Mari had volunteered before, but never with her adult children. Here she tells us about her experience volunteering with adult children in Cuba.
My husband and I live in the same town as our two adult sons, who attend a state university. We told them we’d give them an out-of-state experience at in-state prices, so we have purposely kept our physical distance, allowing them to determine when to return home for holidays and celebrations. The time we spend together is now limited and that much more precious.
Gone are the days when we had seemingly unlimited time together, where we shared an enormous sum of small, seemingly inconsequential moments together that shaped us and bound us together as a family. Now that our kids are away at school, and our visits are short and sporadic, we get only brief windows for more in-depth reconnection, and the in-between moments where we spend casual time together as a nuclear family, are exceptionally rare.
Vacations bring our family back together, and volunteer vacations do that particularly well. Having taken a rich and rewarding family vacation with Global Volunteers to West Virginia in 2011, choosing to go with them again, this time to Havana, Cuba, was hardly a decision at all.
Havana would be our first family vacation with both kids enrolled in college, and our older son’s girlfriend would be joining us as well. Before committing to the two-week trip, we made sure that we were in agreement that we would be vacationing as a “family” and this was not a parent-sponsored vacation where the kids would break away to do their own things once they completed their work obligations–there will be time aplenty for those kinds of vacations. I needn’t have worried. We were all on the same page and once there, the workdays and fullness of exploring the wonders of Cuba kept us all fully engaged and spent by the end of the day. There was no desire to break away (though we did all find space for alone time to rest and recharge).
Experiencing the people and country of Cuba with our young adult crew was beyond gratifying.
Seeing them interact with the seniors, with whom we worked in mornings, and their English students in the evenings, then hearing their reflections about each, added a richness to the trip. Volunteering with adult children is an experience for family growth and learning from each other.
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