By Sandy, 6-time Global Volunteer.
Only two more days in Cuba for me! As usual, after a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel, everyone went off to their morning project. Daniel and Bethany went to the center to prepare the ground for planting, both Johns went to the center to tutor English, and I was off to the “taller” in the Baptist Church to work on the rug I’m braiding.
After that we had sandwiches and fruit at the center while we listened to Bethany’s thought for the day and her journal entry.
Then Daniel and Bethany were kind enough to take me to the boulevard to do some shopping. While walking along the Plaza José Martí, we were stopped by a lady who pointed to us and simply said, “What country?” In the subsequent conversation we found out she has relatives in Israel and Turkey, and she has a sweets shop in her house near our hotel!
In the early evening we returned to the center for more English classes. Since I have worked with more or less advanced students, their English skills are good. We have been able to play games like Scrabble and 20 Questions. One evening a student made a detailed timeline of Cuban history which he then explained to me – including pre-Columbian tainos, the indigenous group here. Another student seems to spend 24 hours a day watching television; he was able to describe to me all the programs he has seen, from “Big Bang Theory” through “Game of Thrones” to “Supernatural”. I discovered that the Cuban people are motivated to learn English not only to get a better job, but also just to interact with Americans. One student told me that he hopes relations between Cuba and the United States will keep improving because he really wants to KNOW us and our culture.
So, what did I like about Cuba? First and foremost, our “jefa”, Stephanie! She organized everything and made our Cuban experience drama-free. Then come the other volunteers with me. We are always “cool” with each other and even though we are different ages, from different areas of the U.S and with different backgrounds. The ladies of the “taller” are next, willing to help me learn how to make a rug and take me into their fold.
I greatly appreciate my room attendant Yudy, people at the center who prepare our lunches, the clerks in the shops who went out of their way to help me find what I wanted, the “cocheros” and the men who pedal the bici taxis.
My favorite times were going to mass at the cathedral, receiving all the hugs and kisses, listening in the street to the comments directed at Bethany because she’s tall, blonde and beautiful and last but certainly not least, talking to the horses!
¡Viva Global Volunteers!