Considering a working vacation in Cuba? Read here as Cuba Global Volunteer Thomasina reflects on her two-week experience in Ciego de Ávila serving and learning from the Cuban people.
A Working Vacation in Cuba
I’ve supported the concept of Global Volunteers for many years, but I didn’t embark on my first trip until just last year, in 2017. There was always a reason to put off a “working vacation”: I didn’t have the funds, too much going on at work, etc… But one day it dawned on me: the stars have aligned and I have no more excuses – let’s do this! Now the question was “which country?” Naturally, I never pick anything easily. For example, when I had to pick a language to learn in college, I knew I could breeze through Spanish since I took it in high school… But no, let’s learn Japanese! When deciding to live abroad, I could have picked a land more suitable to my culture… But again, no, let’s move to Saudi Arabia! So which country posed the most challenge, I thought. CUBA! After all, Americans are discouraged to travel there. I heard horror stories about this country when I lived in Miami. And I’m a devout Capitalist. I’d like to see how communist really live. I had one impression going into this project and a vastly different one coming out.
“What united us was a love to help others.”
The best part about a volunteer vacation, compared to a normal vacation, is it really gives you a better perspective as to how people live, think, and believe. I learned a lot about Cuban history, a history that goes way beyond Castro’s Revolution, and its rich culture. I met people who love life regardless of their circumstances. I saw great creativity and engineering expressed through their art and everyday appliances. But I not only learned more about the Cuban people, Global Volunteers provided an opportunity to learn more about people from America (and one spicy British lady) who ventured to Cuba to volunteer. Our team was young, old, left, right, believers and non-believers. Our two weeks together allowed us to learn more about opposing viewpoints and grow as people. What united us was a love to help others.
I could go on and on about how wonderful my working vacation in Cuba was, but I’ll let my pictures do the talking. I had an awesome team and team leader. The Cuban people couldn’t have been more hospitable. And I know in the end, we made a difference in the true relationship between Americans and Cubans.