The main bulk of our field research in Cuba came to an end. In this deep dive into Cuba I have gone on a personal swing of emotional and ideological ups and downs.
I have understood and misunderstood little fragments of Cuba. I’ve experienced fugitive moments of clarity, of connection with the Cuba’s experience. Then there are other moments when everything seems absurd. One simple anecdotal example: Cuban hospitals have incredible doctors and attentive, free care. Yet, Cuban hospitals have no toilet paper.
Now we are getting ready to put together a publication. To start this new phase, we met with our research team for a weekend retreat on the farm of Teatro de los Elementos in Cumanayagua. In the next two months we will all be writing, drafting, editing, debating, revising. As we brainstormed the publication’s content and structure, we were all aware that we won’t be just ranting about ‘young people and climate change in Cuba’. We are telling a story of Cuba.
So as story tellers we become omnipresent narrators. Disclaimer: these stories are based on our work, shaped by our sources and dictated by the present moment. But still – this is a big deal. Because Cuba is different, is misunderstood, is polarized, is polarizing.
To tell a story of Cuba it is important to have a clear voice. This becomes messy to do when you are trying to craft a balanced story with the input of clashing voices.
We have a research team of 10 Cuban young people, from three main regions in Cuba. Each one brings something unique; their individual experience with the research process, their style, their swag, their (strong) opinions, their contacts, and their little pieces of the story they feel is important to share. Then there is the Recrear research team. Cuba is a different world, and we are aliens. Aliens aware that what is told in Cuba can resonate very strangely outside of it. So the challenge is telling a story that can resonate at least within all of us as a team, without alienating anybody.
What we want to share are the best practices that have made Cuba’s work on climate change adaptation well respected. At the same time, we want to place young people at the center of this discussion. We cannot avoid talking about the paradox and debates that are inseparable from what it means to be young in Cuba today.
The whole process of transforming months of work together into a coherent publication is going to be sophisticated intercultural cha-cha-cha.
– Gioel G.