Saturday, August 16, 2008

un dia de orgullo

Today the UAC-CP held its inaugural graduation ceremony for all students who recently defended their thesis projects or completed their nursing internships. In total, the names of 54 students in Agronomy, Veterinary Science, and Nursing were called to receive their graduation certificates.

It was a momentous ocassion for the graduates and their families--many of whom traveled more than 10 hours to attend the event. All of the commencement speakers talked about the importance of the UAC and its work to educate young, indigenous people from the poor and rural areas of Bolivia. Bishop Juan Vargas reminded us that the UAC represents hope for the people of Bolivia --to not only educate and generate jobs, but to eradicate the poverty and injustice that has plagued the campesinos for years.

While it was unarguably a celebratory day for the stuents, it was also an emotional day for their parents and families who have made lots of sacrifices for their children to attend college. I had the chance to speak with several moms and dads and I noticed that they all kept using the same word: orgullo. Like any parent would be, they are extremely proud of their sons and daughters for what they have accomplished. Most likely all of today's graduates were the first in their family to receive a college degree. In fact, every mother and father I spoke with said they themselves had not even graduated from high school; undoubtedly, they never dreamed their son or daughter would graduate from college.

As we stood around after the official pomp and circumstance and took photos of the beaming graduates, I congratulated one of Bolivia's newest nurses. "Felicidades! You did it--now you're done!" I told her. "Aye, no, Sarita!" she responded. "Now I have to get my master's degree!"

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