Program in Cuba


Group photo at the University of Havana.

From July 9-17, 2016, participants were fully immersed in Cuba and meeting with Cuban educators and community organizers. Below we’ve listed the individuals and organizations whom we met.


Overview of the Cuban Educational System and Current Trends in Cuban Education
Dr. Lesbia Canovas, former president of the Pedagogical Association of Cuba (APC)

Comparative Education in Cuba and the U.S.
Rodrigo González, former student in Cuba and the U.S., and director of Girasol

The Teaching of Reading and Writing in Cuba
Dr. Nidia Lescaille, professor

Practicing Education in Cuba
Mayrel Suarez, junior high school principal

The Literacy Campaign
Luisa Campos, professor and director of the Literacy Campaign Museum

Yo, Sí Puedo
Dr. Miriam López, professor


Barrio Habana 

A non-profit community project focused on children, youth, and elderly; led by Pavel Garcia Valdes and Sandra Sotolongo Iglesias ( In their own words: “Proyecto de Gestión  Comunitaria…para la atención a la niñez, juventud y ancianidad. Trabajamos construyendo sonrisas.” Follow/like Barrio Habana on Facebook and see the directors’ business card for reference.

Callejón de Hamel

Created by painter and sculptor Salvadaor Gonzáles Escalona in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, this cultural community art project explores santería history, practices, and beliefs. For reference, see this summary from Havana Cultura.

Recommended books on santería: Santería Enthroned: Art, Ritual, and Innovation in an Afro-Cuban Religion by David H. Brown; Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy by Robert Farris Thompson; Santería from Africa to the New World: The Dead Sell Memories by George Brandon; and Los Orishas in Cuba by Natalia Bolívar.

Community Project Espiral

This non-profit grassroots community project in Havana, Cuba, engages in a wide range of initiatives, including activities for children, youth, and elderly, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. Their approach is influenced by the pedagogy of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. In their own words: “Espiral es un proyecto comunitario cubano, sin fines de lucro, con sede en Ciudad de La Habana, cuyos integrantes trabajamos de manera voluntaria, creativa, divertida, y participativa; para propiciar el desarrollo de un modo de vida sustentable en nosotros y en la comunidad, que contribuya al mejoramiento de la calidad de vida.” Follow/like Proyecto Espiral on Facebook.

El Niño y la Niña

This non-profit community project in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, focuses on providing a safe, healthy, and empowering space for children from the community. For reference, see this summary from UNICEF.

José Fuster

Created by artist José Rodriguez Fuster, what was once a simple mosaic project developed during Cuba’s “Special Period” of the 1990s has since evolved into “Fusterlandia,” a community-wide initiative involving the majority of the surrounding homes and families. For reference, see this summary from Havana Cultura.

Las Terrazas

This sustainable community was founded in 1971 in the Pinar del Rio province within the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve. Today it serves as an internationally renowned example of sustainable ecotourism recognized by UNESCO. In its own words, “Las Terrazas es considerada el primer Eco-Museo de Cuba, referencia nacional e internacional para otras zonas de desarrollo con características similares. También ostenta el Premio de Conservación otorgado por la UNESCO.” For reference, see the official website for the Las Terrazas community.


Led by acclaimed director Juan Carlos, this non-profit grassroots community organization explores and revives traditional Afro-Cuban dance, music, and culture through the performing arts. Friend the Compañía de Espectáculo Folklórico Okantomi on Facebook.