Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students (BPATS)

5 Questions with Raul Rubio

Raúl Rubio is Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Chair of Foreign Languages at The New School. Trained as a Hispanist and cultural studies scholar, Rubio is widely known for his research on Cuban visual and material cultures.  He also teaches courses in the BPATS program. We recently got to interview him for our 5 Questions series, and we’re very excited to share his answers.

1) What brought you to The New School? 
I had always dreamed of taking classes at The New School; and was equally curious about possibly teaching here.  Since moving to NYC, I had always enjoyed walking by 5th Avenue and 12th Street while taking-in all the dynamic energy that pours out of our buildings and onto the sidewalk. When a friend told me that the Languages Department had a search underway for a new Chair, I decided to apply in a heartbeat.  I had a hunch it would be a match made in heaven.  And it has been; I love every bit of The New School.

2) What are some of your favorite classes you’ve taught/experiences you’ve had in the classroom?
Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been teaching for over twenty years. Happy to say that I still feel like I learn everyday from my time with students. As you may know, there is a lot of exciting stuff happening in our department.  We’ve been able to implement some cutting-edge approaches to learning languages online, by piloting courses in a real-time format via Zoom.   Students and teachers love it; and we are proud to be able to innovate beyond the traditional formats of learning and teaching languages. I’ve been teaching a really exciting creative writing course in Spanish titled “Storytelling in Spanish” over the last couple of semesters.  We have a lot of creative talent here and students appreciate honing their language skills by telling stories and sharing them in a class context.  Of course, my Foundations of Gender Studies course is one of my favorites.  We have been broaching a wide-range of topics, including gender diversity and the use of student’s gender pronouns in the classroom, considering how important and complex of a consideration it is for language acquisition classes.

3) What brought you to study language? How has teaching Spanish influenced your understanding of the language/culture?
I wanted to teach since I was seven.  I used to pretend my bedroom closet doors were chalkboards.  I’d have my two Cuban grandmothers sit on my twin bed and I’d offer short and fun English lessons.

4) What projects (outside of teaching) are you currently working on?
I’m working on two secret projects but I’ll tell you a little bit about them, briefly.  One relates to the seriousness of stand-up comedy, not only as a performance genre, but as means to talk about human difference.  The second one is in relation to Cuban art, particularly US based heritage projects that serve as  means to foster community catharsis.

5) What’s one of your favorite NYC moments, places or memories?
My first day of work at The New School, and every day after I walk out of a class and realize that my students and I shared a snippet of time together that will never repeat itself.  Just in memory.  What was learned and what might perhaps be forgotten.

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