A two week ‘cultural immersion’ program based in the heart of Old Havana 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 date is the first Sunday of EVERY month and includes 14 nights, 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.
- Based in the atmospheric heart of Old Habana - stay in the most exciting/vibrant/fun neighbourhood in Habana!
- Program includes accommodation, breakfast & lunch, Spanish lessons, cultural tours, activities & volunteer placements... 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!
- Start date first Sunday of EVERY month - most participants are solo travellers but friends, couples and groups also welcome!
- Spanish lessons for all levels - we have 8 teachers to cater for beginners, intermediate and advanced students.
What to Expect
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.
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!
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.
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.
Housing & Meals
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.
Havana has always been a hotbed for tourism; however, with the bans on U.S. citizens, this has decreased. There are still a large number of tourists that go to this colorful city every year including U.S. citizens for more volunteer projects.