I just returned from a visit for a visit with a group of APA Board of Directors to La Habana, Cuba, and I would like to share with you some observations and, if I may, some personal reflections. Our group paid for this trip out of pocket—there were no APA or related funds used for the trip. While there, we met with the Board of Directors of the Sociedad de Psicologia Cubana, the leaders and faculty of psychology at the Universidad de la Habana, as well as the leaders and health psychologists at the Psychology Service at the Hospital Hermanos Almejeiras—the most important advanced tertiary-care hospital in Cuba. In addition, members of APA's Board of Directors delivered eight workshops to approximately 400 enrollees from around Cuba at the original building of the universidad, which was established in 1728.
Since I returned, I honestly have had a hard time formulating my reflections on the trip. Maybe it has to do with returning to chair APA's semi-annual retreat in order to develop priorities for our $120 million budget—a juxtaposition coming from a country where the standard salary is $15 per month. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Cuba is my private life, historically. To lose it all and then try to explain it to others not personally close to you was amazingly difficult.
But I am sure about one thing: We were all changed by this trip. Here are some observations:
- APA and psychology were extremely well-received in Cuba.
- All of us connected with Cubans and Cuba and appreciated their resiliency, resourcefulness and friendliness.
- Similarly, our Cuban colleagues were overjoyed with our presence and collaboration. In addition, we very much enjoyed each other.
- They learned from us and we from them, but all realized the commonality of psychological science and practice.
- Psychology easily bridged the existing gap between our countries.
- I believe that whatever Washington (and for that matter, La Habana) cannot deliver, I am optimistic that psychology can.
One way you can help bridge our historical divide is to find a book that you consider of value to psychologists who have not purchased books for half a century. Send books to:
Dr. Alexis Lorenzo Ruiz
Presidente, Sociedad de Psicologia Cubana
Calle San Rafael No. 1168 entre
Mazon y Basarrate Vedado
Municipio Plaza de la Revolucion
La Habana, Cuba
Let us all make APA and psychology relevant to the world.
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