Recently by Alden Jones:

It was around the time I met Victor that he started actively trying to get out of Cuba. He worked in tourism, illegally, and between jobs he fought for the paperwork to move to Spain. We worked together for a summer, then I went back to the States, and he was still where I left him when I came back to Cuba the following summer to work again. I was employed by a program for American high school students that combined educational travel with casual coursework. For me, being in Cuba, though my job occupied me around the clock, was like a holiday.

When I saw Victor again he didn’t look well. His body, as before, was solid: he was shorter than I was, which is to say below the height of the average American woman, and his arms and back were sturdy and masculine and muscled, his trunk square… More…

They're a peaceful and friendly, and want us to be free of fear and suffering.

I went to Burma accidentally. This was almost exactly a year before the September 2007 violence against peaceful demonstrators, many of them Buddhist monks, made the country front-page news. I was traveling by ship, circumnavigating the globe as a teacher on the academic program Semester at Sea; I hadn’t chosen the itinerary. For me and the 600 other Americans on the ship, Burma was one stop on a whirlwind tour of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

At the time I was, like most Americans, woefully ignorant of the dire state of affairs in Burma. I learned only weeks before my arrival that tourism in Burma was controversial, and that activists, including world leaders I admired, discouraged travel to Burma. The country now officially known as Myanmar was ruled by a brutal dictatorship whose only philosophy concerned the maintenance of its own power. (They’d also “reclaimed” Myanmar — the country’s… More…

I could not get used to the windows in Classroom 3. They ran from floor to ceiling, lining the entire portside wall. The Pacific Ocean rolled by. Later, in other seas, there would suddenly be land when we weren’t expecting to see land, or The Voice would come over the speakers and announce the sighting of sea turtles, and we’d all have to stop what we were doing and run over to see for ourselves. After a week, the students had gotten better about not staring out at the wavering horizon; I still found those windows distracting.

“Help me close the shades,” I said, and began to lower the one closest to the podium. Collective groan. “Sorry,” I said. “We’re looking at slides today.”

I powered up the overhead projector. The ship rocked. I clutched at the podium. The first time my balance faltered, the students laughed; now it was… More…