Learn Spanish & Volunteer in Cuba - 6 weeks

Location
Cuba
9 travelers saved this program

Hosted by

About This Program

Combining the best of our Learn Spanish, Dance & Culture program with meaningful volunteer placements – conservation and community work in Playa Giron, and volunteering in Havana. These volunteer placements will help you connect with Cuban people, understand their culture and history, and give you an opportunity to make a real difference!

Highlights

  • Based in the heart of Old Habana - you will stay in the best, most exciting/vibrant/fun neighborhood in Habana!
  • Our programs include accommodation, meals, Spanish lessons, professional dance lessons, cultural tours and activities, volunteering... everything to help max your time here.
  • All your questions answered about Cuba's history, how Cubans live today and what the future may hold - and how we can learn from Cuba!
  • Program includes a long weekend in Vinales and mid week volunteer placement in Playa Giron to give you a well-rounded view of life in Cuba

Our most ambitious Cuban program! This is a 6 week program that comprises 4 weeks in Havana and 2 weeks on Cuba’s south coast. Two weeks in Havana learning Spanish, dance tuition and cultural excursions are followed by a two week placement at a beachside ‘Campismo’ on Cuba’s south coast. Finally you return to Old Havana to enjoy a final two weeks learning Spanish and volunteering in the city.

Upon arrival Havana International Airport you will be picked up for a transfer to your Casa Particulares*. You will be staying in ‘Casa Jakera’, a licensed Casa Particulare, sharing a dorm room with other student clients OR upon payment single room supplement you have the option to stay in another nearby Casa with your own room and en suite bathroom. Either way breakfast and lunch are served at Casa Jakera and this will be the hub of program activities, as this is also where Spanish lessons are taken as well as group discussions, planning meetings and impromptu social gatherings.

SPANISH LESSONS

Monday to Friday’s intensive Spanish lessons will take place shortly after breakfast. Tuition is delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher and on day one you will receive a short test to establish your level and objectives. Lessons will take the format of 3 x 45 minute lessons each morning, with 15 minute breaks to refresh, making approximately 3 hours of Spanish lessons each day – 15 hours per week. Lessons are held from 09:00 sharp, Monday to Friday at Casa Jakera.

DANCE CLASSES

There are 2 dance classes per week – each approximately one hour duration, during which you will be taken through your paces learning Salsa, Son, Rueda de Casino, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, and Rumba and perhaps a few moves you haven’t heard of… The lessons are delivered a 5 minute walk from your Casa at 'La Casa del Son' by a licensed dance instructor, and in the evenings there are MANY free live music venues where you can do your homework!

VOLUNTEER IN PLAYA GIRON

After two weeks enjoying the sights and sounds of Havana its time to head out of town to our residential volunteer placement. Playa Giron is world renowned because of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion in April 1961 that led to the first US military defeat in Latin America. It is in the heart of the Zapata Swamp, the largest wetlands of the Caribbean islands and one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cuba. There is an abundance of plant, bird and other wildlife, many of them endemic to the area.

You are now in a small quaint local community, where everyone knows everyone and everyone has time for each other; never an air of rush or stress. It feels like you are living in a real Cuban community with a great opportunity to get to know real Cuban people. Tradition is everywhere and the local people appreciate and value it.

You will be staying in Casa Particulars and will have the opportunity to interact and learn about Cuban life in the countryside. Your Spanish language skills will be put to the test too, with constant opportunity to practice and improve your conversational skills.

VOLUNTEER IN HAVANA

In week 5 & 6 it’s back our familiar surroundings in old Havana. You will apply skills developed working as a team in Playa Giron to volunteer projects. Spanish lessons will resume during these final two weeks in Havana – see first two weeks for format of these lessons – while at the weekend we will take another trip to a nearby beach to top up your tan before returning home!

We have several volunteer projects underway in Havana and the specific project for each start date will be selected 4 weeks before commencement program start date (= 8 weeks before project start). Generally speaking we focus on upgrading infrastructures for educational, sports and other recreational facilities.

What's Included
  • Dorm-style accommodation at Casa Jakera
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Intensive Spanish lessons, dance classes, and cultural excursions
  • Volunteer placements and support
  • Two beach excursions
  • Two-night trip to Viñales Valley
  • Airport Transfer
What's Not Included
  • International and domestic flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Museum entry fees
Housing

Havana is an exciting city with many interesting neighbourhoods. However, to experience the ‘real’ Havana you need to stay in Habana Vieja. From here you are a very comfortable walk to the best bars and nightlife, and during the daytime you will be living among the real Habanos working in shops, bars, art galleries and going about their daily lives in this atmospheric part of the city.

