On Wednesday June 8, we visited El Museo de la Campaña de Alfabetización (the literacy campaign museum). At the museum we learned about the literacy campaign that began on January 1, 1961 and ended on December 22, 1961 and that eradicated illiteracy and made Cuba, as the museum claims, “the first country in the Americas to be free of illiteracy.”
For the campaign, tens of thousands of students volunteered to leave their home for a year to go into the more rural areas of Cuba and teach many of the inhabitants there how to read and write. These students were given training before along with some educational materials. Many teachers and workers also volunteered for the campaign; however, many of these volunteers were often sent into the more dangerous urban areas that needed teachers.
From the museum, one idea especially sticks out in my mind. Our tour guide kept talking about the thousands of students who volunteered and walking around the museum their faces were everywhere. However, also in the museum were the faces and letters from those people who were being taught during the literacy campaign. Walking around it was impossible not to see the real connections being formed
between people from all different backgrounds through a campaign that encompassed the entire country. Besides eradicating illiteracy in the country, it is said that the campaign helped to lessen racism in the
country as well as to lessen rural versus urban sentiments.
Learning about the effects of the campaign while making my own connections with new people in Cuba, I felt that power of meeting new people and trying to walk with them in their life for a little while. I do not know what I will do after studying abroad, but I know that whatever I do in my life, the one thing that will always stick out in my mind will be the people that I have met in my travels. Like the students of the literacy campaign, I want to affect some sort of change either in my country or in this world and I would preferably like to work for education reform. I do not know how I will go about this, but whatever I do I will never forget that the people that I work with will always be more important than any work I ever do.
Fordham University 12'