Current MSC Student Joe Martin enjoyed a trip to Cuba over the holiday break – his reflections are below. Enjoy!
Cuba, A trip of a lifetime, yes! Being able to visit a country where the United States had limited access was life changing. President Obama had opened up the doors to a new relationship with Cuba and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to take part in on my father’s Legacy and 10th anniversary of The Joe “Butch” Martin Fund. During my winter break from Graduate school at Northwestern, I decide to create a Humanitarian project where I would visit a world unknown. It was kind of scary because going to Cuba was so new, and no one knew what I needed to do, and I didn’t know what to expect while I was there. If It wasn’t for my high school counselor at E.T.H.S Roz Pollack, a NU alumni, who guided me to the right people, they were able to take care of me from the beginning to the end of the trip. Being in Cuba, my experience was like I was a native, even though I was a tourist. I learned so much about what life was like there and how living there seemed as if you stepped back in time. I couldn’t believe how much Spanish I understood while not practicing for years. I hope Cuba gets everything they need to restore a country that ha een without for so long. Cuba was defiantly a great experience and I hope to go back in the future. I also hope many of you go and visit and see how you can help Cuba too. This humanitarian trip to Cuba was an inspiration with the help of our family fund The Joe “Butch” Martin Fund managed by the Evanston Community Foundation. My Family linked up with Th EFC after my father died because we wanted to do something to honor him and help the Evanston Community. I am glad the foundation was able to help with the process of entering Cuba and help our family fulfill our global responsibility. As a graduate student, I wanted to visit the University of Havana to see what others student’s campus life was like. At Northwestern, we are so fortunate to have so many resources and a world renounced education. The experience was moving to see other student fulling their dreams to have a great education as well. I was also able to donate some items to the people of Cuba, through my sister and Oakton Community College, which they were thrilled to receive as well.
My first night in Cuba I ran into Chicago native rapper/actor Common. He was a real nice guy and asked me why I was there and we took a photo together. I am hoping to attend his foundations gala in Chicago this year as well.
This was my second international trip on behalf of the Joe “Butch” Martin Fund. Around 5 years ago, I visited the Philippines and traveled to the city of Manila to meet Heily Pagod. She is a young girl which our family sponsors in honor of my father’s mother who is Filipino. On my trip, I bought gifts collected by my family members to show Heily she had a family in Evanston who cared.
In addition to sponsoring Hailey, our family donates to the safe water drinking act which provides clean water to children all over the world. We donate to organizations that protect the environment and plant trees every year. We volunteer at The Ronald McDonald House of Chicago and enjoy making a difference in children lives. Besides giving grants to Evanston based nonprofit organizations, we also honor two African American men in the community who do so much and our unsung heroes. We as a family embrace our culture and know that the world is of many colors and we make sure that we represent everyone and protect the environment as well.
On our 10th anniversary this fall with the Joe “Butch” Martin Fund our family still follows the vision we created which is Family, Legacy, & Tradition. As Evanstonions, we want my father’s legacy to remain so generations from now will benefit from what the Martin family started. For the 10th anniversary benefit this September we are hoping to raise $35,000 which is what is needed to have the fund going forever. Being the first African American family to create our fund under the ECF’s umbrella was one of the greatest things we could have ever done. As our 10th year approaches, we have some new projects we are working on that will help maintain our legacy and provide great opportunities for our Evanston community.
MSC Class of 2017