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Perspective: Little things with a big impact

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Leer en español.

Every time I wonder about the futility of my actions, I remember an anecdote from my art professor in Barcelona, Dr. Basilio Losada.

Dr. Losada was an exceptional storyteller who he knew how to captivate his audience. In between lectures, he told this family story.

His grandfather felt sorry for a classmate who returned broke after the humiliating defeat of the Spanish forces in Cuba in 1898. He lent him some money to help out. Shortly thereafter, this classmate left in the middle of the night, defaulting on the loan. After some time, gossip confirmed that he had used the money to purchase his boat passage back to Cuba. Dr. Losada’s grandfather accepted he would never be paid back. With the passage of time, this escapee did very well, starting his own business and having a family. He ended up a successful businessman in Cuba and quite wealthy.

In fact, one of his sons changed world history because Dr. Losada’s grandfather loaned money to the father of Fidel Castro. Ironically, that one loan had a huge impact because the Cuban Revolution was the inspiration of numerous revolutionary movements throughout Latin America and Africa, and for many decades Fidel Castro galvanized international news.

So, if you are ever in doubt whether your actions have an impact, remember how one loan in a little town in Spain changed world history.

I’m Frances Jaeger, and that is my Perspective.

Leer en español.

Frances Jaeger is an associate professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include Latin American contemporary poetry as well as Caribbean and Central American literature.