Dan Rivera

Dan Rivera ’17 Studied Abroad in Cuba

You can imagine what it feels like to go from the United States to a completely homogenous population that doesn’t have the same racial tensions we do. And you’re an international student, representing the United States. The typical American, international-wise, is white, so as a person of color I had that difference to confront as well. Having all of that in mind can only make your experience better or worse.

In my case, it enriched my experience. It was such a good conversation-starter. When I’d start speaking Spanish then go off into English, they were like, ‘Wait, what the hell? You’re obviously not Cuban…but I thought you were Cuban.’ Puerto Rican, yeah. Close enough to Cuba, we’re right next to each other.

But, yeah, it was an amazing experience. I have a serious love for politics, so going from a capitalist system to a socialist, leaning communist system was mind-blowing. People talked to me about Castro when I was in Cuba. There was conspiracy that he was already dead and Cubans believed it, but he was alive all this time. And now he’s dead, which is surprising, but no one survives 2016. I think.