A Week in Havana with Eastern University - Part 2


February 25- March 4, 2017

Sherry Kull – traveling with Linda Beck, Julia Stewart, June Phillips, Susan Zacharkiw, Krysta Zacharkiw, Dawn Spaar, Frieda Brinkmann, Ingrid Cooper, Molly Rozbeh, Stephen & Christine Kim

Monday February 27th

“Where are they? Why is Julia late? Where are June and Ingrid?”

After being reminded the day before to be on time for our group departures, it was odd that our leader, Julia, and two of our party were missing.  Julia finally showed up nearly 15 minutes late, and we heard the shocking story.

June had been mugged!

The night before, five of us had walked together to a lovely restaurant for dinner and returned around 10 o’clock. We separated to go to our various B&B’s, and June and Ingrid walked on to their house. Each had a room on a different floor of the home, so Ingrid took the shortcut to the second floor while June unlatched the gate to go in the front door. It was very dark out. Like other third world countries I have traveled in, street lights are much sparser than at home.  June immediately sensed someone was behind her, and he grabbed her purse and started pulling.



       "It all happened so fast.  No time to think."




It all happened so fast. No time to think.  June resisted, and the mugger punched her in the head—hard. She apparently had the purse strap around her hand and she felt pain both in her hand and where he had punched her. Screaming at the top of her lungs, June released the bag and the assailant fled into the darkness. Ingrid came running and they got inside and locked the front door. By now, neighbors were also running to the scene, but the women would not unlock the door. Neighbors called the police and the homeowners, who were out for the evening, a fact everyone suspected the assailant knew.

Then began June and Ingrid’s journey into a whole new cultural experience in Cuba, as they spent hours first at the hospital and then with the police. Everyone June met with apologized to her, from police to doctors. They were all quite shocked at the incident, telling her that it had been at least ten years since anything like that had happened in that area. The next morning, June had to return to the police station at 10 a.m. to meet with a lawyer since she’d be leaving the country before the case was closed. The lawyer also apologized.

June was a trooper, as everyone who helped her in the next 24 hours attested. She lost about 50 CUCs (~ $55.00), which isn’t a lot to an American, but is a month’s salary for many in Cuba. She lost her old phone, which she was planning to replace anyway.  Thankfully, we were told not to carry our passports around with us, so she didn’t lose that. 

It could have been worse. Although x-rays revealed no concussion, June had a severely blackened eye and bruised hand all week.  She looked like she’d been through, well, a mugging.  But she was intrepid and didn’t let it slow her down or intimidate her at all. Instead, she covered her eye with makeup as best she could and enjoyed herself.  Sometimes being an experienced world traveler as June was is the best way to keep a good perspective.

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    June, bottom right, enjoying drinks & music at sunset at the Hotel Nacional

June, bottom right, enjoying drinks & music at sunset at the Hotel Nacional

As you can imagine, we were all a bit jittery after this, at least for a few days. We didn’t let anyone walk alone after dark when returning to our homes, and Stephen Kim, our lone male traveling companion (and Eastern Old Testament professor), graciously took it upon himself to walk with our women whose houses were the furthest from the rest of the group.

Honestly, though, after a couple of days, and speaking for myself only, my fear dissipated. I felt safe again, though taking no unnecessary chances since the mugger had not been caught. During the day, I walked around my neighborhood by myself to see the architecture and visit the local store.

If June can do this, so can I.


Read on to Part 3 --> Architecture, Cuban style


Sherry Kull, MDiv, PhD, is the Senior Instructional Designer for Chalk & Table.  Sherry also serves on the university's Faculty Development Committee.
Prior to joining Eastern in 2009, Sherry worked for many years at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, PA. She designed their non-traditional, cohort-based MDiv program that was delivered in a blended format. She also led Biblical into its first fully online course offerings.
Sherry’s first position at Eastern was in the School of Management Studies, with one of her duties being to train SMS’s adjuncts how to teach blended or online courses. This was the genesis of the training that has been expanded university-wide and now includes implementation of Quality Matters throughout Eastern. Sherry continues to practice and sharpen her online skills with more than ten years’ experience teaching fully online courses.
Outside of Eastern, Sherry is part-owner of K9JYM, a dog-training facility in Colmar, PA. The JYM provides training classes in nearly all dog sports and hosts competitions of various sorts on the weekends. Sherry works on the management end of the business, and enjoys training with her Australian Shepherd mix Rudy in the sport of canine agility.