Volunteering in Cuba – A Day at Grandpa & Grandma’s House

Today’s blog post comes to us from API Global Leader & Hofstra University student Penelope Lopez. She’s opening up about her experience volunteering in Cuba.

The best part of studying abroad, in my opinion, is the chance we have as students to submerge in the culture. We learn new traditions, eat different cuisines, and practice a new language.

But what about bonding with your neighbors, dancing salsa with the locals, and giving back once in a while? My time in Havana, Cuba was emotional, eye-opening, fun, and most importantly educational. The best part of this experience was when our lovely program director, Emily, took us on a journey to La Casa de Los Abuelos or The House of Grandparents. Here, I had the opportunity to play dominos with the elderly, distribute desserts, and talk to them about everything and anything.

Smiling grandmother in Havana Cuba

This smiling adorable abuela will always have a special place in my heart because of the long conversation we had together.

Not only was she hilarious, kind, and wise she disclosed life lessons that I will always remember. She shared her hopes and dreams she has for her children and grandchildren. She wishes that they can be happy in their career path without struggle and without harsh work. In addition, she expressed her thoughts and advice on Cuban men and how they are very different from American men. According to her, “The men here are charming and caring but be very careful.” Although I did not fall in love in Cuba it was delightful for her to share her wisdom about relationships and how she was so kind enough to treat me like part of her own family.

Volunteering in Cuba

Overall, this journey to La Casa de Los Abuelos was impactful, lovely, and pleasing. I only spent two hours volunteering in Cuba but these young spirited women gave me a breath of life.

I recommend this experience to anyone because it makes you appreciate and value the little things in life. Not only are you touching their lives by spending some quality time with them, they are also touching yours in ways that are unexplainable. I would go a thousand times more if it means I could put a smile on their face and absorb more life lessons.

Thank you, API, for showing me and the rest of the girls on this experience that life is more than the Instagram pictures. It’s about the connections you make with people that are long-lasting.

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