The 2013 Alabama-in-Cuba group has now been in Cuba for an entire month. As is my custom at this juncture, I now provide a report of our activities, our classes, and our behavior.
I am quite pleased with all aspects of this group of 10 students. They have thrown themselves into the idea of living and studying in Cuba with enthusiasm and a great deal of intellectual curiosity. The group is taking a class— film studies– with Cuban students their own age and this has been an eye-opening experience. Seems a Cuban classroom differs somewhat from what we are accustomed to in the States. But this is a unique opportunity for the UA students. Not only do they get to hear all varieties of Spanish, they also have the chance to meet and become friends with Cubans from all walks of life. The core course with Professors Raul and Rosa is going well as usual. In this class, the students get an in depth look—from the Cuban perspective—of the often strained relations between Cuba and the USA. In their class with Professor Rita, our students are researching a wide variety of Cuban culture—from dance, to art, to music and much more. In my class, they are exposed to a wide range of cultural aspects. One week we visited the Catholic church, Santa Rita and spoke at length with the priest, José Félix, about the role of the Church within a Socialist structure. The UA students asked a myriad of penetrating questions about both the past and the present of Catholicism within the Castro regime. In another class, Pepe Vázquez, and biologist from the University of San Gerónimo, spoke on a variety of topics and answered a long list of questions. In this class, the students are also working hard on their semester projects which they will present in Spanish during the first week of May.
In regard to travel, we have been quite busy. We have already hundreds of kilometers to the West in Viñales to see the ¨mogotes,¨ caves, and green hills of that zone. We have also been to the famous orchid farm in Soroa, the Hemingway Museum, Cojimar (where Hemingway fished and drank), and to the beautiful resort area in Varadero. Within La Habana we have seen the impressive Bellas Artes Museum, the Martí Tower, the Partagás Tobacco Factory, the Orisha Museum (Santería), Obispo Street, and the annual Book Fair.
And we still have much to see!
The students´ behavior has been first rate. They are respecting the program rules, arriving on time (usually), and taking a great interest in their classwork and in Cuba.