Dominican student writes in support of St. Lucian ex-medical students (letter)

Letter to the Editor

Letter-007When the 22 St Lucians arrived at the Latin American School of Medicine, we had already been there for over a week.

Being one of 6 Dominicans out of a total of 8 West Indians on campus, I remember being excited to welcome so many familiar persons, young women and men from my own corner of the world. ‘We’re your Sister Island,’ they introduced themselves.

We weren’t the first group of Dominicans to the school. We had heard the stories from our seniors, seen the pictures. I was as prepared as could be expected. Not so the St Lucians. They weren’t expecting the conditions of the dorms; they didn’t know that the water was not safe for drinking, or that milk, sugar and toilet paper would be difficult to come by. Still, they adjusted. There was work to be done. We all shared a dream, and we were all well on our way to achieving it.

It was a St Lucians 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.

When a solution came for the Dominicans, we all celebrated together. The government of Dominica had responded with full force; nothing was left to chance. There was a farewell party, and lots of tears- but not too many: We all knew that confirmation was just around the corner for the St Lucians as well. In a few months, we would all be together again in Cuba, our shared dream back on track to full realisation.

I’m now halfway through my first year of medical school in Cuba. 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 realising my dream, I feel the absence of those friends who deserve so much more than they’ve been allotted.

(42)(2)
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10 comments

  1. While the situation is sad, that's politics for ya.... The scholarships were given by slp. I don't thing uwp is going to help these students out esp when slp was fully aware that the whole "scholarship" was a hoax. The govt is not expected to pay for students to study. I'm sure these students were given those scholarships because they knew someone involved with slp.. likewise, if scholarship opportunities exist, uwp supporters will be the ones to get them... it's sad and dirty but that's good he reality of politics... I wish them luck tho, this whole situation is a damn mess..

    (1)(0)
  2. Wow....it's such a shame to see how our government fail to invest in the education of its people.....I sympathize with the 22

    (6)(1)
  3. Angry Supporter

    This is a chance for our current government to step up and prove that they are interested in investing in the future of our country! This is not going to be about SLP vs UWP but the previous government was in charge of sending our future doctors to this school and did ABSOLUTELY NO RESEARCH before sending them over. If they had done the proper research, these 22 intelligent, young minds would not have had to experience the traumatizing shit storm that is happening in Venezuela. Not having access to basic needs in a foreign country going through a lot of economic turmoil is not what should have happened. The government, whichever party, was selected by the people and put in place to protect the people. How can we have faith in any of these parties/the government when things like this happen?

    I applaud the Dominican government for not only pulling their students out of that mess, but also putting their future medical officials back on the right path. These 22 people had their dreams stripped away and their hope is diminishing as our government takes a while to address this issue. Apart from experiencing this travesty, the students were told to keep this on the hush hush. The NERVE! If this doesn't make you angry it should. Imagine sending your child to become a doctor, only to find out that it was all a sham? And that they were in danger? And that there have yet to be any reparations of any kind?

    We NEED doctors. We NEED more health professionals. This is why when a lot of our people go abroad to study, they do not wish to return! They have gone elsewhere to seek better opportunities for themselves since they don't have hope in the country. This is how the government shows that it "cares" about our generation. They are taking away our country's potential to be greater. There is a petition going around for these 22 students, we need to get signatures and we need to show the government that we are in solidarity with our people and that this mistreatment cannot be allowed to continue.

    (8)(2)
    • Foreign American student

      As a foreign student coming from the states, St. Lucia seemed a dream opportunity to study medicine. This beautiful country, its people full of smiles made my day, every day. And I had even began to consider the thought of moving here and practice what I struggled so hard to learn.

      Now recently after learning about the governments decision not to stand by the institutions that deem to improve this country one Student at a time. I am not sure of the chance of me practicing here in St. Lucia in the future. I will not have any problem else where in the world...but I do wish that I was so naive to think that it would be different in the future. I really do wish.

      Please think about your neighbors, and think about fellow lucians. Reality is the future is slipping away, but I really hope someone reads this whom can make a difference

      Ps. I would just like to say, that I came here with nothing but a small suitcase full of clothes..but am leaving with so many wonderful memories that will define my life. To all the people of this country, you have shared with me the meaning of life, and I will forever be grateful

      (1)(0)
  4. politicians, boi

    That's very sad. I hope these young men and women get what they've been promised by these politicians

    (3)(1)
  5. 11 years sailing.

    I wish all St.Lucian's could show the same level of love to their fellow men everywhere they meet around the world,especially those who work on cruise ships....Stop making life a competition everywhere we go.

    (3)(1)
  6. The St.Lucians helped them get the information and their government made something happen! Bravo Dominica! Incidentally Dominica has a higher literacy rate than st.Lucia. they care about their people's education and take responsibility

    (13)(1)
    • As much as I wish all st lucians should be given a scholarship to further their education in Cuba it is not feasible all 22 will be lucky. Let's be real here for a minute. A fraction of the 22 could be given the chance to pursue their dreams further this year in Cuba. Why? How will the government be able to allocate funds for 22 new medical doctors in the year 2024?
      I say give written exams and the highest scorers be given a chance to further pursue their dreams in Cuba. Also dear government, stop selling dreams to your people then you're unable to accommodate them when the time comes. Have we forgotten about the Cuban nurses debacle? No? Yes?

      (4)(0)
      • As a student, let me say that that was something we proposed to the delegates. We told them that we would be amenable to a process where they use their discretion based on a reasonable criteria to select a few students at every intake, for the next 2 years perhaps.

        The students also suggested a compromise where some would take the much longer route into medicine by accepting other related degrees perhaps in medical engineering fields or other medical specializations. They didnt budge.

        Having already completed the pre-med course and the first semester of 1st year, we asked them if an entrance exam could be negotiated so that we could prove our competency and either they didnt give it consideration or they never tried.

        Many may not know this, but the school we attended was a sister school to the one in Venezuela. Kind of like how UWI has its campuses across the Caribbean. Both schools are called the Latin American School of Medicine. And it is no exaggeration that the St.Lucian delegation out performed every single other delegation, Caribbean and international, for pre-med and medicine.

        Many people ask us, "Why did you stay?" Well actually a large majority had prepared to leave in December of 2015, just 6 months after we'd been there. I actually even came home! The ambassador at the time begged me to return because the director of the school called and said he was so devastated that a student who had the equivalent of a 4.0 G.P.A was leaving. They promised me it would have been taken care of.

        That's just my story. My colleagues were similarly competent. We are more than able to pursue medicine.

        (6)(1)
      • The government did send them all to Venezuela and seemed to be ok with the fact that 22 were returning in the same year. So that's hardly the issue.
        But I agree...they should stop making empty promises. I think that's what's most disappointing.

        (0)(1)

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