To do research for our project, we decided to take a trip to Cuba. This decision proved extremely useful in the development of this site. It provided us with a large amount of information that we couldn't have otherwise obtained.
Of all the members of Team 18355, David and Jacob went to Cuba. It is illegal to go to Cuba as an American citizen, so we had to get permission.
We wrote to the Office of Foreign Assets Controls, but they denied our request. It was basically denied on the grounds that we were not college students.
As a result, we had to look for a different way. We discovered that pre-paid, fully hosted tours are legal under U.S. law. Given this, we decided on such a tour with Global Exchange.
The tour lasted 12 days. Most of the time was spent in Havana, where we stayed at a hotel run by the International Federation of Democractic Women. The tour was made possible by the Cuban Institute for Friendship Among the People.
We were glad to have gone on the tour, because we visited places we otherwise wouldn't have and received much information from the excellent guides.
The group met many people in Cuba. We met with the UJC (Communist Youth), a university professor, a family doctor, the President of a farming cooperative, workers at a child care center, and the heads of a small community. We also spoke with many people as we traveled around Havana.
We learned many things about Cuba throughout the trip. We received a better understanding of the economic situation, what reforms were going on, and how the country was generally changing.
Our trip proved to be an invaluable resource. It is a shame that other people have more difficulty going, because this greatly blocks the free flow of information and ideas.