It is November 17, International Students’ Day, and the date evokes the everlasting memory to praise the study stages, to recall who we were, to be thankful for what we are today.
And here I am, looking back on 18 years of studies. I remember my first days of school, the smell of the new notebook, the scarf almost always badly knotted, the starch of the school skirt in the beginning, the twist of the straps in the uniform, the buns and braids that arranged the hair, the rush when I came running home for the snack to go back on time.
As a student I was always punctual, as they call it today, one of those who had homework on time, one of those who prepared for the demonstrative class, for the seminar.
I never forget how I loved to arrive earlier than the teacher. I preferred to go to school when I had an ailment or discomfort that justified staying at home, I was one of those who refused to join the group when they decided to run away from class all together.
I remember with perpetual gratitude the teachers who taught me to read, to write, who taught me to add, subtract, multiply, divide; to know geometry, who opened the doors to knowledge.
I remember when I was no longer a child and began to feel old enough to go to school in the countryside, where I had my first close encounter with the coffee harvest, a latrine, a hammock and even a campfire to liven up the night in the absence of electricity.
A higher student
Then came the pre-university years in the Bungos, a time of making the best friends, of those who now reaffirm the brotherhood from different geographies, of those classmates who resisted the courses in those scholarships cultivated with study and work, and we prepared the matinees as if they were plays worthy of the best theater.
Those were the times of singing Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, dancing with the Van Van or listening with deep patriotism to Sara González to remember “To the heroes…”, to continue living in peace.
University came and we became men and women, great people, with the hope of achieving the dream we longed for, of securing the future. I still remember exposing my research on the “Motivations of the cinematographic spectator in Santiago de Cuba, how my mother, may she be glorified, accompanied me in that decisive moment.
Days later, when all the student stage was behind us, we celebrated the years of effort, when we received in a solemn and festive graduation the Diploma of Bachelor of Journalism. Later, we became aware of a strange emptiness.
From then on, there would be no more Septembers, full folders, books and notebooks to cover, forced auto-studies, International Student’s Day where we shared our joys and setbacks, where we celebrated the luck that those boys in Prague did not have, whom facism murdered or sent to concentration camps for demanding what they deserved.
That is why today, the school bells, the whispering of the students, the squeak of the chairs, the chorus of the good morning sound distant to me.
That is why today, I confess that I would like to be sitting once again at a desk to defend even more the country in which I walk; to join to the depths of its revolutionary tasks. What else does it entail to be a student in Cuba?