A big part of #diversity is interacting with different people rather than the usual crowd that you are comfortable with. For the past nine days, I did just that in Cuba. Cuba of course is a country that not only has a foreign main language (being Spanish of course), but has that mystique of being a nation that is still under a communist or socialist government.
To the eyes of the western world, Cuba under the Castro brothers can even be considered enemy territory held over from the cold war years. As a result, its people for those who haven’t experienced the country directly, can be a mystery.
Although many Europeans and Canadians have been traveling to Cuba for years as vacations, most spend pretty well all of their time in touristy beach resorts rather than venture out to where the Cubans actually live. One of my main objectives for this trip was to increase my own diversity development by interacting with the local people to understand their way of life.
For the most part, I found that Cuban people warm, friendly and eager to share their culture. Yes there was the odd person who clearly wanted to take advantage of us rich tourists but the vast majority of Cuban people I met and encountered were quite honest folks.
At the same time, you can tell that life is not easy down there and they really try to make the best out of things. One of the best interactions I had was with a cab driver who took my from my scuba diving site in the west part of the country back to Havana.
This was a five hour car ride with just the driver and myself. His name was Paco and he spoke enough English that we actually had a nice conversation. I spoke a few phrases of broken Spanish here and there just because I thought that I should make an effort and it was appreciated. Diversity involves trying to make connections with others and I think we did a pretty good job at this during our long drive.
I learned a lot about life in Cuba from conversations with Paco and others. My own life was enriched because of this diversity activity that I definitely wanted to pursue.
In case some of your think that all Cubans are anti-democratic, communists, the photo below will be one of my most memorable moments in Cuba and most certainly shows just how beautiful people can be even from countries that currently have a system that seems so foreign to us.