CubaOne Kicks Off 2017 Among Cuban Millennials and a Historic Meeting with the U.S. Charge D’Affairs in Cuba

CubaOne Kicks Off 2017 in Havana Among Cuban Millennials and a Historic Meeting with the U.S. Charges D’Affairs in Cuba

Young Cuban-Americans reunited with family and explored roots on the journey of a lifetime

MIAMI, FL (Jan. 6, 2017) – CubaOne Foundation, the nonprofit that sponsors family reunification and cultural visits to Cuba for young Cuban-Americans, concluded its one-week visit to the island this week with a historic meeting with U.S. Charge D’Affairs Jeffrey DeLaurentis. The American ambassador welcomed the 10 young Cuban-Americans at his residence in the municipality of Playa for a discussion on the progress that has been achieved since Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic ties.

“We are grateful to Ambassador DeLaurentis and Mrs. Jennifer DeLaurentis for welcoming a new generation of Cuban-Americans to their residence and showing the world what can be achieved through diplomacy,” said Giancarlo Sopo, cofounder and chair of CubaOne Foundation. “We believe in the importance of young Cuban-Americans having a seat at the table in U.S.-Cuba relations,” added Sopo.

In its third trip to the island, CubaOne focused on U.S.-Cuba relations from the perspective of the Cuban people. The 10 CubaOne fellows met with cuentapropistas (independent entrepreneurs), artists, and campesinos (farmers) in Havana and Pinar del Rio last week. Previous visits focused on entrepreneurship and the arts.

“Despite our differences, by building bridges upon a foundation of mutual respect, collaboration, and shared values, CubaOne is inspiring a new generation to think of Cuba beyond black-and-white photos and reconnect with its cultural heritage,” said Lissette Calveiro, an alumnus of CubaOne’s first class who now leads its outreach efforts as a member of its Board of Directors. “This trip truly shed light on the similarities between our group and their peers in Cuba, and helped deepen our connection to the Cuban people”

As in prior visits, CubaOne offered its fellows authentic experiences and opportunities to interact directly with ordinary Cubans. Rather than staying at hotels, the fellows stay in Cuban family homes (casas particulares). They also played street baseball with children in Regla, a municipality with deep Afro-Cuban roots; met young journalists from OnCuba in Vedado; explored Havana on a bicycle tour led by a pair of female cuentapropistas; and listened to local hip-hop performances with Cuban millennials in Centro Habana. CubaOne also organized meetings with young lawyers, designers, and restaurant operators on the island.

“From riding horses with campesinos in Viñales, to playing pelota with Cuban children in Regla, and ringing in the new year with millennial habaneros along El Malecón, CubaOne is helping a new generation develop a personal relationship with the Cuban people,” said Daniel Jimenez, CEO and cofounder of CubaOne.

Cherie Cancio, a cofounder who leads programming for the organization said, “We’re humbled to have the opportunity to visit Cuba with such an amazing group of young Cuban-Americans from across the country. It’s incredibly moving to see them meet their families, walk up the steps of where their abuelos met, and connect with fellow millennials.”

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About CubaOne Foundation: CubaOne Foundation is a Miami-based nonprofit that is introducing a new generation of Cuban-Americans to Cuba and its people. Founded by four young Cuban-Americans, CubaOne has quickly become one of the country’s fastest-growing Latino organizations with over 1,700 millennials applying to its fellowship program.

CubaOne sponsors visits to the island for groups of 10 young Cuban-Americans and encourages its fellows to think of creative ways they can collaborate with their Cuban peers. Launched in 2016, CubaOne Foundation is funded by the generosity of its board, grassroots donors, and grants from non-governmental foundations.

Christina Quintana, an acclaimed New Orleans playwright, meets her grand aunt for the first time

Angelo Guisado, a lawyer from New York and former NCAA pitcher, joined Cuban children in Regla for an inning of pickup baseball

A local Cuban offers CubaOne a guided tour through La Habana Vieja

Ricky Rojas, a filmmaker from Los Angeles, listens to a local habanero from “El Barrio Chino”

Cuban designer R10 showcases his artwork to the CubaOne fellows