Continuing our “People-to-People” offerings in Cuba on our new service programs is important to Global Volunteers staff and hosts. Every program features many of the highlighted people-to-people activities of our former Cuba NOW! program. One-week volunteers experience these in evening free-time, and two-week volunteers participate in a three-day itinerary in Havana in addition to 11 days in Ciego de Avila. Following is a report from Cuba Team Leader Pam Cromer from the first service program in May:
Our team was invited to the Department for Cuban Institute of Friendship with People (ICAP). Yolanca Delegada shared with us the work the organization does and together, we raised a peace flag that was hand made by a local artist. Another team member was asked to join with a local member of the organization to plant a tree. We had a lecture and question-and-answer period followed by a lovely display of food.
Cultural highlights in Ciego de Avila were a tour of a jewelry shop that makes their own items out of recycled silverware from all over the country, the central library, and the Ciego de Avila Museum – all providing a wonderful orientation to the region. Additionally, La Trova is a wonderful venue for music and dance. The team met local people to chat and to learn Cuban dance.
On the weekend, we went to the Moron Theater – which is always enjoyed by teams. We were graciously greeted and were given a history of the theater, watched two videos about the work the community does and the building of the theater. Next, we were invited to join the mimes and clowns entertaining on stage. There was more music and dance at the Nicolas Gideon Foundation. Once again the team was charmed by our gracious host, who shared the dreams and plans of the organization. Their hope is to invite new artists and musicians and writers to study there and have an opportunity to share their work. We were treated to a jazz concert – and invited to join in song and dance.
In Havana, we joined our guided educational tours to the Hemingway House, the Malacon and Old Havana. Later, we visited the Museum of the Revolution, Arte Corte, and Muraleando – an area of murals on the walls intended to educate the neighborhood about how to live in a clean and healthy environment. All are cited by Havana visitors as “the” highlights of the city. Before we departed on Saturday, we participated in presentations on the history of Cuban and American relations and the Cuban education system. As engaging as these session and tours were, we all agreed that our heart remains in Ciego de Avila – and that we’ll never forget our new friends there.