Cuba Internship April-May 2019
Students of Hispanic Studies
Carla Biondi Cuba is a country that I have longed to visit for as long as I can remember. Within the first day, it had exceeded all my expectations. I suddenly understood what I’d always been told: “Cuba has to be seen, it can’t be described”. On every street, I learned something new about the island’s culture. Music sounded from every corner and dancers crowded every square. Even waiting at the bus stop, I found myself having conversations with Cubans who were eager to exchange stories. My experience working within the magazine company La Jiribilla also taught me so much. I had the opportunity to access the magazine’s archive, which not only enabled me to broaden my knowledge, but also to strengthen my final year assignments with primary sources. I also had the chance to attend press conferences, which meant I could meet Cuban bands and artists, showing me that there is so much more to “Latin” music than what I already knew. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
João. V. Martins Pereira When I received an email in February 2019 saying that my application to go and spend 3 weeks teaching English at the Universidad de la Habana, I couldn’t believe my luck. Having studied about Cuba in various modules at The University of Kent, I was keen to visit the country and gaining some foreign language teaching experience seemed like a fantastic opportunity, as I would like to go into a teaching career.
During my first week in Cuba, I had the opportunity to explore Havana before commencing my placement at the university. I visited the Museo de la Revolución, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba, Museo del Ron Havana Club and Castillo de la Real Fuerza. I was indulged in some of the local cuisine. In fact I found a new love for one of Cuba’s most traditional dishes; Ropa Vieja. I also enjoyed the opportunity to ride in one of the old 1950s style cars. Due to our connections, we were even able to get some free second row tickets to go and watch Bailando en Cuba 2 which was most amusing and an enjoyable evening. The host family we were living with were ever so friendly and gave us an insight into Cuban culture and what it is like to live in Cuba.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience teaching at the University of Havana. The students and teachers were ever so eager to learn from us and seemed very interested in learning about the UK. As an as aspiring teacher, the experience proved to me that it is still possible to learn and teach incredible lessons even if the only resources to hand are passion, dedication, a chalkboard and a slightly outdated textbook. During the placement, we gave presentations on the UK Education System and British stereotypes and even an amusing quiz on the English language and British culture. At the end of the placement, we gave the students some England football team branded wristbands and keyrings kindly donated by Kent Union. We were highly impressed by the students’ level of English and it was heart-warming to know that we had contributed in a positive way to their learning and seeing how grateful they were for our work. Overall it was an amazing experience which I would not hesitate to do again if I had the chance.
Stephen Hockley The experience was fantastic and so rich. To have been the recipient of an internship that took me across the world and into the suburbs of Havana is always going to be a cool thing. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity. I got the chance to see the famous Cuban education system first-hand which proved a rewarding (and challenging!) experience. I got to interact with a lot of people from many walks of life, as I was fortunate enough to visit the workplace of the girls and to go to a free concert that they held. It was a nice experience, though I think longer placements especially for teaching would be a good idea too!