By Nicole Hennessy
Wrapping up her senior year at Avon Lake High School, Alexandra York, president of the school’s National Honor Society, planned a trip to Havana, Cuba.
With a group of 10 students and an adviser, the group will heading out Friday and return Tuesday.
York, who’s never been to Cuba but has traveled overseas, said she got the idea from her parents.
“My parents got together with their friend, who is Cuban, and started a business, which took businesses from America to Cuba to start international relations between big businesses,” York explained.
She thought it would be a great opportunity for cultural immersion and began organizing the trip, which will include service projects.
“It’s such a unique place, so different than our life is here, so I just wanted to expose all of us to something so different and open our eyes to what’s really going on that we don’t see every day,” said York.
“We are going to be working with students who are freshmen at the University of Havana, and I’m really looking forward to this because they’re only a year older than us.”
York, who plans to study international relations in college, says she hopes to talk to the students about their daily lives, their goals and fears.
“Although we live in two very different places, I find it hard to imagine our lives are that different from each other,” she said.
The students, who hosted a fundraising drive at the high school, will be bringing items like medicine and clothing to donate to families and organizations.
They will also be immersed in the arts — visiting the studio of a local dance company.
York said she does expect the topic of historic political tensions between Cuba and America to come up, but she said she doesn’t expect to spend much time focusing on this. Instead, she is interested in discussing social progress for people in both countries, especially women’s issues and gender issues.
“More than talking about the tensions, we’re going to talk about where we can go in the future. We’re going to create a positive bond rather than an isolating one,” York said.
Continuing, she said she is encouraged by the progress being made in gender equality in America, but she’d like to see that equality expanded beyond America and beyond gender issues.
“Internationally, we really need to take that equality and put it through different genders, through different nationalities. With this trip, with boys and girls going and meeting boys and girls there, I think the equality overall, not just through gender, but between countries, is really something that we need to start emphasizing.”
Tags: Avon Lake
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