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Alma de Cuba: Reflections of a Cuban Soul

ISBN: 9781530269426
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Edition: 1
Publication Date: 2016-04-15
Number of pages: 160
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For many years, the country that my family fled in 1961 was simply an island in my imagination. After years of seeing Cuba only in my dreams, I finally witnessed the beauty of the “Pearl of the Antilles.” Thirty-eight years after my family left their homeland, I spent three weeks in Cuba for a summer study program at the University of Havana, a trip which enabled me to appreciate the island’s beauty, and more importantly, to witness the realities of the revolution. Six months later, in January 2000, I attended the inaugural U.S.-Cuba Writers' Conference sponsored by the Writers of the Americas. In December 2003, while pursuing my master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, I returned to the island to conduct research for my master’s thesis on the cultural significance of Cuba’s patron saint, La Virgen de la Caridad. My grandparents chose to leave their homeland not only because they disagreed with the radical course of Fidel Castro’s revolution, but also because they did not want to raise their five children in a country where they could not practice their Catholic faith freely. Although they lost all of their possessions when they left Cuba, they retained their faith in God. It is this faith, I believe, that guided them through the difficulties of exile and enabled them to achieve success in a foreign country which today they proudly consider their home. Through Alma de Cuba, I seek to ensure that their story is never forgotten by future generations of the DeRojas family. Alma de Cuba can be translated in two ways: “Cuban Soul,” or literally, “Alma from Cuba.” As the granddaughter of Cuban exiles, I am “from” Cuba. My blood has always been Cuban, but I did not fully appreciate my heritage until I chose to travel to the island. Yet blood alone, I now realize, is not sufficient to make a person Cuban. One must also possess a desire to be Cuban, a desire that has inspired my personal journey of “cubanization.” In solitude, with my words, I continue to create mi alma cubana, my Cuban soul.

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