Washington State University freshman and Fallon born Garrett Kalt is embarking on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Kalt, a broadcast journalism student with a minor in political science, traveled to Havana, Cuba, with 11 other students on Sunday.
According to Washington State University’s website, the trip to Cuba is an enigma to most Americans due to its political situation and its relationship to the United States. The program offers students an opportunity to explore and study a country with a rich history, a unique culture and a fascinating sociopolitical status in the world today.
“I was pretty nervous to tell my parents I applied and got accepted for a school trip to Cuba,” Kalt said. “With the past tension between America and Cuba … I didn’t want my parents to worry about me being over there. They were hesitant at first to the idea but eventually warmed up to it.”
Three teachers will be with the group of students on the trip as well as someone from the U.S. Embassy.
During his stay in Cuba, Kalt said as part of the school program he will meet with American and Cuban journalists working in Havana. The group will visit old and new Havana, as well as schools, museums and sites pertaining to the country’s history and politics, he said. The students will also venture outside Havana to visit the countryside, coastal regions and eco-communities to see how Cuba is working to protect its natural resources and botanical beauty.
“This opportunity is an incredible one,” he said. “It gives us complete freedom to find and develop a story we’d like to write or record to be broadcast. I haven’t quite decided what my project will be about, but I’m leaning towards tourism or the political regime.”
Kalt said he’s excited to experience what Cuba has to offer with the culture, cuisine and daily life.
The individuals who were chosen for the program have been meeting throughout the semester to discuss how to behave while in the country, he said. The students were told to always be aware of their surroundings and to be safe with their decisions and how they conduct themselves.
“I think one thing I will be doing while on this trip is to make sure I’m listening to the people I engage with,” he said. “I feel like one responsibility of a journalists is to listen to what people have to say while remaining impartial.”
Kalt and the other students were advised to bring Canadian money due to the better exchange rate.
One scholarship Kalt received from the Fallon Theaters had a helping hand in making the trip financially feasible. He said he is thankful for the scholarship and the individuals who allowed him to use it for the trip.
“I’m so grateful and excited for the opportunity to venture to a country that is under transformation and still not open to everyone,” Kalt said. “I hope I’m able to gain a lot from this trip and visit again in the future to see how much it has changed. This opportunity is hands on journalism. It will allow me to share a story about two nations and report the truth and I’m excited for that.”