, just a day after Cuba’s President, Miguel Diaz Canel officially was inaugurated as Cuba’s new president. The first non-Castro to act as the nation’s figurehead. Leading up to the trip, many international news outlets wrote long features about what this would mean for Cuba.
I work in media relations so I was already paying attention but this heightened my attention towards how Cuba was being presented to the world and who shapes the narrative. With CubaOne, I was able to meet reporters on the Island to talk about the media landscape and the complex system that goes into reporting there. The trip also provided a great opportunity to have in-depth conversations with my brilliant colleagues at Bloomberg News who are based in and/or cover Latin America. Thanks to their questions, insights and curiosity I was able to go into Cuba and to return from Cuba extremely informed.
I was also able to make inroads in my goal to use Spanish in a professional capacity. I don’t speak Spanish perfectly and did not learn how to read and write the language until I was in my early 20s. As a communications professional – and a woman of Cuban descent – I have long felt self-conscience about it. Speaking in mostly Spanish throughout the trip gave me confidence to employ the same skills at work. Since returning from Cuba, I was assigned a project liaising with Spanish speaking governments and am proud to say that I was able communicate fluently and effectively. Going forward, I see it as a growth for me professionally.
Personally, a huge gap in my life has been filled by visiting the Island and since returning, the trip to Cuba has helped open lines of communication with my family in the U.S. and Cuba. They showed me their refugee cards, passports, obituaries and a mountain of photos that I had never seen before. I can now tell you my great grandparents’ height and eye color. Details that make them feel real and present. Once on the Island, I connected with family.
Q: When did you decide you would support CubaOne’s mission by supporting the organization as a sustainable monthly donor? How has this experience been for you?
I decided to support CubaOne the moment I landed back in the U.S. It’s not as difficult to go to Cuba now as an American but the intense, unique emotional experience that I shared with seven others deeply impacted me and could only be provided by an organization like CubaOne.
For most Cuban Americans, Cuba has been a mythical, untouchable place where our families fled and couldn’t return. I think we all processed this experience in a profound way. I even feel a sense of responsibility for what happens next. To get to do that with other people is almost a relief – I did not want to do this alone. I now have a sense of community that I didn’t have before.
I deeply believe in the mission of CubaOne. The timing of our arrival in Cuba was perhaps a tiny footprint in the history books but the bigger picture is that on a small scale, the eight of us who went on this trip and the hundreds of others who have gone through CubaOne are making small cracks in the road towards a relationship with Cuba not shaded by black and white debates of the past but informed by a colorful pallet of complexity and reality.
Cuba will require and benefit greatly from cultivating deep relationships between individuals capable of breaking through the limited color spectrum of politics du jour. Cuba needs deep systematic changes to enter the 21st century on its own terms. It will require ingenuity, foreign investment and most of all – collaboration.
Q: What do you feel are the perks of being a monthly donor?
I’m in New York so I don’t get to experience the alumni gatherings that CubaOne often hosts in Miami so for me, I’m motivated by the sense of community and knowing that I am helping send someone else on a transformative trip. It’s important for future generations of Cuban Americans to maintain connections so that we can collectively contribute nuanced views on immigration, diplomacy and development.
Q: Would you encourage other alumni, friends, and family of CubaOne to join the monthly donor program?
Yes, of course. The biggest challenge is getting people to care about an Island like Cuba when there are arguably so many places in the world that command our attention and empathy. But that’s where our experience as CubaOne alumni makes the difference. We all went to Cuba for the first time because of CubaOne and for those who had a positive experience, we are uniquely equipped to understand the magnitude that this can have on Cuban Americans and Cubans.
For those who have not experienced a CubaOne trip, there is still a case to be made that establishing relationships now with Cuba can be mutually beneficial. For those who wish to shape policy or business in Cuba, the insights of hundreds of CubaOne alumni is an asset and support for this network pays dividends.
To make a one time donation, visit cubaone.org/donate. For major gifts and corporate social responsibility programs, please contact Community Engagement & Special Gifts Director, Luis Quijano at email@example.com