September 23, 2005

‘I have no regrets about Cuba’

by Ezra Ledger

Director, SVG Bureau of Standards

My first impression of Cuba was a gloomy one. Beginning at home, there abounded a lot of negative rumours regarding the state of affairs and social conditions in Cuba. We had to sleep in the airport.

My Cuban experience was indeed a rocky one, from start to finish. But finally, I triumphed, overcoming the many obstacles and challenges, graduating as the first Chemical Engineer ever trained in Cuba from SVG.

Cuba itself was a world of difference. Even though it was termed a Caribbean country it was difficult to associate it with such; the language, the culture, the social and political systems and the way of life were all different. I had awakened to a whole new world. {{more}}

For the first few months there was general frustration among the new students, as we all had to adjust and adjust speedily to our new home. Many cried, others broke down, some even returned home. Everything was HARD…. food was scarce, the buses almost non-existent, the communication system proved impossible to connect, the lines/queues were long, the frequent electrical block-outs and to compound the frustration, our ability to communicate in Spanish was very limited. And to couple with this initial nightmare, the US dollar was an illegal currency!

The period 1991 to 1993 was termed the “periodo especial” due mainly to the collapsed of the Soviet Bloc which had contributed handsomely to Cuba. Everything was blamed on the Soviet Bloc collapse. Everywhere, as one tried to obtain the necessities of life, the general response was “no hay compadre”, “estamos en periodo especial ya tu sabes”.

Looking back, I have absolutely no regrets studying in Cuba. What my academic and social experiences have provided for me cannot be gained in any other university! I was trained for life.