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ub's cuban odyssey
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UB's Cuban Odyssey
At 37, Michael Diebold was the senior member of the group. A flight attendant for Continental Airlines who flies mostly to Latin America, he speaks fluent Spanish and will pursue architecture as a sideline career when he finishes his M.Arch. degree at UB.
"I discovered that Cubans are not hung up on attaining material goods; indeed, they don't have any way of doing that," says the Kenmore, N.Y., native, who holds a B.A. in geography from UB. "They are not hung up on commercialism-it's just not in their culture. I like the Cubans' lack of concentration on things like cell phones, who's going out with whom, what neighborhood does one live in, etc. I felt a lack of classism and status-consciousness there."
Some conversations were limited in scope.
"I think many Cubans don't dare to think about the areas I was most interested in asking about," he says. "I didn't see a point in asking, 'What will you do when Cuba changes?' because political change is something they don't dare think about. Most people I came in contact with were born after the Revolution. It would be like asking Americans, 'What would you do if you found yourself in a communist country tomorrow?' It's such a foreign idea. They see things in a micro way, I guess, and we see things in a macro way, in terms of world events."