Name: Sydney

Age: 21

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia, USA

Explored: Cuba

About: University of Virginia Student


"I don’t think I realized the significance of my travel to Cuba until Trump got elected. Beyond the cost and resources it took me to get there, relations between the US and Cuba have been complicated for decades. After travel bans were instituted by Trump and other countries became fearful of America, I realized how privileged I was to have had the ability to travel out of the country and to an island that most Americans were not able to visit.

Cuba is a beautiful country with a rich history. As an African American Studies minor and the owner of an adventure-based company, I am a big history buff and adventurer. I took pictures of everything I saw and talked to anyone that could hold a conversation. While shopping in the square, a friend and I met a booth owner named Pedro. Pedro spoke to us, not as customers, but as friends. I was intrigued, and so was he. We talked about Cuban history, Cuban culture, and the Spanish language. He encouraged me to use my broken Spanish for a majority of the conversation. Instead of pressuring me to buy something from his booth, he spent time getting to know me and my experiences in Cuba.

Pedro was one of many of the friendly people I met in Cuba. His love of life and willingness to share were two qualities that made my time in the country worthwhile. It is easy to get bogged down in the hustle and bustle of work and responsibilities, but Pedro reminded me that it is important to take time to talk to others, learn, and explore a little."


Lindsey Shavers