“An Epic Story” photo exhibit opens at the Embassy in the U.S.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Argentine Embassy in the United States will inaugurate the photo exhibition "An Epic History", which brings together 42 digitized portraits of the 65 teachers that President Domingo F. Sarmiento invited from the United States to Argentina to collaborate in the construction of the educational system of our country.

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The event will bring together authorities, diplomats, journalists, university representatives, scientists and educators from the Argentine School in Washington DC, among others. The writer and journalist Laura Ramos, author of “Las Señoritas”, the story of American teachers in Argentina, collaborated with the texts and videos, with the support of the Ministry of Culture. Two descendants of teacher Clara Allyn, who traveled to Argentina in 1878 as an assistant to her sister Frances at the school in Paraná, Entre Ríos, will also attend the exhibition.

“Our goal was to restore and enhance, through digitalization, this heritage of historical photographs that shows a very unique period of our country, making it  available to the entire community that wants to know it,” said Ambassador JorgeArgüello. And he added: “It is also a way of making visible an interesting chapter of the bilateral relations between Argentina and the United States, since Domingo F. Sarmiento was Ambassador to this country, an experience that marked him and influenced his later policies as President”.

When Domingo F. Sarmiento was already serving as Argentina’s Minister of Education, he met the great educator Horace Mann (recognized as “the father of American education”). His admiration for popular education in the United States led him to make the firm decision to bring some teachers to the country to start up the new normal schools.

Between 1869 and 1898, 61 female and four male teachers from the United States were hired by the local government to travel to Argentina to establish teacher training schools in the most remote and inhospitable regions of the country. In many cases they even had to help build the schools themselves, or defend them by converting them into forts when they were besieged by the bloody wars ravaging the country.

Although the four men and many of the women returned to the United States when their contracts expired, some 22 teachers settled in Argentina. For nearly 30 years, these teachers established and organized 18 teacher training schools, as well as elementary schools and kindergartens. It was an extraordinary task that forever changed the Argentine education system.

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