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Cuba: Cultural Odyssey™

Cuba: Cultural Odyssey™

In complex Cuba, music pours out of open windows, natural beauty abounds and social issues are solved through art.


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  • Volunteer and support art projects, which benefit urban families
  • Experience live music, museums and colorful street art in Old Havana
  • Zipline over the Viñales biosphere reserve
  • Relax on Cayo Levisa, a beach on the Cuban keys
  • Learn about Cuba’s complex history and culture
  • Learn about food sustainability on an eco-farm experience

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Cuba offers a glimpse into another era, as if everything here was put on pause several decades ago. Sixty years of isolation has resulted in a preserved culture where the streets feel like they’ve just begun to come alive again—with music, art, delicious food, and an aging yet still vibrant colonial cityscape. In Havana, volunteer within a community of artists and learn about the country’s complex history. Walk through intimate cobblestoned plazas, get to know historians and artists and feel the survivalist spirit of a population that has endured two independence wars. In true “odyssey” style, encounter diverse characters and lifestyles as you traverse modern-day Cuba, from rural Viñales to idyllic Playa Larga.

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Community Service

Enduring economic hardship and a general lack of resources, the youth of Havana’s barrios began dropping out of school when urban decay took hold in the “Special Period,” a euphemism for the extended period of economic crisis in the 1990s. In the midst of the community’s struggle, a public art center called Muraleando was formed. Today, Muraleando is a hub for creativity as well as a gathering center that provides resources for local children and adults. Volunteer side-by-side with community members on diverse projects here. In the countryside of Viñales, volunteer at the social enterprise Finca Paraiso, which is part organic farm and part family-run restaurant.

Hands-On Learning

Your journey will peel back layers of Cuba’s culture and history to reveal a diverse heritage, evolving international relations, ongoing social projects, efforts to enhance sustainability and a modern healthcare system. Go on a “conservation tour” of Havana, where you’ll visit the Office of the Historian, a government branch that consciously works to preserve culturally significant art and architecture, and sponsors social projects for Cuban citizens. Travel to the nautical city of Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has overcome a contentious colonial history, and Playa Giron, one of two landing sites where forces from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion first made landfall. 

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In addition to history-infused Havana, visit Cuba’s breathtaking beaches and forest-covered mountains. As you travel across the island to Cienfuegos, Viñales and Playa Larga, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a combination of outdoor activities: swim in a natural turquoise cenote, zipline over limestone mogotes, explore an underground cave, and hike to breathtaking views of Las Terrazas valley. Enjoy the postcard-like beauty of the Cuban Keys with a day trip to Cayo Levisa, where you’ll get to snorkel and play volleyball on a white-sand beach.


On this Cultural Odyssey, students will spend time in a variety of destinations across Cuba. Each Home Base will be at a unique, locally-owned hotel. Students will share rooms with roommates, typically with ensuite bathrooms, and enjoy communal meals as a group. Accommodations are basic, but clean and safe.

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Dates & Tuition

Cuba: Cultural Odyssey™ 12-Day Program
Duration: 12 days
Tuition: $4,399
Student/Staff Ratio: 6 to 1
Community Service Hours: 10
Language Hours: N/A
More Information

Interested in Family-Friendly trips? Check out Discover Corps, our volunteer vacations for adults and families, in collaboration with the National Peace Corps Association.

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