My classroom friends

Recently, the regular day course of the Social Communication career at the University of Las Tunas Vladimir I. Lenin celebrated 15 years since it was founded. How swiftly time passed! I had the fortune and the satisfaction of being part of his first teaching group, a fact for which I reserve a space of preference in my existential reliquary.

There were many good moments that I lived in that academic environment, full of young people. I don’t forget my first day of school. Talent and joy took their place on the desks! I had prepared my lecture and rehearsed the usual little speech with which some (bad) teachers try to impress and mark territory in the classroom.

“Good afternoon,” I greeted, very serious and affected. My name is So-and-so, I am a journalist and I am going to teach the subject Fundamentals of Journalism. I hope we get along well and face no problems. I notice that I am very demanding and I do not tolerate indiscipline or lateness. Neither conversations in class. You come to the classroom to learn, and not to waste time. So…”. And blah blah …

I sensed that no one was paying attention to me, so good sense urged me to cut the chatter. It was the moment chosen by a student to release me, without prior notice, that unusual depth charge. He told me, without half measures: «Professor, you have just told us that you are a journalist, what do you think of current Cuban journalism? I find it on fire. There is no newspaper that can be read! ‘

The unexpected reception disturbed me. And just the day of my debut! But it was only an instant. I recovered and told myself that with my reply I was risking respect and credit. He could not show insecurity and less lightness. I processed what I had to say. So I took the floor, and, without explaining, I agreed, criticized, defended, celebrated, compared, well …

They let me speak without interruption, and as soon as I finished, the motivation seemed to set my audience on fire. The meeting took another course and a spectacular debate was unleashed, with points of view for and against what was expressed by my “inquisitor.” When I reacted, we had used up the 90 minutes of teaching and up to five of the break.

That day my conference should have been postponed, but it was worth it. The debate turned out to be a compendium of lessons learned and lessons. I verified that facing intelligent young people, with legitimate concerns, does not admit improvisations, and that only with preparation can one get out of the trance gracefully. The classroom does not get to win, but to convince.

From now on, the classroom became the stage to talk about the most diverse issues. There was no news of actuality that we did not comment or significant event that we did not abound. Nor did we miss an opportunity to link journalism with literature, art, sports or politics.

With my students I came to establish a relationship of trust and respect that still lasts. We became friends, which is a higher affective category. I feel proud when I find them turned professionals, as public relations officers or at the head of Communication departments in important companies and institutions.

“Professor, I want to reorient myself towards journalism,” a former student told me recently. “The culprit is you, for telling us so much about that profession.” We both smile. She, for receiving my approval. And I, for having made him love what the writer Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize in Literature, called “the best trade in the world.”

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My classroom friends