Cuba will become a classroom for Illinois educators.
Presidents from Black Hawk and Carl Sandburg colleges are joining a special delegation hosted by the Illinois Community College Board in mid-February.
It's hard to imagine a harsher contrast.
There's wicked weather in Galesburg. In Cuba, the climate is balmy and tropical.
"It's a totally different world," said Dr. Lori Sundberg, president of Carl Sandburg College.
And, there's a totally different government and way of life.
As frigid relations begin to thaw, Dr. Sundberg will be part of a remarkable trip.
"I really hope to learn about the history, the culture," she said.
Dr. Sundberg will travel to Cuba on February 14. That's where she'll join a group of Illinois community college leaders.
Black Hawk College President Bettie Truitt will also take part in the trip.
"It's just a tremendous opportunity to go to a country where education is held in such high regard," said Dr. Sundberg.
Just last month, both countries announced easing some diplomatic, travel and trade restrictions. This trip meets the criteria by focusing on education.
"From what I understand, teachers are held in very high regard there," she said.
While it's a long way from Galesburg to Cuba, this cultural exchange should pay educational dividends.
Cuba has tried to do more with less for decades. As Illinois schools face financial challenges, there are some similarities within vast differences.
"I want to take a look at how they've been able to accomplish what they have with very limited resources," she said.
The Illinois delegation will be bridging cultures and climates for education.
"The opportunity to learn is tremendous," she concluded.
These will be real lessons about life to connect Cuba with Illinois colleges.