Team of Cuban and US bloggers meets in Havana for exchange of ideas

Posted: 20-Jan-16 11:46

Attending what would later become an impromptu writing workshop and brainstorming session with lively exchanges, in the midst of welcoming the new year and planning out our future goals for 2016; our team of island-based Cuban bloggers recently held a special breakfast meeting organised by our content coordinator, Silvia, with the special guest attendance of one of our US-based bloggers, Rebecca Woodman. Read on to find out more about how this cultural and professional encounter unfolded in a warm and sun-filled Cuban morning.

Team of Cuban and US bloggers meets in Havana for exchange of ideas

During a special breakfast reception recently held in Havana, our team of independent Cuban bloggers got to interact in person with each other for the first time as well as meet of one of our international blogging collaborators from the US, Rebecca Woodman, who journeyed to Cuba to gather some inspiration for her future blogs and write about Cuba from her own perspective as a US citizen who had never previously travelled to the island.

The breakfast meeting, which had the main goal of offering an opportunity for exchange among our Cuban bloggers, whilst introducing them to a foreign one, was organised in a rather casual and informal style – in pure Cubans style. It was initially planned to start at 9 a.m. but didn’t actually kick off until a while later; as everyone knows the Cuban sense of punctuality is quite relaxed and no one really rushes for anything.

Cuba Holidays bloggers in session

Who was there? On the Cuban side we had our trekking blog expert, Alejandro Malagon, our family blogger, Carmen Romero, our storyteller, Ely Milan and her collaborator Charly Morales, yet one of our other storytellers and news writer, Daniela Corona, our audio-visual collaborator, Silvio, and Silvia Padron, our content coordinator and developer.

The encounter happened at the casa particular where Rebecca was staying, La Casa de Maria, and to accompany the lively chat the hosts there served a selection of fruits, juices, coffee, scrambled eggs and buttered toast.

After everyone introduced themselves to the group and commented on their experience writing for Cuba Holidays, each blogger gave a brief overview on the latest blogs they were working on and what their expectations were in regards to continuing collaborating with us.

After minutes of conversation it became evident that even when much has been said about the Cubans and the Americans from both sides of the pond; they still largely remain as two nations that hardly know each other.

Rebecca went on to enlighten her Cuban counterparts on some typical US customs like what time they eat dinner, when they usually go out to party, what are their common fears and what misconceptions (or myths) they hold regarding Cuban people or Cuba in general. It was a great exercise to engage in as it helped all bloggers get a better, truer and clearer picture of each other and the online audience that read their blogs.

Writers would make up the draft for an imaginary blog they would write

Another experimental exercise also took place, where writers would make up the draft for an imaginary blog they would write. It soon turned into an improvised writers’ workshop where they each analysed how information was presented to readers, the different styles of titles that would draw the audiences, capture their interest and make them immediately engage with the text, the tone of voice, essential information to be included, the coherence between title and the main body of text, whether questions were fully answered and the different strategies of sharing their blogs on social media channels.

The biggest challenge for our Cuban writers is the fact that most haven’t travelled outside of Cuba and they take for granted most aspects that make up their Cuban daily life; which in turn sometimes makes them overlook details that may be of great interest to outsiders and foreign readers. This can lead them to often being vague on some issues and miss out on great opportunities to give specific tips or peculiar insight that may be of invaluable help for an UK or American tourist with no prior knowledge of the country.

Rebecca went on to enlighten her Cuban counterparts on some typical US customs

Topics up for discussion which we concluded to be of great importance ranged between the different modes of transport in Cuba, telephone and mobile phone coverage as well as internet connectivity, what to expect or how to navigate in different social situations, what things were a must for packing, how much money to bring and what sanitary precautions to take during their time in the island (like what water to drink, what or where not to eat) and other issues like how much cigars they could export or common rules for booking stays in casas particulares.

It was a sunny day, a bit hot (no surprise there!) but which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, especially thanks to the added Cuban flair and sense of humour that kept everyone smiling and joking.

At the end of the meeting, the group of Cuban bloggers gifted Rebecca with a bottle of Cuban rum as a memoir of the event and something to remember them by.

“I’ll drink it to your health!

She joyfully remarked.


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