Member Spotlight – Bob Freeland

Teaching Students about Louisiana’s Spanish Heritage Through Volunteering and Passion with Bob Freeland

Most New Orleanians know very little about Louisiana’s Spanish heritage. Board member Robert “Bob” Freeland wants to change that, one student at a time.

After retiring in 2008, Bob joined the Friends of the Cabildo as a walking tour guide. A native of Brazil, Bob speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese. He developed a love of New Orleans from his early days traveling with his family through the Port of New Orleans and eventually attending Tulane University.

“For many years, I only did private and school group tours with the Friends,” says Bob. “Many of the teachers realized the value of having a Spanish speaking guide. I was able to tailor the tour to meet the teacher’s needs. For example, advanced placement Spanish students, I would conduct the entire tour in Spanish.”

In 2017, Bob and several members of the Friends created the Spanish Heritage Program to work with Spanish Immersion Schools and Spanish classes throughout the region. The program helps students understand the deep roots of Spain, Latin and South America in the region.

“We first started the program as a walking tour, but it has now merged into an exhibit and docent-led tour,” says Bob. “We have also created materials for the classroom including a video, lecture and website.”

More than anything, Bob hopes that young students learning to speak Spanish will see the value of the language.

“Learning Spanish isn’t something you just do when you’re overseas,” says Bob. “But something that can help make you a better citizen.”

In addition to his volunteer time, Bob regularly donates in support of the Spanish Heritage Program. Recently he made a gift during Give Nola Day.

(Above) Robert “Bob” Freeland presenting the 2023 History Maker Award to Carol Stauder at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at Antoine’s Restaurant.

“Donations make a real difference in what we are able to offer,” says Bob. “The museums are able to improve the inventory and acquire new items. Funds help us to educate even more kids.”

Bob hopes to grow support for the Spanish Heritage Program so they can serve even more students in area public schools.

“Imagine what we could do with more funding,” says Bob. “We could really support more underserved students in our area. Museums are so important for education. We can really make a difference in strengthening the connections to our Spanish heritage.”

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