Social Welfare in Cuba December 2018

Social Welfare in Cuba: A Holistic View of Human and Environmental Sustainability

A cross island tour from Santiago de Cuba to Havana! 

Study Tour offered in collaboration with NASW 
California, New York and Michigan

December 2 – 15, 2018

Tour leader: Marjorie Ziefert, LMSW, ACSW *
Professor Emeritus, Eastern Michigan University, 
School of Social Work            
Social Welfare 2015 f
The Social Welfare in Cuba 2013 group enjoying professional meetings and informal gatherings with Cubans in Havana and in the provinces.

Since 2013 Michigan NASW members, along with their friends and partners, have been venturing to Cuba to learn about the Cubans social welfare system and the quality of life experienced by Cubans as a consequence of the commitments of the Revolution to provide high quality free healthcare and education for all. Over the past few years, both New York State and California NASW have joined Michigan in providing CEs to members of their chapters. Other chapter members may transfer CEs to their States (see description below),

In December 2018, we are planning a cross island tour that will begin in the vibrant Afro Cuban City of Santiago de Cuba in the far eastern region of Cuba, include several days in the charming rural provinces of Sancti Spiritus and Camaguey, and conclude in the island's intellectually and culturally stimulating capitol – Havana! As always, along the way we will have the opportunity to interact with both Cuban professionals and the ordinary Cubans who benefit from their government's universal systems of health care, education and social welfare.

I am excited to again be leading this group and returning to Cuba for (in my case) the eighth time! Each time I return to Cuba I am newly invigorated by the communitarian spirit and the commitments to health and education that give the Cuban people a remarkable quality of life despite living with the consequences of a US embargo for more than a half a century.                                                – Marjorie Ziefert, LMSW, ACSW

Universally past participants have given this experience glowing feedback:
      “This was definitely the most educational and informative continuing education activity I have ever experienced. The presenters and topics were very thorough and the diversity of agencies that were visited helped to give a holistic picture of how the Cuban health/social care system works. It was very beneficial to learn how a community-based approach can be effective in dealing with multiple issues and can be very preventative.”
      "The Cuba experience was informative, educational, and life changing. I have a very different view of Cuba, its people, government, and health care and cultural institutions and systems. The perspective of the Cuban people and service providers provides a clear contrast from the US perspective in many areas, specifically I learned how much can be done with so little when the primary focus is on strengths of the client and of the community…… Marjorie, Chuck, Michelle, and Cal provided an excellent experience and I would recommend this trip to any social worker that is open to exploring the world’s diversity."
     "This trip broadened my outlook and added many more dimensions to the ways I think about the creation and delivery of social welfare services. The consideration of service delivery in the context of a place as fascinating and confounding as Cuba is great practice for all of us to realize that, as per social work 101, we must start where the client is, and leave our preconceived assumptions in the bus. Our trip leaders were excellent: And our guide Cal was professional and endlessly knowledgable. This trip fulfilled the learning objectives and more; it was fantastically enjoyable, intriguing, and stimulating."
SW 15 whole group with Granma
Social Welfare in Cuba group, April – May 2017
  "This opportunity offered a wide-range of experiences and contacts with a population that would have otherwise been closed off to me.  I have already found the new knowledge, understanding, and insight bestowed by our Cuban colleagues (and those sharing who shared this experience with me) influencing my practice.  Moving forward I would suggest increased dialogue and exchange between participants and hosts.  I felt that we were given so much during our visit and would have liked to offer more in return during our stay.  Thank you for this wonderful and impactful experience!"  
    “I learned so much at every presentation. It was obvious that there was a great deal of time, energy and collaboration both in the US and with folks in Cuba. Marjorie and Chuck and Michelle were amazing. The places we visited and the people that we met were well prepared for us. Although I was tired and somewhat limited I enjoyed and learned so much. So much learning took placed as rode the bus!! We had the ability to learn so much from our guides on the bus and the interaction within the group was amazing. It was a trip I had wanted to make for a very longtime and am so happy I had the opportunity. Very happy that we did it.”
     "This was a tremendous program-it was highly stimulating professionally. Cuba’s integrated health/mental health system is an inspirational model for the world."
*    *    *    *

This program will provide a closer look at vital issues facing Cuba today with a focus on (1) sustainable social and environmental policy and practice and the integration of the two in Cuba; (2) approaches to behavioral health in Cuba from a community and individual perspective and (3) issues of gender, race and class in Cuba as they impact the practice of Social Welfare.

