Rachel Gronberg Cultural Commentary: Lunch with Anna Lidia Vega Serova

I was given the opportunity to go to lunch with Russian-Cuban writer Anna Lidia Vega Serova and two other students, both of whom are seniors here at Davidson. We went to Toast and enjoyed a lovely brunch while we talked in Spanish. Anna Lidia has very unique perspectives as an openly gay woman in Cuba. She explained that homophobia is apparent in Cuba but that there is a positive change occurring. Anna and her partner cannot legally get married but are registered as partners by legal terms, and Anna Lidia had a huge smile across her face as she talked about her son, daughter, and puppy back at home in Cuba.

After the Trump administration has come into power, relations between American and Cuba have become significantly more strained than during the progress that was made under Obama. After asking about the trouble she ha to face to visit us here at Davidson, she paused every few sentences to say “es muy complicado…” as she tried to explain what it entailed to get a visa to enter the country, to get through Miami before flying to North Carolina, and even to get a sim card that had minutes for her phone to work. “¿Todo es un processo, no?”

Anna Lidia is a very warm woman. Although I was nervous to go to lunch with her because I am not fluent in Spanish but am still learning, I did not need to understand every word she said to feel as though she valued my presence at lunch. She laughed at my jokes and asked me to order her meal for her since she doesn’t know a lot of English. As I walked her back to Wall for her next class, she asked me how I became so good at speaking Spanish as a freshman at Davidson. She then laughed with me when I admitted that I didn’t know exactly where in Wall her next class was, and we wandered a round together to find it.

I am glad that I took this opportunity despite the nerves of having a very small, intimate group setting in a language that I am not fluent in in only my third week here at Davidson. The kindness that flowed through Anna Lidia was contagious, and she had an important perspective to share about being a lesbian and about international relations, two topics that I hold close to my heart.

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