- The Gift of Cuba
- Spanish Classes
- Tourists and the People They Attract
- Fidel, Che and Jose Marti
- Economics, Wealth and Poverty
- Food, Water and the Hotel
- Health and Education
- The Arts
- Looking Back
The students in the language school were mostly from European countries, with a sprinkling of Americans. They ranged in age from college students to one of my fellow Global Exchange participants who was taking up Spanish for the first time at age 75.
This was my first language immersion experience, and after being tested, I was surprised to find myself in an Intermediate class, though I knew I wasn’t a rank beginner. My classroom was a narrow room filled with a long U-shaped table facing a smaller table where my profesora sat. I felt at ease with stocky Señora Martin who talked rapidly and with profuse gestures. She laughed gently at our struggles to introduce ourselves. At the break there were a few changes in our group and I trusted that Sra. Martin knew what she was doing and that I belonged there. By Wednesday, my ear had adjusted, and I was able to stay with the rest of the class through four new verb tenses and a lot of narrative diversions about Cuban customs and quirks of the language. The last two days were a fog. I don’t mind being challenged, but a bit less would have been nice. It is humbling to be bottom of the heap, but someone has to be there.
I’ve attended other immersion courses in Mexico. When I told my Mexican teacher that my first experience was in Cuba, she lifted her eyebrows and wondered aloud how I coped. Even many Mexicans can’t understand Cubans. How was I to know?