Picture: Sculpture at the entrance of the Chaplin Cinema, between 23rd and 10th, Vedado.
When I was 14 I was studying in the 9th grade and the only thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want to go to a boarding school. Which is why I didn’t take the entrance exams for the Lenin school. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted at San Alejandro school: in those days they reserved only some seven places for the City of Havana and, as all the students at the Elementary in Plastic Arts knew, five of those places already had names and surnames on them. Being a teenager, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life and I heard some rumors that choosing to do the three year pre-university schooling at a non-boarding school would mean a lot of dollars that my family didn’t have, or living in extreme poverty.
I graduated from high school without taking any admittance exams and without my certificate for the pre-university in a non-boarding school. I opted to go to the “Heroes of Chapultepec” school, a boarding school for training teachers, with the hope that the three years would go by fast and that after that I would go to the University of Havana to study biology.
After just three weeks at Chapultepec, in the city of Güira de Melen, I had lost 15 pounds. They would give my a bronchial spray, Salbutamol, twice a day, and had me on intravenous Aminophylline, a bronchial dilator drug. At school, the doctor was the only one who notice, beside me, that I wasn’t adapting well.
My mother went to all the ministries with the documents from the doctor at the boarding school saying I should be transferred to a non-boarding school. Three weeks later I was out of the school with a certificate, and I stayed home waiting for an answer from the Ministry of Education about what they were going to do with me.
A month later they had refused my transfer to a non-boarding pre-university school, saying that my illness had developed after I was in the boarding school and you could only go to a non-boarding school if you already had the illness.
Finally I went to study Accounting and Finance, starting at the end of October. I still remember the first day when I was sitting in class, I had no idea what being an “accounter” meant.
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