Students from Boulder High School are submitting photos this week to a contest on resilience. They are using pictures taken from a photography trip to Cuba in March.
"I thought it was crazy that I got to go to this place that like not many people could go to," Gwen Lohmann, Boulder High School senior, said.
Lohmann was part of a group of 15 students from Boulder High School who went with teacher Dave Blessing to different cities and towns on the island nation. Blessing applied for a visa after the embargo rules were recently changed.
"They allow humanitarian aid and school groups on educational purposes," Blessing said. "I still have a hard time believing we were able to pull it off."
Blessing's son, Tyler, also went. He is in his father's class.
"I thought I was going to be like the only American there, People wouldn't believe I was able to go to Cuba," Tyler Blessing said. "Just a ridiculous opportunity, it would only be a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
The Boulder Valley School District is running a photography contest on resilience. Maya Wilson, who just graduated from Boulder High School, says all they saw in Cuba were examples of resilience.
"The most striking thing was definitely how happy the people were even though you can see that they were struggling," Wilson said.
Lohmann says she was amazed how many people drove classic cars and maintained them for so many years.
"You're like super impressed by all the cars and you're like whoa, I just literally time-traveled back," Lohmann said.
Blessing says what's more important than the pictures are the life lessons learned by his students.
"It's a great combination for the kids to be able to express themselves artistically while they're going through something that's really an emotional thing for them," Blessing said.
Each student has to raise more than $3,000 to go on the nine-day trip. The Cuban government provided a full-time guide, but they did have restrictions on what they could take pictures of. Pictures of police and certain buildings were not allowed.
Lohmann says this experience has had a profound effect on her.
"I'm just grateful for that trip cause it really just like changed my whole outlook on everything," Lohmann said.