Cuba – School life in Pinar del Rio – by Milan

milanEverybody has their own opinion about socialism in Cuba. During our trip for three weeks in Cuba we had the chance to see many different sides of the socialism. In one point we all agreed: the school system in Cuba is very good.
In Pinar del Rio we visited the IPVCE Federico- Engels School for two days and met other students from the school, which is for the best of the best students in the area of Pinar del Rio. The school system has many differences to our schools at home in Germany.

At home we have of course two days weekend and five days school lessons. Here in Cuba in Pinar del Rio the students go to school for eleven days and after that they have four days free. In this four days the students, who live in the school, go home and meet their families. One of the eleven days of school is for working and on the other ten days they have nearly the whole day lessons.
Another difference is the uniform of the students. Here in the Frederico Engels School they all wear a light blue shirt and dark blue trousers and white socks.
At home in Germany every student is tired and saying “good morning” is often very boring. On our first day at the school we visited different classes and when we entered the classrooms all students stood up and they clapped and sang their own rhythm. Every class has it´s own rhythm and they do it every time when an important person enters the classroom. The students of the Frederico Engels school are very disciplined. If the teacher says for example that they have to be quiet, they will stop talking at the moment and pay attention to the class.

In Germany many students don’t like their school food and say it’s very bad and too expensive. In Cuba the school food has its own history. Every farmer has to spend some food to the schools. Of course we were invited to eat there and the food was nearly every day the same. We got yucca, rice and meat with hairs of the pigs, a soup of beans and jam. The meal wasn’t delicious and we asked what they would eat in the evening. The answer was “the same” and we are all happy because we had a buffet in our hotel.
Another very important difference is the school building. In Germany you would destroy the building, but here it’s normal. No colors, nothing is new and if it’s raining, it’s dropping everywhere.
The toilets offered a special experience, too. No toilet paper, no water and a smell you don’t want to smell again.

Another difference is that the students live in rooms with 70 persons and have a small, uncomfortable bed. But the students are very happy to live there and they all want to study medicine.
In the school and in many other places in Cuba we were very famous. During our time in the school the Cuban Television made a movie about us and showed this video on television.
Every day we drove with our bikes to the school and the tenth grade stood there to welcome us. For the last evening they prepared a very big show for us, which we found very cool. The show was a very big action for them and we realized that our visit is something very special and very important in the school live of the students.

Finally I think it was a very interesting time in the school in Pinar del Rio and we learned a lot and had some very new experiences. To meet the Cuban students was very cool and we had a lot of fun with them.