Monday, June 18, 2018

Samantha Hasty: Seeing Hope in the Hopeless

ESR MDiv graduate Samantha Hasty offers the following reflection on her recent travel as part of ESR's Contextual Theology Intensive to Cuba May 20th-28th, 2018:

Time and again during our eight days in Cuba, we saw hope. There was never not hope there. I do not know why it was so surprising to me. Hope is a core belief of who I am, yet I could not stop myself from loving the shock and aww I felt over and over as each day we met a new person with endless amounts of hope for Cuba. I grew up thinking the worst about Cuba. I was taught it was led by an evil man with evil plans and filled with evil people because they would choose to stay there. The only people there we ever felt compassion for (at least in my childlike understanding of the Cuban existence) was the ones we heard about trying to escape such as the family of Elian Gonzalez in 2000. I can now say that I have spent time on the other side of this conversation, and in the words of my beloved Professor at ESR (Rev. Dr. Nancy Bowen), “it is complicated.” Indeed, it is complicated. On our American side, we have been given only our side of the story, and in Cuba they have been given theirs. My mother always taught me there are three sides to a story: yours, mine, and the truth. Somewhere in the middle of both our sides of propaganda and experience, there is truth; there is hope.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Keelin Anderson: Highlights from the 2018 ESR Contextual Theology Intensive to Cuba

ESR MDiv student Keelin Anderson offers the following on her recent travel as part of ESR's Contextual Theology Intensive to Cuba May 20th-28th, 2018:

Living in Cuba

My dorm room in the Centro Martin Luther King (CMLK) in Marianao, Havana, was surprisingly comfortable, with AC and a bathroom with shower. Things do not work the same in Havana as in Portland, OR, where I live. Due to the US Blockade of trade with Cuba, Cubans have limited access to many basic aspects of life that I take for granted. Most of the toilets we found did not have seats, presumably because they wore out 20 years ago and could not be replaced. At times we had to go without napkins and toilet paper. The water is not as clean as in the US. We were told to avoid consuming the water (including ice in beverages, teeth brushing, and fresh veggies or fruit). This was not only impossible to do, but confusing as we were told everywhere we went that the water and food was safe. I think most of us got sick at some point during the week, a few severely.