Bartlett Bound for Cuba

Emily Fong, Staff Writer

Associate Principal Sharon Bartlett is planning to take a trip to Cuba with a local anthropology class at Diablo Valley College. Since American embargo restrictions have only allowed trips to the country for educational or diplomatic purposes, Bartlett sought to take this rare opportunity to visit the mysterious Latin nation.

“I’ve been interested in Cuba for a while now,” said Bartlett, who speaks Spanish and has experience with Fulbright Scholarship exchanges from Mexico and Argentina. “I find Latin America very compelling.”

DVC Anthropology professor Linore Gallin has been conducting trips to Cuba for the last 7 to 8 years in conjunction with the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People, according to the trip’s application form.

Despite the tense state of US-Cuban relations, Bartlett does not see the trip as a political statement: “I think we all see it as a statement of humanitarian concern. A lot of people are lacking basic supplies, like soap and medicine.”

To remedy this, Bartlett sent an email to her colleagues on campus requesting donations of small items. “We all pick up little things, like bottles of soap from hotels, that we can part with,” she said.

US-Cuban relations have been strained since the Cold War, in which Cuba was an ally of the then-Soviet Union. Recently, however, US embargo restrictions have been loosening, providing small openings for visitors.

“Cuba is poised for change,” said Bartlett. “My personal goal is to understand Cuba as it is, then go back in 5-10 years and see it then.”

She added, “It’s easy to write off countries as black or white, but countries are like people. They’re amalgams of people, and they can change.”

The trip was open to anyone with an interest in Cuba, including staff, students, and anyone from the general public. Application submissions closed on November 7. The trip is individually funded by the applicants, with expenses totaling about $3900.

Bartlett is still accepting donations of soap or various household supplies to take along with her to help those who live without such luxuries.