State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) will lead a youth delegation comprising 27 students from Village Leadership Academy’s World Scholars program on a trip to Cuba from June 13 to June 23.
In December 2014, President Barack Obama announced the beginning of a normalization process between the U.S. and Cuba, hailing a new chapter in diplomacy between the two countries. Last year, Obama announced that the U.S. embassy in Cuba would re-open after 54 years of being closed.
And in March, Obama himself made a historic trip to the small country in a gesture of goodwill between the Communist stronghold and the U.S. after more than 50 years of Cold War-related tension.
With the earth-shaking news of eased tension came the aftershock of American celebrities like the Kardashians, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Now, a group of West Siders will take their turn.
“Given the renewed relations between Cuba and the U.S., now is the perfect time for young people to be part of this change that’s going on because it’s going to be their generation who makes sure that the relationship between the two countries continues to grow in the right direction,” Ford said in an interview Monday.
“A lot of times, people don’t see past Chicago and Illinois,” he said. “That’s not just with blacks, but it’s with all nationalities. Many people only know of the area in which they live.”
The youth delegation will travel to Havana and Santiago de Cuba, according to a statement released by Ford’s office.
“The delegation will explore the unique history and culture of each region and engage with Cuban artists, entrepreneurs, educators, youth leaders, and rural residents to better understand the Republic of Cuba’s emerging relationship with the U.S. and how imperialism, globalization and sustained resistance have shaped Cuban culture and life.”