Washburn students get lesson on U.S. policy, political structures during trip to Cuba

Maci Hagelgantz, Alex Simmons and Meagan Borth with the founder of the Martin Luther King Center, where the group stayed during their trip to Cuba

The Topeka Capital-Journal April 23, 2017 By Katie Moore | Thrree Washburn University political science majors witnessed the effects of U.S. policy firsthand during a nine-day trip to Cuba this month.

The trio focused on the effect of the U.S. embargo, enacted in 1958, on Cuba’s youths.

“The critical consciousness of the young people was outstanding,” junior Alexis Simmons said.

One particularly striking interaction was with a 17-year-old teenager studying hospitality. Talking with her and her family provided an inside look on life in Cuba.

Simmons said being a political science student, she thought about Cuba as a political structure. But talking to people such as the teenage girl, as well as taxi drivers and school children, shifted her perspective.

“We really got to see what Cuba is about, how people live,” said senior Maci Hagelgantz.

Much of Cuban society is constructed around the embargo, Simmons said. People live in poverty, without many modern conveniences and lag behind technologically. But there’s also a sense of solidarity and generosity that grew out of being cut off economically, she said.

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