Galesburg-Cuba connection spans classrooms to cigars

Each snapshot tells a story for Dr. Lori Sundberg.

"Cuban people have a strong sense of culture," she said.

The Carl Sandburg College president just returned from an eight-day, eye-opening exchange with other Illinois education leaders in Cuba.

"You can see it in their faces," she recalled.

A trip that's really all about learning.

"It's a study in the ways that Communism works, and the ways in which it doesn't," she said.

The U.S. and Cuba recently relaxed some diplomatic, travel and trade restrictions.

This trip got the go-ahead based on education.

As part of the exchange, one of the Cuban professors they met will spend time in Illinois this fall.

"To go to college here, you have to pay for it," she said.  "There, it's free.  But their buildings, their resources are not in good shape."

Dr. Sundberg discovered a close connection with the arts in Cuba.

She returned with vibrant stories and sought-after cigar souvenirs.

Still, there's a stark contrast with freedom.

It's a place where time seems to stand still, and the residents are always coming up with ways to do more with less.

Those warm memories feel even richer back in subzero Galesburg.

For Dr. Sundberg, it was quite a close look at a distant place.

"My biggest takeaway is what I didn't know about Cuba," she concluded.

Snapshot stories from Cuba that will leave a lasting impression.