Kabir Vegas Castellanos
HAVANA TIMES — Largely by personal experiences and also having a grip on how the small world of Cuba works, seeing teenagers in uniforms gives me a mixture of shock and sadness.
I’ve seen my own friends from junior high, and even elementary school, still subject to the struggle for a twelfth grade diploma they will later throw in a drawer. They don’t question whether they are actually learning anything. Not even those studying in a polytechnic school think they are going to work in the field they are learning.
The goal is to tolerate the time remaining in the school: “This is to not have any problems; after graduating my father will put me to work with him.” Even college graduates end up as part of a business unrelated to their careers.
I know many graduates of a technological institute and pre-university, and what are they doing? They go around collecting bets on the “la bolita” [illegal] lottery.
Then there are those who do complete their degrees (and ultimately their lives are not so different from when they were students), there are three options before them:
– Moving up the ladder without scruples, latching on to anyone and destroying others as is necessary
– Making use of certain advantages of their profession and with the help of others with the same scruples, thrive through corruption.
– Or work a lifetime without reaching anything they’ve dreamed of, accumulating resentment and bitterness, knowing that a miserable old age awaits them.
Many criticize me for getting into what doesn’t correspond to someone of my age. When I was in high school the only thing that interested me was to opt for the pre-university and then study computer engineering, or computer technology.
My first choice was computer technology studies and I went to the interview that assessed whether or not they accept you. More than an interview they give you a questionnaire to fill out. One of the questions was whether after graduation you would be willing to be placed in any of these job categories: “Programmer, Designer, Network Administrator and Professor.”
I replied that I was willing to work in all except the professor. Conclusion: I was the only one that showed up from my school that failed the interview. The funny thing is that some people thought the same as me but simply lied, thinking that when the time came they could manage to avoid having to teach.
In my favor was having good grades and I did got into a pre-university, but all this accumulation of events has left me a kind of phobia of uniforms.
In the end they denied me the right to study for not submitting to the rule of military haircuts for males. Likewise the students are constantly blackmailed with things like: if you do not attend the march on May 1st you’ll lose the right to request a career; if you do not participate in as many political activities as occurs to them, and put up as long as seems totally absurd, you’ll be categorized as conflictive and they’ll put a stain on your record.
At that time I only reacted instinctively to what I considered unfair but now, seeing it from a distance, I see so clear that we were never prepared to be good citizens, people with an individual conscience and true knowledge to be applied in a role of our choice in society.
We are just chess pieces, and they place us according to where they need us. It doesn’t matter if we are fit to be queens, its the player who decides if our end is to stay as pawns.