Still No Word for Venezue­lan Schol­ar­ship Stu­dents

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Elei­box

It has been three weeks since the ren­dered the ac­count of the twen­tytwo stu­dents who were sent to Venezuela on schol­ar­ships is­sued by the Venezue­lan Em­bassy. Since then their rep­re­sen­ta­tive com­mit­tee has been fea­tured on most news sta­tions, shar­ing the un­nerv­ing story. De­spite their ef­forts, the stu­dents say they con­tinue to be un­rec­og­nized by gov­ern­ment.

As it is schol­ar­ship sea­son, the stu­dents were hop­ing to be re­con­sid­ered for an­other schol­ar­ship, par­tic­u­larly in light of the con­cerns and is­sues that arose with their first un­der­tak­ing, all of which was through no fault of their own. Most schol­ar­ship dead­lines have passed or are due by March 15; the same schol­ar­ships that they say the gov­ern­ment promised to try to com­pen­sate them with. But eleven days into March they haven’t re­ceived word from any­one.

Af­ter their story came out, the rest of Saint Lu­cia showed its sup­port by sign­ing pe­ti­tions, com­ment­ing and shar­ing news posts. The stu­dents say they are pleased to know that other cit­i­zens of the coun­try are con­cerned about their sit­u­a­tion. At the same time, they re­lated to this re­porter that they feel dev­as­tated and, ac­cord­ing to a mem­ber of the rep­re­sen­ta­tive com­mit­tee, “Our hopes are slowly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.”

A Do­mini­can stu­dent who was at Es­cuela Lati­noamer­i­cana de Medic­ina (Latin Amer­i­can School of Medicine) when the twenty-two Saint Lu­cians ar­rived, later wrote a let­ter ad­dressed to the Saint Lu­cian me­dia. She was at­tempt­ing to re­turn the in­valu­able favours that our Saint Lu­cian stu­dents had granted to the Do­mini­can del­e­ga­tion last year. In the let­ter she wrote: “It was a St. Lu­cian who first found out, just three months later, that the school was un­ac­cred­ited. When no Do­mini­can had yet more than a weak grasp of the Span­ish lan­guage, it was the St. Lu­cian Span­ish speak­ers who kept us in­formed and spoke up on our be­half. As a group, we were in­cluded in meet­ings; what­ever in­for­ma­tion they found was made avail­able to us. They ad­vised us on which gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials we needed to con­tact, and what ap­proach would garner the most re­sults.

“It’s ironic now, but our gov­ern­ment was ini­tially much slower to re­spond than the St. Lu­cian gov­ern­ment. As we sat back and waited, the St. Lu­cians re­ceived seem­ingly end­less prom­ises and re­as­sur­ances. A del­e­ga­tion of St. Lu­cian of­fi­cials vis­ited the school, met with the school’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and the stu­dents, and made more prom­ises. The St. Lu­cians were happy, and while I was happy for them, I nursed a se­cret envy and wor­ried that we would be left be­hind.”

These Do­mini­can stu­dents are now on a Cuban schol­ar­ship pur­su­ing their med­i­cal dreams. Their gov­ern­ment took up its re­spon­si­bil­ity while our Saint Lu­cian stu­dents have yet to be com­pen­sated for their time wasted at an un­ac­cred­ited school.

The young stu­dent con­tin­ues in her let­ter: “With­out the in­ter­ven­tion of the gov­ern­ment of Do­minica, I would not be where I am now. For that, I will al­ways be grate­ful to my gov­ern­ment. But, per­haps just as im­por­tantly, I know that had my Lu­cian friends not had my back from the start, the same would still be true. I would, per­haps, still be toil­ing away in Venezuela, un­aware of the fu­til­ity of my hard work. As I con­tinue now to work towards re­al­iz­ing my dream, I feel the ab­sence of those friends who de­serve so much more than they’ve been al­lot­ted.”

These twenty-two stu­dents who suf­fered im­mensely in Venezuela, their par­ents and the rest of the coun­try who have de­clared their sup­port await a re­sponse from the gov­ern­ment.

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