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Pioneers make a journey among the first

When Cuba’s borders opened to America this year, two TWU staff members were some of the first eager travelers to visit the Caribbean country formerly banned.   

Terrie Wilhite, a part-time staff member at TWU, stated: “Cuba was not on either of our bucket lists, but it just seemed like the right time to go before all the tourists came and it became westernized.”

Wilhite and Catherine Kerley, a Development Officer at University Advancement, spent their time in Havana, Santa Clara, and other Cuban cities immersing themselves in various cultural experiences. They visited museums, memorials, music and dance exhibitions, attended lectures at universities, and visited with locals. Kerley said: “Arts and culture are a big thing in Cuba and there are institutes of arts and culture across the country that promote music, art and dance. And everywhere you go, there are people singing and dancing and that’s just part of their culture. Everywhere you go, there is some kind of musical group.” Kerley and Wilhite returned to the U.S. with stacks of CDs from the musical groups they met and listened to. They also returned with stories about the historical aspects of their trip from their visit to the Bay of Pigs.

Kerley said: “It was interesting to get the Cuban historical perspective on the Bay of Pigs. We also went to the military museum and to the actual square where the revolution started in Santa Clara called Revolution Square. It still has bullet holes everywhere.”

ven though Cuban and American relations have been strained in the past, Kerley and Wilhite were not met with hostility on their visit.

Kerley: “The people would just love Americans. We would go through these little old villages on the bus and these people would just wave and blow us kisses. They just really welcomed the tourists.”

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