cuba, through the eyes of american children
Polo shirts and navy trousers, plaid skirts and crisp shirts.
But for 26 primary school students, nothing was common in the first week of April.
They sat next to the children they had never seen before and greeted the teachers they did not know.
They were 1,200 miles from home. forbidden Cuba. The Spanish-
Immersion Student from Prince George County MD
Crossing the communist island nation for eight days is a rare visit to the United StatesS. students.
They attend classes, play baseball and dance for Cuban audiences in Havana.
Their stay took place immediately after President Obama\'s historic visit, the first visit by a sitting US presidentS.
For more than 80 years, travel restrictions between the two countries began to relax when the president.
\"It\'s great,\" said seven-year-old Zola Chatman . \" He is now back at the Maryland International Day School in Fort Washington.
\"I feel good because I am learning a different experience and speaking another language with a very fluent child.
Esther VanDeCruze Donawa, principal and founder of small private schools, said Cuban officials told her that the group of studentsages 5 to 13 —
It was the first American student to spend time in a Cuban classroom.
She called the trip a journey of life\"changing.
\"I want them to go to school in Cuba, but the idea is to give them a full immersion experience where they are with Cuban children every day, every week,\" she said . \".
The idea of traveling to Cuba dates back to more than a decade before the school.
Dong said the country attracted her because of high literacy and reading programs.
Last summer, she traveled to Cuba at the invitation of Rosemary Miley, the grandparents of a former student, as part of a nation --to-People communicate.
There, she met with Cuban officials who sent invitations to schools.
Before, the school organized a trip to other countries.
Republic of dominican Republic, Mexico and Columbia
Arrange a week in school.
The Cuban institute for friendship with the people has arranged a more diverse schedule, but includes a two-day classroom.
As students return to their class in Maryland, the excitement of exploring the island has not disappeared.
They recalled the warm weather in the country, the classic cars, and the love of baseball.
And it\'s kids.
\"We just chat, play games, interact-
Spanish, of course.
\"It\'s great,\" says 13-year-old Kenyatta Holman . \".
Anthony Parris, 11, said he wanted Cuban children to look at Maryland students like everyone else.
But he found that the children he met were surprised and happy to see their visitors.
One day in class, they played a cake called \"who ate it ? \" Singing game.
\"They are very satisfied with us, they often play games with us, they ask us what we like to do in the United States, how is the weather, what sports to do, the fifthgrader said.
Many children recall a climax when they played baseball with Cuban students.
The game is about to begin-
A place on the north shore of the island called Matanzas.
Their host played the national anthem of Cuba.
When the song was over, the Maryland band thought the ceremony was over, but they suddenly heard the sound they didn\'t think of: \"Star --
\"We all stand there, Shell
Donawa said he added that the United StatesS.
There is a flag next to the Cuban flag.
\"It\'s just telling me that we \'ve gone a long way.
A Cuban official said during the match that he heard the voice of the United States, she said. S.
After listening to the national anthem for several years, twice in three weeks.
\"It makes me feel like they respect us and we respect them,\" said Kedar Hudson, 11 . \".
When the two sides gathered to watch the match, it was clear that Cuban children --
Wearing a full baseball uniform and equipment
More experienced than the Maryland team (
To avoid unbalanced competition, Cubans regroup some players into new teams instead of having the two teams compete with each other.
Jackson Adams, 13, said: \"It\'s just showing how the two countries get along and blend with each othergrader.
Later, when students in Maryland gave their new friend the Washington National hat --
Donated by professional baseball teams-
Cuban students took off their hats and gave them to the Mary Landers.
The children noticed other memorable moments.
In Havana, they dressed up for salsa, merengue and Bata dances, dancing for hundreds of people.
They visited a historic area showing old-fashioned cars.
They are part of the marine biology class, including the dolphin show.
They made new discoveries about food and scenery.
\"Burgers are much better than American burgers,\" Anthony said . \".
Zola\'s first impression of the island was: \"I was thinking, \'Is this Cuba or Florida?
There are palm trees.
The children recalled what they thought was a fairly typical classroom, although there were more children in the classroom than they had in their school in Maryland.
Some rooms had no windows, they said, but the door was open, leading to the courtyard and the breeze blew in.
\"It feels like any other classroom, only speaks Spanish and has more children,\" Kedar said . \".
He joined the fourth place. grade class.
\"When I was in the classroom, I made a lot of new friends.
They kept asking us how America is, what sport they have, what they eat, what they wear to school.
\"I say that the United States has almost every sport in the world, because its culture is very diverse, because most countries think that the United States is a country full of opportunities, so many different cultures have their traditions.
\"At a school in Cardenas, students are separated by grade and attend classes with children of the same age. At a trade-
They took bread classes at a key school in Havana. making, xadsoda-
Bottling and television broadcasting.
In the music class, the Cuban children played the violin and sang a spiritual song.
Wade in the water\"
Speak to them in English
Nigel Davis, 8, recalls that he made a friend when he attended the second meeting
Give students a pack of chewing gum as a gift.
Students of \"Muchas gracias,\" responded.
In the days after returning to the United States, many children wrote about the trip.
\"The eight days I spent in Cuba were the best of my life,\" Kenyatta wrote . \".
\"I have made many memories that I will never forget.
It is definitely one of the highlights to enjoy culture and people there.