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St. Lucia Nursing Students Visited in Cuba’s Matanzas Province

Contact: Prime Minister's Press Secretary

Friday, September 22, 2006 - Saint Lucia’s new Consul General in Havana has taken up office in the Cuban capital with a visit to the Saint Lucian nursing students as one of her first successfully accomplished assignments.

Consul General Nancy Nicholas, who has taken up residence and office in Havana since arriving in Cuba on September 11, 2006, last Saturday visited the 168 Saint Lucian students undertaking nursing studies in Matanzas Province.

Ms Nicholas, who is fluent in Spanish, met the Principal and senior staff at the school where the students reside and study. She also met with the students, some of whom were former students of hers as a teacher in Soufriere.

Accompanied by Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Earl Bousquet, the new Consul General introduced herself and the mission of her office to the students, who were meeting her for the first time.

The visiting officials, who were in Havana as part of the official delegation of Saint Lucia to the 14th Summit Meeting of the Movement of Non Aligned Countries, brought to the students greetings from Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony.

The Prime Minister, who was in Cuba to attend the summit of the 118-member originally intended to visit the students, but changes in his speaking schedule at the summit, held at the Palace of Conventions, prevented him from taking the almost two-hour drive to Matanzas.

She invited them to remain in contact with her office, as she was in Havana to serve the interests of all Saint Lucians in Cuba, wherever they may be.

She told the students she was proud to learn from the Principal and senior staff that they were proving to be a very cooperative bunch of students who were learning well.

Most surprising to the visiting Saint Lucia delegation, however, was the fact that, after only six weeks, the students were already communicating thoroughly in Spanish.

Ms Nicholas addressed them in Spanish, as did their teachers and a representative of the Cuban Council of State with responsibility for the Caribbean students.

The students were updated on issues and developments back home and the visiting delegation took the opportunity to inquire as to their welfare and general conditions they faced.

During the discussions, the delegation learned that the students had put on a choreographed national theatrical display for the rest of the school on August 30, 2006 to celebrate La Rose Day, Saint Lucia’s national flower festival named after Saint Rose De Lima.

The performances included contemporary dances, poems and traditional dance performed by the students, who hail from across Saint Lucia.

The students said they appreciate what their mission in Cuba is and sounded quite upbeat and optimistic. They were also elated when they learned that another 100 students are being recruited back home for the same programme and who will be joining them in Cuba in a few weeks.

Among the Saint Lucians students in Matanzas, there are 12 males and some students called for addressing the gender imbalance by sending more male student nurses.

Some students expressed interest in quicker communication with family back home. Some inquired about annual vacation visits and others wanted information about pending official stipends.

The students also wanted to stamp their national presence at their school.

In this regard, they requested from the delegation a large Saint Lucia flag and a recorded copy of Saint Lucia’s National Anthem (on CD or DVD) to be used on national holidays and on ceremonial occasions.

The new Consul General explained her responsibilities as their diplomatic representative in Cuba and assured the students that she had noted their questions and requests.

Ms Nicholas promised to act on their requests as best as her Havana office could, in communication with the Cuban authorities and the Ministries of External Affairs and Education in Castries.

After over an hour of exchange with the students, the Consul General and the Press Secretary sat at dinner with the students at their collective dining room.

Some students took the opportunity to send letters back home through the Consul General, thus activating the communication line between them and her office.

The Press Secretary promised to work on supplying them and other Saint Lucian students and citizens in Cuba with regular supplies of information from back home.

Ms Nicholas replaced former Consul General Peter “Pell” Lansiquot, who has since returned home.

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