My First Steps at the University of Havana

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, 20 ene — I still remember the day that they accepted me into the art history program. They gathered us together at a school on Prado Boulevard here in Havana and, after standing there waiting in a row for a good while, they announced the decisions.

You could tell when a student had been accepted because their face was lit up when they left the room.

However, there were plenty of sad faces as well, because few of the students from the provinces were admitted. As it turned out, I was one of the seven privileged students who made it through that cumbersome process.

To get here had been a long road for me. At my Sierra Maestra High School — off the highway that goes by the town of Güines, but still in what was then Havana Province (currently named Mayabeque Province) — the 12th grade was divided into three groups: the humanities, natural sciences and exact sciences.

I chose humanities, so in my last semester I only had to study Spanish and History for the entrance examinations, but I had already secured a good position on the ladder.

Later, in 2007, I began my studies within the College of Humanities. Mine wasn’t a story that produced great deeds or unforgettable intellectual feats; rather, it was simply a complex, beneficial and productive step along my career path.

My encounter with the arts was a discovery of a world entirely different from where I had come. I’m the daughter of workers, high school graduates.  Likewise, the rest of my immediate family didn’t go to college.

My closest contact with the arts had been through various films shown on Cuban television and through reading selected works, though without any specific reference.

The beginning wasn’t what I expected, since we only went to a few conferences covering what the program was going to consist of once school started in the second semester. Nonetheless, I was extremely impressed with viewing prehistoric remains and learning about the aesthetic concepts of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

For me, the start of the college meant the beginning of a new life, one of constant visits to art exhibitions, countless film festivals, the feeding of my voracious appetite for good literature – in short, a whole new set of experiences that fostered my development and changed my way of understanding the world.


Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.