You will be staying in ‘Casa Jakera’, a licensed Casa Particulare, sharing a dorm room with other student clients OR upon payment single room supplement you have the option to stay in another nearby Casa with your own room and en suite bathroom. Either way breakfast and lunch are served at Casa Jakera and this will be the hub of program activities, as this is also where Spanish lessons are taken as well as group discussions, planning meetings and impromptu social gatherings.

During your volunteer placement at Playa Giron you will be staying in Casa Particulars and will have the opportunity to interact and learn about Cuban life in the countryside. Your Spanish language skills will be put to the test too, with constant opportunity to practice and improve your conversational skills.

Meals

Breakfast and lunch are provided daily at Casa Jakera.

Video and Photos

Pricing and Availability

Reviews

97%
based on 3 reviews
  • Housing 8
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
Default avatar
Rachel
10/10

Cuba Will Steal Your Heart

There are some trips that you remember fondly, some you might look back on as exhausting, and then there are those that actually change your life, heart, and perspective forever. Jakera's Learn Spanish & Volunteer is absolutely this last option. With a combination of a thoughtfully built and well-run program, and the setting of the absolutely unforgettable and unique Cuba, I promise you will find these 6 weeks too short.
The program was 2 weeks in Havana taking Spanish classes in the morning and then having a cultural activity in the afternoon (either a salsa class - my FAVORITE! - or an interesting cultural tour around important sites in Havana), then 2 weeks volunteering in a beautiful small beach town called Playa Giron (where the Bay of Pigs happened), and then the final 2 weeks back in Havana taking Spanish classes again and volunteering with local programs.
Housing both in Havana and in Playa Giron was in a central location, comfortable, clean, and community-building (without wifi and with travelers from all over the world, people build a close knit community so quickly and easily). Every single night people in the house would either sit on the terrace, play cards, talk for hours, go out dancing, go for a walk around the city, go for a drink, walk the Malecon, etc. No boring moments when there are always people around wanting to explore and experience Cuba with you!
The Cuban staff is AMAZING. They make you feel welcome, comfortable, invited, at home, and like family. The Spanish teachers are professionals who are well-trained in Spanish instruction and also always open to suggestions. They are helpful and warm, and they make you laugh constantly. The house staff will even also help you plan out travels you might want to do around Cuba on your own, after the program has ended!
The volunteer opportunities were varied and purposeful; construction, wildlife preservation, cultural activities with children, aiding art programs, and more. The program is still growing, so I know they will be continuing to look for even more ways to get involved although we already stayed quite busy!

I know people always want to hear about the "cons" as well, but I didn't experience many. The "cons" as far as I could tell were all things that were simply "Cuba," not the program. For example, the heat and humidity - not Jakera's fault, but certainly made work more exhausting in the summer months. At times the water or electricity would have a moment when it would go out, but it would always come back on before long. Also one volunteer program changed things on us at the last minute. But this is just Cuban culture - they don't adhere to specific schedules very often. The Jakera staff was always ready with a Plan B if this happened, and always kept a positive mood going.

Overall, I absolutely loved this program. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to give back to the community and actually experience (not just pass through as a tourist) an entirely new culture while traveling. Cuba is a magically unique place. I have traveled a lot, and I can honestly say I've never been anywhere so special. Planning a return trip as I write this, and will go through Jakera again!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Hamish
9/10

My first cigar

After a long 2 hour trip to Viñales,we had a spot of lunch, and got ready to go horseriding through the scenic valley there.The mountains were amazing,with lush green trees all around, contrasted with orange sand everywhere.As uncomfortable as the horses were, it was an enthralling experience to canter through such an amazing place as a way to go sightseeing. After a while, i started seeing these straw huts everywhere.I later learned from the tour guide they were tobacco curing houses, places for tobacco leaves to dry, to make into cigars. I heard we were going to see a cigar farmer,and we would have an opportunity to buy some. We all reached a small hut where a farmer gave us all a sample cigar, dipped in honey, because thats what they traditionally do there. I never had a cigar before that, however, i thought it was fantastic. we saw him roll them in front of us, and we then had them in the most amazing setting, it was a real ethnic experience. I subsequently bought 20 of them for 60 cuc, however no cigar experience could ever match that same feeling of my first cigar, in Viñales.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jordan
10/10

Visit to Cuba

Thought it was a great program and got to learn a lot of Spainish and loads about Cuban culture there is so much to experience in this amazing country the cars,the beaches,the dancing,the people who are kind and friendly. Everywhere you go there is fun reggaeton music coming from the bicycle taxis and cars and the colours and design of the buildings is both eyecatching and beautiful. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to have fun,experience a new culture or learn or improve upon their Spainish

How can this program be improved?
Maybe more time in viñales
Yes, I recommend

Questions & Answers

Interviews

Meet the Staff

About Jakera Cuba

Jakera have been running student programs and delivering travel solutions to clients around the Caribbean and South America since the mid 1990’s. In 2012 we completed a long planned dream to bring our clients to Cuba having first traveled to Cuba 10...