I went on an amazing trip last summer to Cuba, and have been really surprised at how few students are aware of the opportunity, so thought I would spread the word!
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign are a UK group who (amongst many other things!) help co-ordinate British people who want to learn more about Cuba on one of the Brigades. You stay in a centre about 45 minutes from Havana, where you do some voluntary work and then enjoy a range of trips and activities organised by the Cuban staff who look after you. They have meetings with people from all over island on social development, politics, history and how Cuba is developing in the modern world. It's really fascinating stuff - especially if you are studying Latin America or International Law/ Politics. You also get the chance to visit schools, factories and historical sites, plus beach trips. We had a three-night stay in Pinar Del Rio, including a boat road through an underground river system!
In my opinion, there's no better way to start a gap year - the best thing is that there are people from all over Europe on the same Brigade, so you get the chance to meet up with other travellers and make plans. Loads of people that I got to know were there as part of a gap year tour, and went on to other Latin American countries afterwards.
If anyone wants to ask me anything, I'm happy to help! I'm just doing my bit to raise the profile of an *awesome* experience.
...or just paranoid?