Presentation by Leticia Guindi, Teacher at the Nicolás Avellaneda High School

By Maria Valdovinos and Claudia Ahumada 

As a group, we had the opportunity to interview Leticia Guindi through video conferencing. Leticia Guindi is a history professor currently teaching at a high school located in Palermo,  Buenos Aires, called Nicolas Avellaneda. Guindi particularly identifies herself with history because, as a college student, she lived Argentina’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. She explained: “Me di cuenta que había nombres que estaban muy guardados en el fondo de mi memoria, que eran las situaciones que habían ocurrido en mi infancia antes del inicio de la dictadura y cuando esos nombre vuelven a surgir, me doy cuenta de lo que había sido la censura y el hecho de tomar conciencia de que me habían robado mi memoria histórica.” The transition towards democracy brought with it the first widely available public evidence of state sponsored terrorism. While state sponsored terrorism been never been fully concealed in the past, many of those who suspected its existence had lacked any legitimate proof.

Soon after her graduation, Guindi was given the opportunity to work at Nicolás Avellaneda high school, which was significantly affected by the dictatorship. The Avellaneda school suffered the disappearances of some of its students who protested against the dictatorship. To Guindi, this job was a gift since the school’s values coincide with those of her own, in regards to the importance of memory and history. Only two years ago Guindi and a friend decided to organize a workshop in which students would learn about human rights, memory, and history. This “Memory workshop” emerged after noticing that the school did not have an actual list documenting the names of the disappeared students. The workshop takes place after school, is voluntarily without a prerequisite and is free of charge. Some of the topics learned in this workshop are: History overview of Argentina and its connection with other countries. What is state terrorism? Why high school and university students were targeted? What was the dictatorship’s goal? 

Photo by Norito Hagino
Guindi explains that usually the workshops begin with about 20 students. Some of them join because they are interested in making videos and films and later decide to stay. The workshops require full commitment and a high level of responsibility in completing the assigned tasks. Despite the difficulty of conducting a project that involves such sensitive topics like disappearance, torture and death, the students were able, most of the time, to control their emotions and were determined to complete the documentary. The students felt accomplished after their outstanding work was completed. Their parents are pleased to hear about their children’s involvement in such honorable cause and are happy to see the outcome of their child’s hard work. As a whole, the main goal of the workshop is to “Hacer memoria” (make memory). Towards the end of our dialogue with Leticia Guindi, she emphasized one more time the importance of always looking back at the past: “Nuestra curiosidad se dirige al pasado pero nunca perdiendo de vista el presente.”

Photo by Norito Hagino

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