Operation Pedro Pan: The Voices and Stories of Cuba's Child Exodus was a two-day bilingual program offered live and streamed at the University of Central Florida on March 28-29, 2023. The program was funded by the Florida Humanities along with UCF co-sponsors the Department of English, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Department of Philosophy’s Cultural Studies Program, and the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies Program. It featured two panel discussions, an in-conversation session, musical performances, and a workshop. All these were firmly rooted in the humanities for their interpretation of how the mass exodus affected the cultural expression and representation of the children who were displaced from their homes, by examining language, music, visual art, and literature.
Tuesday, March 28
The first day featured a panel of four speakers including an art historian, a Cuba expert, an historian, and a graphic novelist. By providing a cultural and historical context for Operation Pedro Pan (OPP), the largest mass exodus of minor refugees in the Western Hemisphere at the time, 1960-62, panelists engaged in a discussion with the audience on the legacy of OPP, its after-effects, and the ways humanities informs representations of the experiences endured by survivors now in their 70s and beyond. The second panel, moderated by an humanities scholar and Cuba specialist, included three individuals who are OPP survivors, lending a personalized accounting of OPP's impact on their lives.
Participants for the first day's opening panel are: Luis Martínez Fernández, Alexis Castellanos, María de los Angeles Torres, and Ilenia Colón Mendoza. The second panel featured those who experienced OPP including: Karina Céspedes (moderator), Norma Hern, Isabel Barrabeitg, and Barbara Palacios Wessels. A Q&A period followed both panels.
Wednesday, March 29
The second day included a performance of Cuban music, followed by an in conversation/interview session with the graphic novelist, culminating in a workshop for students by the artist on the creative process. Participants for day two were: Kevin Meehan, Jorge Milanés, Alexis Castellanos, and Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés.