Program Note: Due to Cuban government restrictions, this program is no longer available.
In January of this year, Maxine Lathrop, GSC Associate Director and I (Rick Lathrop, GSC Executive Director) joined our initial Cuba In-Country Coordinator Naomi Schnee with our first group of seven volunteer participants.
We were royally hosted by our casa particular families. Maxine was even surprised with a birthday party.
We spent time during our first week meeting with Cuban organizations that hosted us and offered to collaborate in the future.
We also explored Havana, learning about Cuba’s rich history and culture.
We enjoyed an evening of Cuban music and salsa dancing, attended a concert by the Solfa Children’s Choir, and visited a local elementary school.
We then traveled to Matanzas to begin our Conversational English program. Our hosts shared with us the many cultural and historic aspects of this part of Cuba.
Some highlights included a lively rumba dance and a visit to a Santeria Temple.
The Pilot Group met with the University of Matanzas staff to plan the Conversational English Training Program.
We also practiced teaching English with the University staff and students.
To wrap up our wonderful time in Cuba, GSC hosted a banquet celebration with our University of Matanzas friends.
GSC and the University of Matanzas thoroughly enjoyed working together and looked forward to continuing and expanding this program. However, GSC was informed in early March that the Ministry of Higher Education has decided not to allow any US organizations to work directly and teach at Cuban institutes of higher education. We have been required to suspend our Conversational English Program for the time being.
GSC has developed connections with other organizations and is exploring the possibility of providing conversational English, sustainable agriculture and/or public health programs as early as this fall. We will be providing updates on the Cuba Program through our email newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here and stay tuned for updates!
– GSC Executive Director, Rick Lathrop