March 15, 2013
Vincentian students studying in Venzuela saddened by Chavez’s death

Vincentian nationals studying in Venezuela have joined the millions around the world, in expressing their sadness at the passing of President Hugo Chavez.{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT contacted a number of Vincentians studying in the South American country, following Chavez’s death on March 5.

The students indicated that they were saddened by the death of Chavez, 58.

“I feel sadness in the passing of the president, who was loved by many, if not all,” said Krista George, a medical student, who has spent three years in Venezuela.

“It was he who had given many of us the opportunity to study medicine, and so we are very appreciative of this,” said George, who has four more years of studies left.

“The passing of Hugo Chavez has affected me greatly, because I never got the chance to tell him thanks for everything he did for me, my country, and the world as a whole…,” added another student, who has been in the country studying for three years.

The students told SEARCHLIGHT that the atmosphere in Venezuela was one of shock, disbelief, and “a bit tense”, when it was announced that Chavez had died.

“It could be seen on the faces of the people that it was like a blow to a lot of the fellow students… there was disbelief when the news was released. A lot of people claimed it wasn’t true,” civil engineering student Eddison Edwards told SEARCHLIGHT.

“I was at CDI (Centro de Diagnostico Integral) when the news came over the television. Most people stopped and stared in astonishment; others shed tears, while some watched in silence,” George said.

Edwards, who has been in the country for five years, with one year of studies left, said that he does not think the passing of the man referred to as ‘El Comandante’ would affect him, because he believes Chavez’s successor would continue the vision and missions that had been started with his presidency in 1999.

“Although he has died, the people still believe in his ideas and that he will live on as a legend through the people of Venezuela…”

Some students say, however, that their future in the country may hinge on whoever is voted as the next leader in elections, slated for April 14.

Despite the daily challenges and uncertainties of the upcoming weeks, the students say that they are hoping that they would be able to finish their studies, and that they are all grateful to be afforded the opportunity to further their education, which they credited in major part to Chavez.

The students also assured SEARCHLIGHT that they still feel safe in their homes away from home, but admitted that they would have to be a bit more vigilant, given the circumstances.

“Wherever you go in the world can be dangerous, if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time; you just have to be careful of the friends and company you keep, the places you go, and at what time,” a tourism student said.

“To future students… do not be afraid to go to a country with different language and culture… you can achieve anything you set your mind to with God by your side,” said George.

“We have been welcomed into the Venezuelan population and culture, with love and respect…. There are over 4,000 students from all over the world because of his efforts…” said another student.

Edwards added: “I would like to thank the Venezuelan people and Government for the opportunities and relations that have been built with our country.”

There are 40 to 50 Vincentian students currently studying in Venezuela.(JJ)