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Coffee Shop Talk – Three Views of Cuba: Ours, Theirs and the Truth

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By Erin Hannon

Photo Courtesy of Yahoo Images
Photo Courtesy of Yahoo Images

On Oct. 1 at Mill Mountain Coffee,Dr. Lynn Talbot held a Coffee Shop Talk, entitled Three Views of Cuba: Ours, Theirs and the Truth.Mill Mountain held a packed audience, with only enough space left for standing room. The crowd was composed of both students from Roanoke College and outside community members.

Dr. Talbot discussed her recent trip to Cuba and what she had learned there. A brief overview of Cuban history was given, providing background knowledge to help explain how Cuba became the country that we know today.Talbot specifically discussed some of the most important events in modern Cuban history such as the rise of communism, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. An important thing to note is that not only did these events have a huge impact on Cuba, but they also had a major effect on American society.

All this connected to the main point of Talbot’s presentation: Americans and Cubans view our shared history in two very different ways.It was discussed at the talk that as Americans, our view of Cuba is very different from the way that the Cubans see themselves. In most American history classes, we see the U.S. portrayed as a heroic savior. This is not the case for the Cubans. Instead, they see the United States as more of an aggressive bully. Historical events, like the Bay of Pigs, have a much different tone.

As well as providing facts about Cuban history,Talbot also shared personal stories about her travels and the many unique people she met while there. She talked about visiting local Cuban schools, meeting and talking to friendly locals, and getting a taxi ride in the classic cars that fill Cuba’s streets.

Throughout the presentation,Talbot shared remarkable photos taken while on her trip to Cuba. These included pictures of the tourist attractions and scenery, but also of everyday life, such as farm workers and school children. After the presentation, Dr. Talbot opened up the floor for discussion and the crowd was invited to ask questions. The audience asked about a number of different topics from the Cuban economy to typical Cuban food.

The presentation and discussion provided the audience a new look into Cuban history and Cuban society,which was meant to inspire the audience to try and look at both sides of history.