Lincoln-Way North Teachers Travel to Cuba During Historic Week
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lincoln-Way North Spanish teacher Linda Egnatz led more than 40 area teachers on a teacher cultural exchange tour to Cuba this summer. Lincoln-Way Science teacher Elizabeth Conroy and English teacher Dianne Shorter also participated in the professional development tour which was sponsored by the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ICTFL)

The purpose of the eight day tour was a people-to-people exchange arranged by the Cuban government. The group visited several community projects, including an abandoned water tower and dump that were transformed into a school for art and music for neighborhood children, Cuban public schools, bioreserves, eco-farms, artist communities and other cultural sites.

It was truly fascinating how Cuban communities have learned to work together to survive in spite of the economy and government, said Egnatz. It was also great collaborating with teachers from area districts about enhancing our language program curriculum.

During the visit, President Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba simultaneously announced that they would further open relations and allow the flag of the other country to fly over buildings representing their interests.

It was amazing to see how the buzzwords we hear so often at home, 'organic, sustainable, repurposed,' are a way of life there, born out of necessity. These are not life choices, but means of survival as well as artistic expression, said Conroy. Those are emotions that students wouldn't normally associate with science, but I hope to foster that connection in my classroom this year."

"There's a pervasive presence of art in Cuba, which connected me to the joy and patriotism of Cuban people, and is a basis for a sense of community, said Shorter. One art teacher told us, There are no black Cubans or white Cubans or Spanish Cubans, just Cubans.' A sense that everyone has something to contribute is a great reminder for a classroom teacher.