FOCUS ON HUMAN RIGHTS MONTH + 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF CUBAN LITERACY CAMPAIGN
IN MY OWN WORDS
WITH A STROKE OF THE CHAVETA
MAESTRA 33 minutes Directed by Catherine Murphy
In 1961, over 250,000 Cubans joined their country’s National Literacy Campaign and taught more than 707,000 other Cubans to read and write. Almost half of these volunteer teachers were under 18. More than half were women. MAESTRA (Spanish for teacher) explores the experiences of nine of the women who, as young girls, helped eradicate Cuban illiteracy within one year and highlights the pivotal role of women’s and youth empowerment in building a new society.
IN MY OWN WORDS 63 minutes directed by Erica Glynn
Raw, heartfelt, sometimes painstaking but often funny, In My Own Words follows the journey of adult Aboriginal students and their teachers as they discover the transformative power of reading and writing for the first time in their lives.
WITH A STROKE OF THE CHAVETA 28 minutes directed by Pam Sporn
With a Stroke of the Chaveta takes viewers into the legendary cigar factories of Cuba to witness the survival of the collective reading of literature while tabaqueros roll cigars. We learn how through la lectura de tabaquería cigar workers have been entertained, educated, and maintained a sense of class solidarity.
Kimberly Walker, Rita Sacay and Bob Boughton
Rita Sacay joined the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) 2013 to attend graduate school at the College of Education in Curriculum Studies. She coordinated the Writing Partners Program (WPP) at the UIC Writing Center, a first-year peer tutor-writer partnership program and tutored bilingual and monolingual GED students in the UIC Center for Literacy. Rita became an ACE Peer Success Coach in 2018 upon initiation of the program. In August 2020, Rita was recruited to join the UIC Academic Center for Excellence as the Coordinator for the Peer Success Coach Program.
Prior to her experience at UIC, Rita was a public school teacher for 13 years in Highland Park, a North Shore Chicago suburban school district, working as a dual language teacher (Spanish and English) and an ESL resource teacher. Rita has always been a strong advocate for equitable education for underrepresented students with a wide range of ability. Being raised bilingually in a Japanese and Portuguese speaking household and attending English language classes after school has influenced her decision to become a bilingual teacher. Her community-orientated personality has inspired her since she was a teenager in Sāo Paulo, Brazil, when she volunteered as a youth leader. Looking to the future, Rita will continue her community involvement aligned with both students and teachers.
Kimberly Waller is an educator focused on collecting, preserving, and sharing stories that uplift and empower people across borders. Her work also looks at what the educational community in the U.S. can learn from Cuba’s literacy initiatives.
BOB BOUGHTON is an adjunct professor of adult education at the University of New England, a small regional university in New South Wales, Australia. In 2005, Bob began working with a Cuban adult literacy mission using the Cuban model known internationally as Yo, Si Puedo. The program has since expanded, reaching Austrailian first nation communities and effecting over 200,000 people. The campaign in one of these communities, Brewarrina, is the subject of the film, In My Own Words. In addition to papers on the Cuban campaigns in Timor-Leste and Australia, Bob also writes about the relationship between the Cuban international literacy missions and the Freirian tradition of popular education.