Participants will have the opportunity to interact with official policy makers, directors of programs, and a variety of practitioners with a range of social work and other disciplinary training. The program will include engagement with urban and rural Cuban citizens in a variety of formal and informal settings as well as a variety of cultural activities.

Through site visits, presentations and discussions, participants will be presented with Cuba's perspective on the issues and encouraged to think critically about how these perspectives relate to the US – our work as social workers, and to society in general, as well as how Cuban and US social workers can learn from each other… and of course, how we, as US citizens, can help to bridge the gaps so that we can work together for the well-being of our clients, communities, countries, world and planet.

Social Welfare in Cuba Program

Orientation Packet Social Welfare in Cuba December 2018

Social Welfare in Cuba group December 2017

Social Welfare in Cuba group December 2017

If you have any questions on the program and/or  logistics for the delegation, please emailPam MontanaroCoordinator for Eco Cuba Network or call 510-318-4910

Social Work Continuing Education Hours (CEs): This trip offers 45 CEs through the Michigan, New York, and California State Chapters of NASW. Members of these NASW chapter can receive these CEs for no additional cost. Social Workers from these and other states wanting to receive CEs for the trip, who are not members of any of these chapter can do so by paying a $250 administrative fee to one of these chapters. Social Workers from other states will need to check with their state licensing authority to be sure that the CEs approved by NASW in New York, Michigan or California will be accepted in your state. Most states do have reciprocity about CEs and for the most part this has not been an issue in the past. For further information about CEs please contact Marjorie Ziefert, LMSW, at

Spouses, partners, friends and colleagues of Social Workers who work in related fields are also welcome to participate.

For articles and videos on Social Welfare and Sustainability in Cuba, check out our Resources on Social Welfare in Cuba page.

For articles and videos on Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development in Cuba, check out our ECN Resources page.

Program/in-Cuba logistics fee ($3200) includes:

  • Double room accommodations in 4 star hotel and 2 meals per day*
  • Full program
  • Tour guide and translator for all scheduled events
  • Transportation to all scheduled events
  • Honoraria to all host speakers, organizations and communities
  • Preparatory educational material
  • Access to Eco Cuba Network coordinators before, during and after tour
  • * Single Supplement is $450

Program/in-Cuba logistics fee does not include:

  • Bottled Water and other beverages 
  • Tips to hotel and wait staff
  • End of tour gratuity to guide and driver
  • Optional evening cultural activities and non-scheduled activities
  • Personal expenses

Flight Package fee ($500) includes:

  • Flights: Miami to Havana and (return) Holguin to Miami
  • Required Cuban health insurance 
  • Cuban visa 
  • Fedex delivery 

How to Register:

Please print out and complete the Social Welfare December 2018 Registration Form and then scan/email it, along with a photocopy of your passport, to Pam Montanaro at  If you prefer, you may call in your credit card account number to Pam at 510-318-4910, but you must still complete and sign the Credit Card Authorization page on the form. A deposit of $500 is due upon registration.

This trip will be limited to 22 participants.  Application forms will be processed in the order in which they are received. Participants are encouraged to submit their forms as soon as possible to ensure participation.

Cuba travel for Eco Cuba Network tours, including the flight, visa and required Cuban health insurance, is arranged by Marazul Chartersa licensed Cuba Travel Service Provider with a half century of experience arranging Cuba travel for professional, educational, cultural, and "people to people" delegations to research every aspect of Cuban life. 

We must receive your application and a non-refundable deposit of $500 by two  months before departure, but preferably upon registration. Payments by Mastercard, Visa and Discover are welcome. Full payment is due 4 – 6 weeks before departure.

Participants should also allow at least $50 – 100 per day for personal expenses and non-covered items, the flight to Miami from your home city, and one overnight stay in Miami the night before departure for Cuba. 



Eco Cuba Network is a project of the Green Cities Fund.

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