It has been three weeks since the STAR rendered the account of the twenty-two 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.