Sitting in a circle in this outdoor classroom, all embracing some type of percussion instrument with the local instructor clapping a new rhythm, the students from Breck School were totally engaged. Yet they were not the only ones. All around the perimeter were young and old, cathedral workers and neighborhood children, the Dean and visiting clergy, all enjoying both the music lesson and these strange young creatures from Minnesota who had come to Cuba.
20 young people and 4 adults (of which I was one) had come to both learn and experience the religion, music, culture and customs of Cuba. The Dean, the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado Del Carpio, and I spent time explaining both the history of the Episcopal Church in Cuba but also it’s relationship to the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. The group also had the opportunity to travel outside of Havana and to learn about other Cuban religious traditions.
Those who attended last year’s Convention would be familiar with these young people as the Bato Bato marimba group from Breck that played at our Friday night dinner. This group has grown very popular in the Twin Cities especially among local artists. Through these connections they were able to make arrangements with musicians in Cuba to spend time each day teaching them Cuban music. Potentially the most memorable was a session with a conservatory for young musicians a half hour out of Havana where they jammed with students 8-19 years old.
The students also had plenty of opportunity to explore and learn about the political history and natural resources of Cuba – even spending one day at a swamp where they saw three species of birds not known to be anywhere else in the world. It never hurts to have a Breck teacher with Phd in biology who is fluent in Spanish along to interpret on lots of levels!
Unquestionably these young people’s lives were deeply enriched by this experience. Yet, also was the Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s, by being able to broaden our growing relationship with the Episcopal Church in Cuba and by exposing our young people at Breck to part of both our history and our future.