If we are going to educate our students for the 21st century, then why is instruction on Cuba not emphasized in our Spanish classes? Even my textbook, with all of its references to Spanish-speaking countries, wants to present a watered-down, Uncle Sam-friendly version of Cuba by highlighting Miami. What are we afraid of?
Yes, Cuba is communist. Yes, the Cuban government has a history of hostility towards the US, but isn’t it our job to equip our future leaders to deal with these problems through language instruction and education on Cuban culture? Cuba has been a diplomatic thorn in the US’ side since Fidel Castro came to power in the 1950’s. And with so many Cuban natives living in the United States, it is imperative for our students to understand Cuban values and perspectives so that they may deal with the Elián’s, Castro’s and embargoes of the 21st century.
In all of my days as a student, the only mention of Cuba was the Cuban Missile Crisis in my 9th grade History class. In Spanish classes today, our students are more likely to hear about the sights and sounds of rainforests in Costa Rica than the issues surrounding the people and culture of a country that is a stone’s throw away from the Florida coast.
If our students are ever going to speak Spanish, are they more likely to interact with…
Mexicans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans?
Costa Ricans, Argentines, Peruvians, and Chileans?
This is not to say that students should not spend time investigating the latter group of countries. However, how much more time should we spend on the first set of countries?