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A Spanish language school has become a shelter for the war in Syria

Fátima Subeh Marzo / Cairo /  Seven years after its opening in the heat of the Syrian war, the Hispanic Center of Damascus can be proud of having survived many difficulties throughout this conflict, as well as of being a shelter for students as it allows them to escape from the horrors of war.

At the school, there are several Latin American and Spanish teachers, who teach about 100 Syrian students between 18 and 45 years old.

The students have only stopped going to the academy when the war was felt in the city center, an area that has not been affected by violence as much as the suburbs of Damascus or other regions of the country.

“When we saw that the situation was serious, we suspended the classes (…) I always keep in touch with my students via WhatsApp”, explains the teacher.

The Peruvian recalls that, once, a mortar shell landed in the area where the academy was located. For this kind of reasons the academy has been moving its location in the past years. Luckily, no one ever got hurt.

Rojas points out that there have been “numerous attacks” in the capital during the past years, but the Hispanic Center always tried to have its headquarters “in areas where there were not too much risk”.

The school has also faced logistical problems due to the “economic sanctions” imposed on the government of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

“We have difficulties to get the textbooks that we use in the classes and to buy them online,” she explains.


Language, culture and coexistence

Despite all this, the teacher feels proud and ensures that her center contributes to the dissemination of Spanish, as well as the “culture and gastronomy” of Spanish-speaking countries.

Furthermore, the academy is a space of coexistence, where students of different religions share their traditions.

“We celebrated Christmas, where Muslim students and Christians sang Christmas carols, and we also celebrated Ramadan and Aid (feast of the lamb), and that’s very beautiful,” Rojas said in reference to the most prominent festivities in Islam.


Centro Hipánico de Damasco seventh anniversary

Next April 12, students and teachers will celebrate the seventh anniversary of the academy. For this reason, students have prepared a folk dance, a theatre performance and, of course, a party, as Syrians “love Latin dances like salsa or bachata “.

The school has never been able to celebrate its anniversary the same day of its opening because the date is the samen than the date of the beginning of the popular revolt in Syria, on March 15, and that makes it more risky to carry out any activity.

“In the month of March, Damascus tends to experience attacks, which is why we usually cellebrate our anniversary in the month of April,” explains the teacher.

However, this 2019, when it is eight years since the beginning of the revolution that degraded into a bloody war, in Damascus “there have been no attacks and everything is much quieter” than in previous anniversaries, when violence was at the doorstep From the capital.


The conflict has not discouraged Rojas or made her give up her mission to teach Spanish in Syria and she has never wanted to leave the country: she says that she feels at home there and that people are “very kind, honest and sincere”.

In addition, she relativizes the risk of living in a country at war. “If it’s your turn, it’s your turn, here or wherever,” she adds.


Practica Español

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Question 1
This piece of news deals with... (Esta noticia trata sobre...)
El español en Siria
Una escuela de español en Damasco
Los españoles que viven en Siria
Question 2
How long has Centro Hipánico de Damasco had been open? (¿Cúanto tiempo lleva abierto el Centro Hipánico de Damasco?
Seis años
Siete años
Ocho años
Question 3
Have lessons ever been cancelled in the academy? (¿Se han cancelado las clases alguna vez en la academia?
No, nunca
Sí, cuando la situación era grave
Sí, durante las vacaciones
Question 4
What do the students of different religions share with eachother?
Question 5
What does the academy find difficult due to the economical situation of the country? (¿Qué es difícil para la academia debido a la situación económica del país?)
Comprar diccionarios
Comprar libros
Comprar ordenadores
Question 6
What do many Syrian refugees in Turkey regret?
No aprender a cocinar
No aprender la cultura turca
No aprender turco
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