Spanish Students Link Language & History

World languages at MICDS are more than just learning vocabulary words and sentences. The curriculum provides a passport into global cultures and communities and enables students to appreciate, work, and interact with people all over the world. Upper School World Language Teacher Sarah Elliott recently provided an opportunity for her Spanish 550 students to join a Zoom call with Pablo Gomez, the director of Instituto Albert Einstein (IAE), our sister school in Argentina. The Zoom session was designed for students to learn more about his experience and perspective regarding Argentina’s last military dictatorship.

Before connecting with Gomez, students explored literature, film, and music to learn about the dictatorship and the “Dirty War,” which occurred from 1976-1983. Students read La Guerra Sucia, a book by Nathaniel Curby, and Los Censores, a short story by Luisa Valenzuela. They also studied the song Como la Cigarra and the film Cautiva. The term “Dirty War” was coined by the military due to their different methods, which most notably included a genocide that resulted in the death of 30,000 Argentinians. Studying these works gave students the background needed to ask Gomez questions and hear his perspective as someone who was a child during that period and, since then, has witnessed the lasting impacts of its atrocities on his fellow citizens.

In the entirely Spanish-speaking Zoom visit, Gomez spoke of friends and acquaintances of his parents who were among the civilians who disappeared during this conflict. He said, “They were taken by the government and never seen again.” Students asked questions about the psychological impact of the war on children, if any good resulted from the war, and how one teaches about the war in a sensitive way. On the lighter side, students asked about his favorite parts of Argentina, what it means to him to be Argentinian, and if he’s a Messi or Ronaldo fan (he responded with “Maradona.”)

Kareena Kanumury ’23 enjoyed deepening her understanding and cultural awareness. “I learned more about Argentina’s history and how a military dictatorship from 1976-1983 impacted not only the people of Argentina but people around the world,” she said. “Mr. Gomez discussed themes regarding censorship, secrecy, concentration camps, and missing people. I was surprised to understand the extent of the dictatorship’s traumas and how those traumas are being somewhat resolved even today. After investigating the history of Argentina, one of the most prominent Latin American countries, I realized Spanish class is beyond just speaking and understanding how present-day society functions but what significant events built up to Argentina’s current-day society.”

In March 2023, students enrolled in our sister exchange with IAE will visit Argentina for a two-week homestay with a host family. They will attend classes at IAE, tour the capital city of Buenos Aires, watch a soccer game, and more. Exchange students from IAE will visit MICDS in the fall of 2023.