Launching GSC’s New Cuba Program


Photo courtesy of Balint Foldesi

Maxine Lathrop, GSC Associate Director, Janice Yaden, GSC Consultant and I – Rick Lathrop, GSC Executive Director – recently returned from a two-week trip to Cuba.

Rick and new Cuban friend

Rick with a new Cuban friend

The purpose of our trip was to meet government officials, community organizations and friends in preparation for the launch of GSC’s Cuba service-learning program. One of the most delightful parts of this experience was staying in the home of Mirta Rodriguez and her daughter and son-in-law, Lenia and Tony Hernandez.

Mirta and Tony

GSC homestay host, Mirta, and her son-in-law, Tony

Mirta's home

Mirta’s casa particular (homestay)

GSC has established a working relationship with Mirta, Lenia and Tony, and we look forward to GSC program volunteer participants getting to know them and their friends. The homestay experience will be a central component of our service-learning program in Cuba, as it has been in all GSC programs.

Casa particular bedroom

Homestay bedroom

Casa particular restroom

Homestay bathroom

Casa Particular accommodations include private bedrooms with air conditioning, Western-style bathrooms and delicious breakfasts including coffee, juice, eggs and cheese, fruits and more.

Typical breakfast at a casa particular

Typical breakfast at a homestay

During our time in Cuba, we worked to develop a partnership with The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), which assists in the development of educational and community programs in solidarity with the Cuban people, institutions and government.

Rick and ICAP staff

Rick meeting with local NGO staff

GSC is partnering with ICAP and the University of Matanzas to provide an initial service-learning program focused on conversational English skill building. Besides meeting ICAP staff at their Havana office, they also took us on a day trip to their office in Matanzas and hosted a lovely Cuban lunch.

Janice and two Cuban friends

GSC Consultant Janice at the ICAP office

Rick and Maxine with ICAP staff

Rick and Maxine with University of Matanzas and ICAP staff

ICAP staff with flan

Topping off a delicious lunch with a sweet treat – homemade flan!

ICAP also hosted us on a visit to a local community organic gardening project as part of our research for a sustainable agriculture service-learning program planned for a launch in the fall of 2016.

GSC staff at a local organic garden

GSC staff with staff members of a local organic garden

During our trip, we experienced the gracious hospitality and warmth of the Cuban people, while also taking in the sights and sounds unique to Havana.

Locals at fruit stand

New friends at a fruit stand

Musicians in the park

Musicians in the park

Join us for a special time of learning about Cuba and its people, while sharing in service as good neighbors. For more information about the GSC Buenos Vecinos Service-Learning Program, see our Cuba page or contact us at

– Rick Lathrop, GSC Executive Director


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