By Miguel Cruz
I have a nice routine going Monday evenings now a days. After attempting to break a sweat at the gym, a tuna sandwich sits on my coffee/dining room/work table with a No Reservations marathon on in the background. Fancy, huh?
Man I need to travel. I never studied abroad in college. The whole "too expensive to pay out of pocket, too rich to get a scholarship for it" thing. (Rich? Did I not just mention the tuna sandwich and multi-used $20 IKEA coffee table? Whatever.) Besides, I don’t want to travel abroad with a group of people from here. That’s a vacation. Too comforting. I want to Travel. That is, interact with people from a place on Earth I’ve never seen, learn how they live their lives, and bring back those memories with me to help guide my life moving forward.
With a couple of months of tuna rather than rib-eye – and a few more to go, at that – trip one is finally planned. Unfortunately, that’s a wonderful luxury some cannot even dream of, specifically those in Cuba.
I promise you there are 23-year olds in Cuba with the same “What the hell do I do with my life now?” question that I have. And I guarantee that they can only dream about answering that question through travel.
Cuban youth need this. They need an opportunity to get lost in a place they have never seen before. No assignments, just a couple hundred bucks, a spontaneous personality, and a notebook. That’s unfortunately the easy part.
The real problem is what do youth in Cuba have to come back to? Why should they even go back to Cuba if they leave? Friends and family aside, they lack the incentive to return home with their memories.
What they need is a clean slate to come back to. They need the opportunity to mold their memories and experiences abroad into their own lives, in their own country.
The Cuban government ultimately has a decision to make. If they do indeed break with what history estimates will happen, then it is our responsibility to make these youth’s dreams become reality, and their choice as to how to draw their own map moving forward.
Miguel Cruz moved to Dallas, TX from Cuba when he was two years old. After studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, he now resides in Ft. Worth, TX.