Recently, I met Paula Goldstein through our mutual friend and globetrotting DJ, Mia Moretti. Paula runs a sweet website named Voyage d’etudes, focusing on travel, and women doing inspirational things abroad.

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(Paula Goldstein, Founder/Editor of Voyage D’etudes)

How did it all come together? “I spent most of my 20s living out of a half-unpacked suitcase” confesses Paula. “My jet-set journey from small town Essex, was touch-and-go at times but also exceptionally lucky.” After many colorful adventures traveling the world (some light moments, some dark moments), Paula began a “global girl gang” of sorts, to share stories, and hold space for each other.  It was a place “conceived to share the wealth of support and knowledge I was given by my network of female friends”.

“The world is bigger when we’re united” she declares of the mantra. “And I believe our stories are what bring us together. Voyage D’etudes is a place to celebrate travel that is less about tuning out, and more about tuning in together.” Needless to say, I was honored to embark on a conversation about Cuba with the passionate lady. It was a topic of deep interest to her given that her husband is Cuban. Well, I’ll say no more, and let her take it from here. The following is a piece from our chat…

Thanks for the love, Paula.
Keep that wanderlust poppin!
-Jauretsi

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In true Global Girl Gang fashion I was connected to Jauretsi Saizarbitoria by our mutual friend Mia Moretti, after I read about her talk on connectivity and it’s resulting changes in Cuba. My husband is a Miami Cuban, so I have a lot of personal interest in anything about this largely isolated island nation. Ironically, Jauretsi and I struggled to connect across several mediums, yet after a series of bounced emails and missed messages her story arrived, and it was well worth the wait.

Paula: Firstly, tell me a little bit about you, Jauretsi.

Jauretsi: I’m a Leo, a media girl, an ex-New Yorker, and present expat in Cuba, who’s on a constant journey trying to figure it all out. I’m sure the insatiable curiosity stems from my roots, being part Cuban, part Basque — 2 proud (with a capital “P”) cultures, obsessed with independence while finding their place in this world. I sort of laugh about it. It’s in my DNA.

P: Where did you grow up?

J: Miami Beach, where it all started, the land of the Cuban exiles. It’s also the land that set my thermostat. Love heat. Hate winters. Big ocean girl.

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P: What do you do?

J: Currently, I’m a Producer in Cuba, supporting all things that are the New Cuba. I’ve worked on everything from documentaries to music projects to art consulting to tech initiatives. I also now provide travel experiences, bringing lots of great industry friends to the island to immerse themselves in the new Cuba.

P: You run the “New Cuba,” tell me about that… What is the mission?

J: It’s funny because I called it The New Cuba early on, not quite sure what it would be. I just knew that I wanted to explore all things “New Cuba,” and that I didn’t want to be limited by sector. So today, the New Cuba (both the website editorial and my services) tends to observe and honor this new incarnation through the lens of culture. The mission is to break from this cliche that Cuba is stuck in the past. It’s actually an emerging market, bursting with new energy and fresh ideas.

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P: Cubans are very proud, and there is a very rich history there. What do you think people in Cuba would want the rest of the world to know more about them as a country, beyond the obvious politics?

J: The thing with young Cubans is that they have been raised their whole lives with a strong narrative pushed onto them from their own society. Then there is this outside faction of “Anti-Castros” who are also pushing their own agendas onto the residents. I think the younger Cubans are more awake than we understand. They are trying to create a new definition of what it means to be Cuban, and how they want their society to move forward. I think they want to be seen as individuals, looking to join the world market. The lack of global media on the island contributes to this information black hole, but we’re slowly seeing a DIY market emerge, with young creatives expressing themselves through fashion, film, tech, and design. This is a youth culture that wants to maintain the fruits of the revolution, yet discard what didn’t work. How this plays out is a mystery, and only time will tell.

P: Cuba is changing a lot right now. What do you attribute that shift to?

J: This year will be the most transformative year Cuba has had in generations. This April 2018, Raul Castro (Fidel’s brother) is stepping down from power. That means it’s been 59 years that Cuba has been ruled by a Castro. Most of the present mechanisms are still in place with the new government, but make no mistake: this is a big tectonic shift, both mentally and spiritually. For the first time in 3 generations, Cuba will be living a post-Castro world. The States’ difficult new mission will be to win the hearts of their youth, and to help fix a broken economy. The reality is that there is a lot of work to do. We are in unchartered territory.

To read the rest of the interview, visit VoyagedeTudes/Jauretsi.

All Photos by Amanda Bjorn, another rad traveling spirit who hosts photo tours in Cuba.
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(Photographer Amanda Bjorn)