Dawson’s solidarity delegation to Cuba


Twelve students and two teachers from the Social Change and Solidarity profile of Social Science returned from Cuba Jan. 15 after a three-week solidarity delegation.

The trip is a close partnership with the Centro Martin Luther King Jr. (CMLK) in Cuba, an organization that promotes local and global solidarity, popular education, and justice. The Dawson group traveled to Havana, Puerto Esparanza, Cienaga de Zapatas, Trinidad, and Santa Clara.

Profile Coordinator Sara Kendall described the experience: “Students engaged in a wide range of activities: they lived with families; engaged in exchange with Cuban youth (including English-Spanish lessons, dance classes, and an open-mic night); met with scholars of race, gender, and law in the Cuban context; visited community organizations focused on solidarity economies, biodiversity protection, and LGBTQ+ rights; visited museums, art spaces and cultural projects; got their hands dirty on an organic urban farm; spent time with families in a rural context; participated in activities with a youth arts organization, and more.”

The highlight for Sara was the relationships: “It was powerful to see students cry as they said goodbye to their host families in Havana; and laugh with Cuban teens as they played games and shared about their lives in a mix of Spanish, English, and French. We developed deeply meaningful friendships with the facilitators, speakers, and interpreters that met and accompanied us. And the students got so close to one another, having each other’s backs as they stepped into worlds outside comfort zones. Solidarity, at its heart, is about relationships like this.”

The experience in Cuba is a valuable learning experience. “It is an opportunity to bring ideas down to the ground,” says Sara. “In our classrooms we often have big, theoretical conversations about power and the global economy; about building alternatives. While in Cuba, these conversations become very real, as we encounter deep inequity and injustice alongside so many individuals and organizations working to transform the status quo. The experience makes us ask hard questions about our own positions in the world, our role in global webs of power, and how we can be part of building new worlds. The class does not answer these big questions, but it gives us a community in which we can ask them together.”

Students journaled throughout their experience and reflected on their learnings along the way. Now, in their Integrative Seminar course, the students are making sense of this complex and powerful experience: through continued reflection, analysis, and creative production. Here are some of the students’ thoughts:

Students’ thoughts on the solidarity delegation to Cuba

What were your personal highlights?

  • Naomie Roy: “For me, a highlight was getting to know our classmates and our teachers in a different context and forming meaningful connections with each other.”
  • Brae Sinclair-Carter: “I loved meeting people of all ages – not just in in an academic context but also in a personal way, like our host families and the youth at our partner organization.”

What did you learn?

  • Chelsea Sun: “We didn’t only learn about Cuba, but about ourselves too. We learned a lot about the importance of community and mutual aid, and to think about this where we live too.”
  • Benjamin-Taylor Sauvé: “I appreciated learning about Cuba from within – hearing directly from scholars, experts, and community members there. It was a chance to learn about the many different Cubas within Cuba.”

What did this experience allow you to do, learn, experience different than a regular class at Dawson?

  • Brae Sinclair-Carter: “There were so many questions we had about Cuba before we went, which we could look up online or in a book. But in Cuba, we were in a place where we could just ask people around us. We were learning everywhere we went.”
  • Benjamin-Taylor Sauvé: “We came with lots of questions, but we also learned to ask different questions.”
  • Chelsea Sun: “One thing was that was different about the trip course was that we had such a close and meaningful relationship with teachers. You don’t get that opportunity in a regular classroom.”

How do you think it made an impact on you?

  • Benjamin-Taylor Sauvé: “The trip broadened my perspective on what can be.”
  • Brae Sinclair-Carter: “It helped me grow as a person in so many different ways. In my relationships, and in my academic work.”
  • Tesfa Peterson (teacher): “For me, it was very personal in the sense of what I’m capable of as a person. I came back having learned that I can do this! Doing this kind of work in community is what makes it possible.”
  • Chelsea Sun: “I think it’s made me really love people. I loved the people I traveled with. We really depended on each other, and it made me love and appreciate them even more. And we met so many amazing people on the trip.”

What are you most interested in studying?

  • Brae Sinclair-Carter and Salma Sévigny: “We’re interested in studying political science, international relations, and communications.”
  • Chelsea Sun: “I’m thinking of studying economics and sociology.”
  • Benjamin-Taylor Sauvé: “I’m interested in public policy and community activism.”

Anything else you want to say:

  • Salma Sévigny: “It was such a complex experience, it’s hard to describe!”

To learn more about the Social Change and Solidarity profile or about the trip, follow the Social Change & Solidarity account on Instagram (@dawson.scs). They will continue to share pictures and videos from the trip!

Last Modified: February 8, 2024