Will Cuban Culture Reclaim Its Place At the Heart of Our America?

Cuba and education…an educator’s perspective.


“When you use the trombone, you can say whatever you want. Now with words, you need to be really careful”

An educator’s view on Cuba, without Fidel

As a Mexican with Spanish heritage and strong Latin American identity, but also as a professional in knowledge development and innovative learning, writing this gives me deep and profound emotions.

Throughout history, Cuba has been influenced by many different cultures, but more than an importer of culture, this beautiful and magical island has distinguished itself by being a massive exporter of culture.

Disproportionally so to allow the whole World to be exposed and enjoy its literature, its music, its sense of humor, its food and its cigars in a way that captures our imagination and inspires us to understand the reason why Jose Marti identified Cuba as “the heart of our America”

To talk about Cuba, you must have experienced Cuba.

I have visited Cuba several times (including a new year’s eve at a friend’s home), I have had a significant number of Cuban friends, I have interviewed dozens of academics, and also lived in Miami for many years, so I guess I can claim some experience, but I will always be an outsider and have a limited perspective.

I will begin my claim by invoking a famous Cuban comic character: Elpidio Valdes. He specializes in contrasting ideas and rejecting foreign influences. Now if I bring Elpidio to the XXI century, I have to force him to connect, interact, socialize and integrate into many different perspectives to generate his own conclusions from opposing viewpoints.

All of them are valid, all real, all valuable and all Cuban!

Every perspective provides a journey to get us closer to an understanding of a particular dimension, when we add all of them, we arrive to our own Cuba, but never to an agreeable Cuba.

Let us imagine a reader, one who worked in the tobacco production, who sat side by side with the cigar crafters while his mind was fee to absorb information. The only noise in that environment was that of the cigar leafs being manipulated with care.

In that mood we begin to open our mind and our heart. Imagine that we would be sharing a fish custard recipe from Villapol at the minute kitchen! I bring some of the ingredients, you provide your flavor.

The tobacco leaf represents a sign of peace and friendship among the three modern “Juanes” that surround the “Virgen del Cobre”. They blend into a vision of hundreds of people that surround us.  They provoke a new perspective of the Cuba possible, they rescue the iconic images of who they are, who they were, and let us craft an approximation on who they could become.

Next- “Without Sugar there is no country!”

Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando Valenzuelahttp://www.cengage.com.mx
Fernando is currently head of Aspen Institute education program in Mexico and Partner at Global Impact Edtech Alliance. He was formerly President McGraw-Hill Education, Latin America. He is a recognized senior executive, entrepreneur, speaker and board level leader with international background. He has founded and led successful enterprises in Latin America for over 25 years. He holds a Degree in Computer Science from the Universidad Iberoamericana, and an MBA in International Business by the University of Miami. Active member of Wharton Fellows, ENOVA Network of Latin America CEOs, Center for Hemispheric Policy and Council of the Americas, board member at Inroads. He was most recently President at Cengage Learning / National Geographic Learning Latin America and founder of LINNEA, the First Laboratory for Innovation in Learning Experiences in Latin America. There Fernando lead the transformation of the educational models and creating high value learning experiences by engaging students with technology. Website LinkedIn

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