Boulder senior center celebrates Cuba Day
- Submitted by: manso
- 07 / 25 / 2011
The smell of empanadas and the sound of traditional Changui music filled the air Saturday as the East Boulder Senior Center celebrated Cuba Day.
Activities included Cuban art, Latin guitar-playing, salsa dancing, movie screenings and Cuban food -- including black beans and coconut rice.
Karen Morgan, senior center program coordinator, said she likes to bring in cultural events every few months.
"We wanted to promote multicultural education to create a better understanding between Americans and other countries," Morgan said.
The event sprouted from the partnership between Boulder and Yateras, Cuba, one of Boulder's seven sister cities.
The Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization hosts events about Cuba and encourages the two cultures to interact. The two cities exchange art and music, and the Boulder organization sends relief items such as medical supplies, bicycles and athletic shoes.
Spense Havlick, a retired University of Colorado professor and member of the Camera's editorial advisory board, started the partnership in 2002.
Back in December 2000, Havlick was a professor on the boat for Semester at Sea, a study abroad option where students travel around the world on a ship. The ship was leaving Brazil when Havlick's students approached him and wanted to have a conversation with Cuba's then-president, Fidel Castro.
"I thought it was a fairly bold request," Havlick said.
The students wrote a letter asking Castro what the youth could do to bring peace to the world and delivered it to Castro. Two days later, more than 800 students met with the leader for a four-hour question-and-answer session, where afterward Castro provided a four-course meal and live music.
After seeing the friendship between the two cultures, Havlick, a Boulder City Council member at the time, appealed to the council to create a sister city in Cuba, and his fellow members unanimously agreed.
"The people love each other -- it's just our governments that don't get along," Havlick said.
The guests who attended Cuba Day were excited to learn more about the country, but some were already familiar with the island. Elaine Azcarate, 72, visited Cuba several times in the '50s, and she describes it as a "wild time" with lots of music and dancing.
She attended Cuba Day hoping to learn more about the current status of the country.
"I'd like to know what's going on down there," Azcarate said. "We don't hear about it as much as we used to when Fidel was active."
The celebration came at an opportune time, as just last week the Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization secured a license to take travelers to Cuba and will begin planning trips to the country in the near future.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Amanda Moutinho at 303-473-1361 or [email protected].
Miriam Paisner, of Boulder, center, dances with Latin dance instructor Adam Taub, also of Boulder, during Cuba Day on Saturday at the East Boulder Senior Center. ( Jeremy Papasso )