¡No Hablo Español!
I just returned from a trip to Cuba. While there, I participated on a construction team as a part of an NGO (non-governmental organization) that helped repair a school located about three hours west of Havana in Pinar del Rio. Our team was tasked with rewiring existing electrical work, pouring concrete floors, building beds, painting and prepping a dormitory for student use in the coming months.
As I knew friends and colleagues would ask about my trip, I thought diligently about how to summarize my experience in one word – not an easy task. The word I chose was ‘fascinating’. It was my first foray into a communist country and it was an eye-opening experience. In spite of the ramifications of communism and its toll on the Cuban people, I found much joy and encouragement with the attitudes and experiences while interacting with my hosts.
My encounters reinforced the notions that one’s joy, happiness and identity don’t come from our possessions or even our careers. They come from within.
There’s much to be learned from our industrious, creative, innovative brothers and sisters to our south. They’ve learned to be resourceful and make do with what they have or what they can find.
I could write a book about my experience, and rather than force an analogy about the meetings industry and Cuba, my heart tells me that we’d all be better, more considerate and appreciative people if we’d experience a trip that takes us out of our comfort zone.
And if you’re a praying person, remember the residents of the country just 90 miles south of Florida. They are in need of resources, encouragement and a helping hand!