Our story starts on the island of Manhattan.
My late father, Dr. Ronald W. Davidson, was a pioneer of alternative medicine. In our house, we were taught about our family heritage, history, and wellness at an early age. Each morning, he would call my sisters and I to drink fish oil. He would also tell us stories. One day, he taught me about the leaders of Cuba. He told me that Che Guevara was a doctor and Fidel Castro was an attorney. Something about their philosophies and professions stuck with me. They became iconic freedom-fighters to me and career-wise, I followed in the footsteps in Castro.
By the time I visited Cuba for my first time in 2009, I was a young, corporate attorney. I had recently started at a well-regarded law firm in New York and went to Cuba to attend an international Labor-Law Conference as a US-Delegate with the National Lawyer’s Guild.
While in Havana, I went on a 30-minute walk with a friend. I was awed by the beautiful, multi-colored architecture. It reminded me of my homeland of New York. I saw the promise of the island amid its challenges. After the El Período Especial (The Special Period)--denoting the tightening of US Embargo law and the fall of the Souviet Union that led Cuba into a crippling economic crisis--many buildings were nearly condemned. But the Cuban people we doing something special--they didn’t just abandon the buildings. They repurposed them. This is what I love about the Cuban character: resilience and resourcefulness.
I’m a child of the Cold War. I felt the differences between the U.S and Cuba—the differing diplomatic ideologies. The battle between democracy and communism. Capitalism and socialism. When then US President, Barack Obama, and then Cuban President, Raúl Castro, made the announcement on December 17, 2014 that the two countries would strengthen relations, I knew that I had to contribute to this change. I thought, how do we open the door between the US and Cuba? Programming. Travel. Trade. I had to go back to Cuba and build.
Shortly after, I drove from Manhattan to Miami, to take a chartered flight to Cuba. During that trip, I strengthened and built connections that made it possible to start Diaspora Travel & Trade in 2015.
The first program that we did was a week-long Intensive Dance Program. We took down professional dancers to learn Cuban salsa and casino. We danced 4-5 hours a day, sweating in the sunlight, and traveled throughout the island for cultural exchange activities. It was emotional and moving journey, but it wasn’t perfect. We kept building connections to enrich experiences for our clients. Since then, our international team has organized over 20 full Programs/Projects for universities and individuals alike.
And it was the perfect fit for me because I’ve always loved the ambition of business, the profoundness of wandering, and the adventurous nature of travel.
I was raised by people from all over the world. My love for water and islands came from family summers in Jamaica. My love for Black & Indigenous folk came from my family heritage of Black Americans in Louisiana, visiting reservations and experiencing the mix of cultures. My love for Cuba came from the whispers of grandmother, pulling out portraits and telling stories our family that migrated to Cuba.
In my last decade of travel to Cuba, I’ve been to eastern and western parts of Cuba, Santiago De Cuba, La Habana, Matanzas, Varadero, and Pinar Del Rio. I’ve traveled to South Africa, Jamaica, China, Martinique, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Norway, France, Italy, Singapore, Thailand, Hawaii, Amsterdam, and throughout the United States.
So, our company is just an offering from one wanderer to another--explore the world and you’ll explore deeper parts of yourself in the process.
Un Abrazo to your future journey,
Kasara E. Davidson