Fate or coincidence, or perhaps determination? Fate and determination, because life indeed took turns, but Leandro Mastrapa Igarza ended up in the profession he once dreamed through other paths that ended up, in one way or another, leading him to teach.
Las Tunas, Cuba.- "But the best thing in this game of life has been the honorable commitment in the daily work as an educator, only in that way, he judges, one can honor a supreme noble profession. "Interest, desire and taste for training and being a good teacher; all that has always been there, has always been here," he says now when he has accumulated nearly 15 years as a teacher and can tell the essences of a work to which he is born every day, as his philosophy dictates.
One senses just by watching and listening to him that the daily work as a basic guide at the Wenceslao Rivero Junior High School suits him like a tailor-made suit and that, far from robbing him of energy, it adds fuel to someone who has words on the order of the day, either for unexpected journalists or to explain and harangue his boys in every activity. This is how I saw him the first time when, in the middle of the students' hullabaloo, he explained details of the election process and he did it with enthusiasm and dissection of the event worthy of admiration and so necessary to form the concept of citizenship since childhood!
"It's already 10 years as a basic guide of the José Martí Pioneers Organization (OPJM, by its acronym in Spanish), a work to which it is necessary to devote time and interest. I dedicate that work to the pioneers; all the events, camping, party, parade, or emulation check are designed for them; and for me, they deserve to enjoy it.
"They trust me to carry out all the processes and, of course, it has to be done with a lot of love. Although I am behind the actions, and I am the adult who guides them, it is also important that they get involved in these activities, that they organize them, that they dream them...the students are the main protagonists, the main doers."
Leandro knows the complexity of this stage of growth and considers that the teacher, without losing his essence and the implicit and explicit responsibility in his performance, has, at some point, "to become a child and an adolescent to understand them, to get closer to them. To have the tact to work with the family and cooperate with them to maintain that important unity and to accompany our children."
The classrooms of the "Wenceslao Rivero" have been in his soul since he saw others doing what he is doing today as a teenager; for this reason and for the longing he had sown, he did not hesitate to join the ranks of the general comprehensive teachers, who in the first decade of 2000 launched themselves into the conquest of this work of living gospels.
"We were trained to meet the need for teachers and to take on the beautiful task of instructing and educating. We were very young, many are no longer here and others are, but those of us who remain to this day do it out of a vocation to be faithful to that initial commitment and, of course, out of a desire to work and improve ourselves."
This is what he says when, faced with the emergency, he embarked on the adventure of telling history, with very little technique and a lot to learn, but with the certainty that the roots of today lie in the past, which must be told with intelligence and passion.
"The success of any profession lies in doing it with love and vocation. If there is one element that cannot be lacking in those who dedicate themselves to teaching, it is a vocation, and it must be more than proven. Why? Well, who do we teachers work with? We work with people. Therefore, it is not just any profession.
"I think that the first thing that must exist is a proven, heartfelt, and dedicated vocation; interest, desire to be a good teacher, to want to leave a positive mark on their students, on the family and the community.
The teacher must always have before him the challenge of surpassing himself, he cannot be satisfied only with the knowledge of the teaching in which he teaches, he must be much more ambitious. The Cuban teacher has to improve himself, and the history teacher much more."