Los Estudiantes del Nicolas Avellaneda

Claudia Ahumada and Maria Valdovinos

We had the pleasure to meet with students from Nicolás Avellaneda High School: Calu Callegari, Franco Scalisi, Fatu Rodriguez, and Leopoldo Bebchuk. Nicolas Avellaneda’s history dates back to Argentina’s dictatorial period when fifteen alumni disappeared. They were arrested and later taken to clandestine detention centers. The abducted alumni of Nicolas Avellaneda were politically active as they fought for justice against the dictatorship. Today, things have changed and these four students are an example of that transition. These young adults and other students are presently active in after school workshops. In these workshops, students have the opportunity to direct their interest in technology and media towards making educational documentaries that reflects on parts of Argentina’s history. The head organizer of these workshops is Leticia Guindi, a history professor at Nicolas Avellaneda.

The students described the way in which they became interested and involved with the workshops on Memory. Leopoldo explained, “We came in, Leticia told us about ‘memory’ and I didn’t understand what it meant, but saw posters at the school and became very interested.” They later realized the workshop was not only about filming, but also learning about the importance of memory. One of the many required tasks was interviewing people who lived through the atrocious years of the dictatorship. For instance, they interviewed mothers whose sons or daughters disappeared due to their political views. Calu thought, “Oh, I get to interview people. Yeah!” but then she quickly learned that asking personal questions like, “How did you feel when you found out your son/daughter was disappeared?” was not as easy or fun as she had imagined. 


Calu and Franco
Photo by Norito Hagino

These students came across many obstacles while interviewing, filming, and editing. They shared one of the many anecdotes from this project. On their first interview they were over-prepared; they had a few tapes and two batteries which could last for a few hours, however, the interview only lasted thirty minutes. Also, making sure the camera was properly placed at the right angle was unexpectedly tedious. Regardless, these students overcame all obstacles and have now produced two remarkable documentaries. One of them is about the disappeared people and the other on the shift in politics from a dictatorship to a democratic government.

On top of creating a documentary, these students organized and helped with the making of three “Baldosas” (green tiles) in honor of the disappeared students who attended Nicolas Avellaneda. The baldosas included the students’ name and the date they disappeared. They were placed in front of the school for all pedestrians to see. Throughout the challenging interviews and research they discovered more and more families who had lost a son or daughter, but remained silent during the dictatorship due to fear of having another relative kidnapped or tortured. Today, their names remain right in front of Nicolas Avellaneda and serve as an inspiration for the youth to fight for their rights.

Text in Spanish 

Tuvimos el placer de encontrarnos con estudiantes del colegio Nicolás Avellaneda: Calu, Franco Scalisi, Fatu Rodriguez y Leopoldo Bebchuk. La historia del Nicolás Avellaneda comienza con el periodo de la dictadura en Argentina cuando muchos egresados desaparecieron. Fueron detenidos y llevados a centros de detención clandestinos. Los egresados secuestrados estaban muy involucrados en la política. Hoy en día, las cosas han cambiado, y estos cuatro estudiantes son un ejemplo de esa transición gubernamental. Ellos junto con otros estudiantes actualmente participan en talleres, donde tienen la oportunidad de usar su interés en la tecnología para crear documentales educacionales que cuenten la historia de Argentina. La organizadora de estos talleres es la profesora de historia del Nicolás Avellaneda, Leticia Guindi. 


Soka University students together with students of Nicolás Avellaneda High School
Photo by Norito Hagino

Los estudiantes describieron la manera en la que se interesaron e involucraron en estos talleres sobre Memoria. Leopoldo explico que “cuando ingresamos, Leticia nos habló sobre Memoria y nosotros no entendimos que significaba, pero vimos posters en el colegio y nos interesamos mucho.” Luego se dieron cuenta que los talleres no eran solo sobre films, sino también sobre la importancia de la Memoria. Uno de los requerimientos era entrevistar a personas que vivieron los atroces actos de la dictadura. Por ejemplo, entrevistaron a madres cuyos hijos e hijas desaparecieron debido a sus creencias políticas. Calu comentó, “…oh, tengo que entrevistar a estas personas. Si!” pero después rápidamente se dio cuenta que preguntarle a unas persona algo tan personal como “que sintió cuando supo que su hijo/a había desaparecido” no era fácil o entretenido como ella se había imaginado.

Estos estudiantes enfrentaron muchos retos en este proceso. Compartieron una de muchas anécdotas de este maravilloso proyecto. En la primera entrevista ellos estaban demasiado preparados; pero la entrevista solo duro media hora. También, asegurarse que la cámara estuviera ubicada en el ángulo correcto fue muy tedioso. A pesar de todo, ellos superaron estos los obstáculos y ahora son los productores de dos documentares extraordinarios. Uno de ellos es sobre las personas desaparecidas y el otro sobre el cambio político desde la dictadura al actual gobierno.

Además de crear el documental, los estudiantes organizaron y ayudaron en la creación de tres ‘baldosas’ en honor a los estudiantes desaparecidos del Avellaneda. Las baldosas incluyen los nombres de los estudiantes y la fecha que desaparecieron. A través de las entrevistas y la investigación, se dieron cuenta de más y más familias que habían perdido a sus hijos/as, pero que no habían hablado durante la dictadura por miedo a represalias. Hoy, esos nombres están frente del colegio Nicolás Avellaneda y sirven como una inspiración para los jóvenes que luchan por sus derechos.

In this short clip Calu Callegari shares her personal experience making the short documentary film, telling us that how hard it was for her to ask such difficult questions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s