On Friday February 6, 2015, 14 American students in Cuba attended a dinner reception with members of the U.S. Diplomatic Service in Havana, including Tim Roche, U.S. Consul General. Seven Arcadia students in Cuba were in attendance, along with Arcadia’s Resident Director in Cuba, Dr. Elena Moreno Angulo: Alexa Peters Posner, Macalester College; Rebecca Acebal, Georgetown University; Jessica Perez, Arcadia University; Janelle Crilley, Arcadia University; Hannah Garcia, David Lipscomb University; Kylie Grow, University of Virginia; and Jade Harvey, Yale University.
The event took place at the residence of the U.S. Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Lydia Barraza, and attendees included Tim Roche, Consul General; Lynn Roche, Public Affairs Officer; Gilberto Torres Vela, Deputy Chief of the Economic Section, Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs; and Bernardo Diaz, Sarah Grossblatt and Angela Dairymple, Consulate Officers.
The evening was designed to show the students how much support they have from the Diplomatic Service in Cuba and also to highlight how privileged these students are to be in Cuba at this historic time when U.S. – Cuba relations are changing. Jade Harvey said she was especially pleased because the hosts were extremely welcoming, and everybody was so willing to answer their questions.
Janelle Crilley said: “It was an honor to be received by the diplomats. We were really interested in hearing about their experience in Cuba, since we get to integrate into the Cuban culture, whereas they live apart from Cuban society for the large part.”
The evening gave opportunities for many thoughtful and engaging discussions from how to beat homesickness while studying abroad, to how to tackle issues relating to the Cuban economy.
“You tend to think of high ranked diplomats as far apart or out of reach but they were so approachable and easy to talk to – even about everyday topics such as TV shows,” said Hannah Garcia.