Creating connections in the Caribbean

Exeter spring break groups travel to Cuba and Martinique for enriching experiences.

March 26, 2019
Exeter students pose for a photo while exploring Havana, Cuba.

Students looking for some fun in the sun journeyed to Cuba and Martinique where they immersed themselves in the local language, culture and cuisine. Both groups shared valuable experiences with their classmates and teachers while exploring.


Sitting just over 100 miles from the coast of Florida, the country of Cuba has had a long and complicated political history with the United States. Immersing themselves in a land that, until 2015, was off-limits to American tourists, a group of 11 Exonians traveled to the island nation to explore the events that led to the decades of distrust between the two countries and the status of the Cuban economy since relations with the U.S. were normalized. Led by faculty chaperones, Sami Atif, Toyin Augustus and Aykut Kilinc, the group met with university professors, students, artists and farmers to get a holistic perspective on Cuban culture and commerce as part of a program titled Cuba: A Provocative Developmental History.


students hiking in Cuba

In the country’s capital, students enjoyed a walking tour of old Havana and spent time with the children of Proyectongo, an after-school community program focused on the arts, before traveling to the heart of the country to take in the beauty of the Botanical Garden of Cienfuegos. The group explored the country’s intricate history while visiting Museo Girón, a museum on the site of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion; a tour of a former sugarcane plantation, where students learned about the history of the slave trade in the Caribbean; and a trip to Museo de la Revolución, a museum dedicated to the Cuban Revolution.

A highlight of the trip was a post-sunset Harkness discussion along the waterfront grounds of a 500-year-old fort where the students reflected on the many experiences of their trip. 


Ditching ski jackets and snow boots for T-shirts and flip flops, 12 Exeter French students visited the francophone Caribbean island of Martinique. Led by Modern Languages instructors Katherine Fair and Evelyn Christoph, the group’s stops included a tour of a banana museum, a hands-on culinary workshop in classic Créole cuisine and, of course, some time at the beach. While taking in a Carnival parade, the students were interviewed by a local television crew, with Cheikh Fiteni '21 flawlessly conversing in the country’s native tongue. Très bien!

students in Martinique

See more photos from this this group on the Academy's Instagram.