Documentary on Cuban Literacy, "Maestra," to be Screened at UNC Asheville April 17

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Ivonne and Adria Santana

Maestra, a documentary about the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961, will be screened at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 17 in UNC Asheville’s Highsmith University Union, room 104. This event is free and open to the public.

The campaign began two years after the Cuban Revolution, when that nation’s adult illiteracy rate was more than 25 percent. Marshaling some 100,000 of Cuba’s teenagers as volunteers, the campaign brought Cuba to a state of near universal basic literacy in just one year. The film explores the experiences of nine young women – “maestras” (teachers) – who participated. After the screening, maestra Sila Reyna will share her recollections. Reyna, now a pastor in Cuba, is in Asheville visiting her sister church, Ecclesia of Fairview.

Untitled Photo by Liborio Noval, Dec. 22 1961

During the campaign, some 100,000 young volunteers left school to teach in the countryside where illiteracy rates exceeded 40 percent. The documentary includes interviews, recorded testimonials, and archival footage exploring the goals of a nation and courage of the young women who took part in the campaign.

The screening and lecture is sponsored by UNC Asheville's Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service Learning and the Department of Foreign Languages. For more information, contact Selena Hilemon in UNC Asheville’s Key Center, at or 828.258.7721.