Carlene Hempel's Travel Blog

Reflections from a journalist and teacher abroad…

Our Cuba program featured on Channel 5

leave a comment »

Chronicle on Cuba

Check out my colleague Mike Beaudet’s report on Chronicle (WCVB-Channel 5’s nightly news magazine) about our program in Cuba from May and June, 2018. There are four segments, listed below. This one (Segment 4) shows the students, living and working in our beloved Casa Vera.

Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4 

Advertisements

Written by carlenehempel

November 29, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Life in Cuba

Again, a sad goodbye…

leave a comment »

I have been to Amsterdam many many times and will continue to visit this most beautiful city again and again. The last two times, I came with my husband – first, for part of our honeymoon 19 years ago, and second, for the European premier of his Kinks movie (with Cal in my belly.) This time, though, was with my now-16 year old, Lila. And I have to say, every single moment of this adventure has been unforgettable and magical. (Not that the honeymoon wasn’t tops too! 😉 ) I’ll let a few pictures, mostly taken today (our last), tell the story – but I think the result of this trip is what I had intended: To create in my daughter a love of the city that I have adored for so long. Happy Birthday dear Lila. Let’s come back together (maybe Nonna will join us!) when you turn 21.

Written by carlenehempel

July 18, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Family

Amsterdam, I love thee…

with one comment

3D1EAAB8-207E-4B37-B2E7-76FBFE897BE8

In my favorite city in the world with my favorite girl in the world. Here celebrating Lila’s sweet 16th. Yesterday was all about walking, walking, walking up and down the canals. Today was filled with flower markets, canals boats and amazing food. Tomorrow, museums and bike rides. We miss the boys, but I’m happy to be here just with Lila.

Written by carlenehempel

July 17, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Family

Goodbye to Cuba, for now…

leave a comment »

As usual, it takes me a while to craft my final Dialogue message. It’s so busy upon reentry, and this time was no different. I had to get Lila ready for her Europe trip, and also, devastatingly, I had to say goodbye to Eliza, the best friend I have ever had, who moved just today to Pennsylvania.

But I am finally ready to close down the Cuba conversation until (hopefully) March 2019, when I plan to take students there again to report for Spring Break. (Fingers crossed I can work out all the logistics.) In the meantime, I’ll leave this thread as I always do, with a few words I shared in my final email to the students:

I have to admit: I loved coming into that house and seeing so many of you working late into the night – on the front porch, in that little Middle earth room, in the kitchen. You toiled away, writing and rewriting, editing and reediting. No complaints about the edits. No fussing about being sent back again and again and again for more information.
And look at what you did. You produced truly impressive works of journalism. These pieces and packages are smart, detailed, authoritative, full of context and story and narrative and life. I’m not sure I have ever brought students into a more complicated and difficult place from which to report. This was damn hard because of the language, and the consent forms and the government and the rain. And it is with great, great pride and satisfaction that I look over the scope and range and breadth of your work. I am so proud of you, and I hope you feel the same about yourself.

That pretty much sums it up. For me, working and living in Cuba, with that particular collection of students, was a profoundly satisfying and magical experience. I will never forget it. I leave with one final picture, my favorite in fact, snapped of me at sunset by Mike at the ocean’s edge in Varadero. What a gift, all of it. I’m sad to say good bye.

Carlene Hempel in Cuba 2018

Written by carlenehempel

June 23, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Life in Cuba

The last day…

leave a comment »

It wasn’t easy saying goodbye to Cuba a couple of weeks ago. I am always torn when leaving a Dialogue country because the experience is always so profound. But Cuba was exceptional, special. Our host organization, Centro de Estudios Martianos, was supportive and accommodating and courageous to allow 21 journalists to do work under their name. Our handlers Emily Moran and Helene Jouen, plus our guides, translators and drivers Lili, Joel, Eric, Oscar, Mandi and Lazarus, were treasures every one. And the women and men who took care of us in the casa every day – from Aleida, the woman who owns the magnificent house we lived in and worked from, to the cooks, the house and kitchen staff, our security guards and the handymen – were caring, watchful, protective, supportive, and genuinely loving. They made sure we were well, and when we weren’t, they sat bedside and cared for us. They fed us two amazing meals a day, and made sure their beautiful house was spotless for us. (Considering how some of these students kept their rooms, that was a feat to behold.) They cried when we left and I cried too. Last days  on these programs are often hard, but this one I won’t forget. In fact, I was so impacted that on that same day, I made arrangements with our hosts, and my university to go back with another set of students on Spring Break 2019. Cuba has so much more to say to us, and we have so much more we can say on behalf of it. So for once, this last day proved to only be a pause. I am already looking forward to my return.

 

Written by carlenehempel

June 18, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Life in Cuba

Excursions…

with one comment

We took a number of trips away from Havana while we were working and studying there for a month. My favorite was Trinidad – a beautiful, quiet, nearly carless city about six hours away from Havana. We also went to Matanzas, Las Terrazas, the Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) and Veradero, where we stayed at an ocean-side resort. I’m including just a few pictures and captions from these wonderful adventures.

Written by carlenehempel

June 15, 2018 at 11:04 pm

Posted in Life in Cuba

Good cheer, even though…

leave a comment »

One of the things that most distinguished this tremendous group of students was their work ethic and their unbelievable resilience and good cheer. Reporting from Cuba was damn hard. It was hot, and then it was p-o-u-r-i-n-g for days because of a tropical storm system that swept over us. The language barrier of course was always there. But also no one had use of a phone except for mine, Mike’s or Danny’s. The only wifi was at hotel lobbies, through $2 scratch-off internet cards that work for an hour. And they had to pay for their own cabs to take them to appointments – many of which produced no-shows and late-shows. And of course, most of them were sick, nursed back to health by the staff at our residencia, until their systems got used to Cuban food and water. Through all of this, I never heard them complain. Not once. They were hard-working, diligent, mature, always respectful of me, their hosts and their sources. And they did amazing work. (We’re still finishing the magazine. It should be posted within a week.) This particular group of students was the perfect collection for Cuba. I was lucky to have them, and wonder if I’ll ever be able to assemble another quite like them. I’ve included a few pictures to show them at work. Click on any for a slideshow with captions.

Written by carlenehempel

June 15, 2018 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Life in Cuba