Learn Spanish & Volunteer in Cuba - 2 weeks

Location
Cuba
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About This Program

A two week ‘cultural immersion’ program to help you enjoy and understand what’s happening in Cuba right now! Our volunteer placements will help you connect with Cuban people, understand their culture and history, and turbo charge your Spanish language tuition.

As with all our programs, this program includes accommodation, breakfast & lunch throughout, plus Spanish language tuition, meaningful volunteer placements and other activities. Start and end date is usually a Sunday, though clients are welcome to arrive early or extend – we are open 365 days a year!

This is a two week program (14 nights) though can be combined with other programs to make longer duration and more varied experience

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

SPANISH LESSONS

Monday to Friday’s intensive Spanish lessons take place shortly after breakfast. Your teacher is licensed and on day one you receive a short test to establish your level and objectives. Lessons 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.

DISCOVER CUBA

Hop onto a Wah-Wah (fume belching local bendy bus) or Colectivo (classic car/communal taxi) and take to the streets to discover the real Habana. Understand how Habaneros live; the practical day to day issues Cubans face living in this complicated country at this exciting time and help us take away some answers to our own ‘first world’ problems!

We take you on an adventure to help you understand and enjoy the history of Cuba and Habana. Understand the source of her amazing wealth, the rich cultural mix, marvel at the faded patina of Habana’s famous gorgeous neo classical architecture, the rumble of classic American cars, curious soviet era high rise buildings, ubiquitous live music on every street, dance, exotic religions, the list is endless. You will quickly feel at home, gain the knowledge and confidence to enjoy the city during your own time, with new found traveller
and Cuban friends. You have been immersed into the Cuban culture - enjoy!

VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT

Our volunteering begins with a group ‘orientation’ walk around Habana Vieja & Centro, during which we visit our projects; to discuss the issues and bring everyone comfortably up to speed and feeling welcome. Work begins the next day and depending where our need is greatest will include a combination of the following projects.

▪ Arco Iris & Barrio Habana Vieja Community Centre’s

We work with two children’s community centers supporting activities for local kids aged 5-15 years. The kids include those from broken and troubled families and our focus – in addition to creating a fun filled environment is to give its members better preparation for adulthood and parenthood. A variety of classes are given but focus always remains on social skills and confidence building. Activities include acting, dancing and singing classes and we often make presentations with our volunteers.

Our work as volunteers includes assisting with needed renovation and maintenance work to the facilities, assisting teachers in preparation and planning of activities, assisting teachers carry-out activities and classes with the kids, hosting and planning our own activities for the kids and donating needed resources.

SPORTS COMPEX

The sports complejo has been the main sports facility for all the schools in Habana Vieja for generations. It is a very established service but lacks basic facilities. Sports run at this location include; baseball, volleyball, athletics, wrestling, basketball and judo in the near future. We support sports in Cuba whenever possible, the benefits sports bring to society are well understood by Cubans and we follow their lead. Our work as volunteers includes renovation and maintenance of facilities, donating equipment, assisting in sports training
and hosting sports events and matches.

CUBAN MUSIC INSTITUTE

This is the only official institute for music and dance in Habana Vieja. Established pre-revolution the institute gifts theory classes to local Cubans on the all-important history and evolution of Cuban music and dance. Practical dance and music classes are also given. Folkloric Afro-Cuban music and dance is its main focus but mainly dance owing to a shortage of instruments and other equipment. Our volunteers are helping to restore the facilities and theater. This is also a wonderful place to bring donativos and spend time learning this magical and vibrant form of music and dance.

'EL GIMNASIO' BOXING GYM

Following the work accomplished at the legendary ‘Rafael Trejo Gimnasio’ – including rewiring, painting and a huge amount of donativo – we are now working with another, younger, boxing gym that needs our help.
The facilities are quite poor and in a desperate situation; equipment is almost nonexistent. The coaches are passionate and therefore have a large following of kids, with ages ranging from 5-21 years old. Our work as volunteers includes renovation and maintenance of facilities, donating equipment, assisting in sports training and hosting events.

Upon arrival Havana International Airport you are picked up for a transfer to your Casa Particulares* or hostel.
This is your home in Havana. Casa Jakera was opened at the end of 2015 and features shared air conditioned bedrooms, separate shower and toilet facilities, dining rooms and lots of comfortable indoor and outdoor space (including spacious roof terrace). Here you can hang out with new friends or chill on your own to enjoy the cool breezes and great views of the streets below. As with most of Havana you will enjoy taking in the atmosphere in this central location which is truly unique.

* Casa Particulares are government licenced ‘private homestay’ accommodation whereby Cubans are permitted to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home to paying guests. However, the licensing regime has recently been extended to include larger hostal style accommodation. Casa Jakera falls under this latter category and whether you stay at Casa Jakera or another Casa Particulare breakfast & lunch and Spanish lessons are taken at Casa Jakera.

Breakfast and lunch are included in program costs. Cuban cuisine features Native American Taino, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences, and typically includes a combination of rice and beans, vegetables, and either pork or chicken.

Video and Photos

Availability

Two Weeks
$800 USD

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 this program
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 this program
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 this program

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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...