This spring, Greenwich High School Band students will get a rare opportunity to serve as musical ambassadors in Cuba, a communist island nation which has been under a United States economic embargo for 50 years.
In a letter sent to GHS Band parents and students Wednesday, Headmaster Chris Winters announced the trip.
"I am very excited about the possibility for our band to travel to Cuba this April. With its rich musical history, Cuba offers a fascinating destination for our students," Winters said in the letter. (Please see attached PDF.)
"The final itinerary will be developed over the next several months. Activities will include GHS Band performances at Cuban schools, attending peer and professional level performances, master classes, cultural and historical tours, and a humanitarian project," according to a FAQ sent to parents. (Please see attached PDF.)
Winters explains in the letter that if there are "any travel warnings from the State Department" even "if up to the day of departure," then the trip will not proceed.
According to the U.S. Department of State, "travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and permanent residents is restricted by U.S. law and regulations, and travelers generally must obtain a license or qualify for an existing license from the Department of Treasury," which "restrict the activities and transactions in which U.S. citizens and residents may engage while in Cuba."
Further, per the State Department," The United States Government, which does not maintain full diplomatic relations with Cuba, is represented by the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, which provides a range of consular and other services."
The same departure policy was implemented for the was last overseas trip the GHS Band embarked on in April 2010 when more than 200 band students, faculty and chaperones traveled to Greece for a 12-plus day educational experience. The students performed 8 times during the trip including a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in the world renowned ancient amphitheater of Epidarus.
As in any trip whether abroad or states side, the unknown is difficult to plan for. During the Greece trip, a volcanic ash eruption in Iceland shut down air travel, delaying the group's return to Greenwich.
The two years prior, 2008 and 2009, provided trips closer to home on the East Coast, visiting Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach. Other foreign trips for band students included a 2007 13-day trip to China for about 200 GHS Band students and 20+ chaperones and a 2001 trip to London, England.