Students return from Cuba

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Students return from Cuba

Weber students and faculty pose in front of El Nicho waterfall in Cuba. (Courtesy of The Weber School)

Weber students and faculty pose in front of El Nicho waterfall in Cuba. (Courtesy of The Weber School)

Weber students and faculty pose in front of El Nicho waterfall in Cuba. (Courtesy of The Weber School)

Weber students and faculty pose in front of El Nicho waterfall in Cuba. (Courtesy of The Weber School)

Jolie Abadi and Eden Vainer

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On January 10, the students and faculty who participated in Weber’s annual Spanish immersion program returned from Cuba. Buzz had been circling around the school since the start of the second semester about how the trip went. The process leading up to the trip was long, and in order to qualify, the students had to apply for a secure spot and maintain a good academic standing in their Spanish classes. The program also included classes on Cuban culture, one of which was learning salsa dancing.

The students left for Cuba during winter break on January 3. They had to give up their cell phones for a week in order to fully immerse themselves into Cuban culture.

When they arrived, the students and faculty checked into their hotel, went to a restaurant for dinner and drank traditional Cuban coffee at a coffee shop in the evening. They sorted out the donations that they brought for a synagogue when they returned to the hotel.

Senior Jack Kaye and juniors Alex Roth and Noa Pollinger enjoy coffee at a Cuban coffee shop. (Courtesy of Señora Rocamora)

 

Sophomore Ryan Diamond sorting out donations for the less fortunate. (Courtesy of Señora Rocamora)

Throughout the trip, the students visited many tourist sights, such as the Havana Malecón, a seaside boardwalk full of color, as well as local Jewish communities while also practicing their Spanish skills. Josh Nelkin, a sophomore, said that his highlight of the trip was “going to an after-school program in Havana. [They] met a bunch of 10 year-olds that were trying to learn English. They sang some songs in Spanish to [them]. After that, [they] started to talk to the kids.” During the trip, the students were motivated to practice their Spanish, both for the benefit of improving their skills and to immerse themselves into the culture, an example of which was the students bargaining for lower prices.

Aside from visiting famous sites, students were also able to experience life as a Cuban. When asked what her favorite memory of the Cuba trip was, junior Alex Roth stated “It was the night before my 17th birthday and Señora surprised us by riding in the old fashioned taxis that are all different colors. Me, Mallory Tessler, Noa Pollinger and Talia Neufeld rode in a neon pink one next to the Malecón and jammed to Bruno Mars. It was so fun.” Señor Colombini said that one thing that surprised him about the culture in Cuba is “that they eat rice and beans every single day in every single meal.” Although Señora Rocamora has been to Cuba before and grew up with Cuban culture in her family, she was surprised to learn “about housing in Cuba and how what was once a mansion owned by a single family is now free housing, but for over 100 people.”

The students and teachers who came back from the immersion trip had raving reviews. Señor Colombini pointed out that his favorite memory was “the time that the kids were playing baseball with the Cuban kids outside the cemetery. It was an instantaneous moment, [they] didn’t plan it. They accepted [the students] as players.” Roth stated that “No matter how independent the people were, their hearts were wide open for everyone.” The trip provided the students with a chance to experience another life and they were warmly welcomed.

The Weber community welcomes the students back from Cuba and is glad to hear about their unique experiences. Next year, the Spanish Immersion program will be in Spain, where it took place in 2018.

 

List of students on the Cuba trip:

  • May Abravanel (senior)

  • Natalie Abramova (senior)

  • Jack Kaye (senior)

  • Sydney Rein (senior)

  • Abbie Barkan (junior)

  • Alex Roth (junior)

  • Mallory Tessler (junior)

  • Noa Grace Pollinger (junior)

  • Sydney Fialkow (junior)

  • Alexa Mittleman (sophomore)

  • Josh Nelkin (sophomore)

  • Ryan Diamond (sophomore)

  • Talia Neufeld (sophomore)

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