On Friday, I was supposed to give an online conference presentation with students in Venezuela. One of Vos Group’s members works and lives over there, we collaborate, exchange ideas and projects; and he has proved to be a valuable professional and wonderful new friend. A week before the conference, we were forced to reschedule because the event would take place on a Saturday, and many places are now closing on the weekends for safety purposes. On the day before the conference, the power went off throughout the day, while we were supposed to test our communications. We had set up an awesome presentation that would go along with my speaking, to mimic the actual “me being there.”
Days before, I had thought about it, and pre-recorded myself giving the conference, first because I wanted to make sure my contents were on point, since it was the first time I was lecturing on this material in Spanish. Yes, it’s my native language, but I have to adjust terms and concepts. After I did so, I got a message from my collaborator in Venezuela asking if we could have me do a video presentation just in case internet went down. It made total sense.
Check out the video to see what happened as things progressed:
or click on the link to go directly to YouTube
In the end, we did not get the Q&A session, I lost all contact from 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm, as it happens every now and then. And I do worry. Every time you lose connection, you don’t know if they got caught in the middle of a protest, or they just got services cut off yet again.
What do I learn from this? What is it that I want to share the most? Why do I wish we were all as hungry as Venezuelans are? Well… I want to emphasize how amazing it is that people in Venezuela who have lost the freedom and peace of being, still go on. They get up every day, and do their best to get food, to make a living, and work in one way or another. Even when they know that they will not be able to buy all the food they want because of the rationing. Even when they know they will not get paid as much as they should, because the economy is collapsed. And above all that, they do everything and anything to keep learning. We tried every single strategy to share my knowledge, and we made it happen. In spite of all the things we could not do. In spite of not being able to use the same technology that we were telling them would give them power. They did not stop. They did not walk away. We were not talking about anything controversial. I made sure I emphasized only on practical themes, nothing that would
So yes, I wish we ALL were as hungry as Venezuelans. I wish we were as hungry for knowledge, for life, for making each day count even though the whole system and the whole world may be against us. I wish we will value the freedom and access to education, to internet, to basic services such as running water and electricity. The freedom to work and get paid and spend that money in whatever we want. The freedom to travel abroad and come back to our property and families, and enjoy our country.
Am I frustrated? Yes, I would have loved for those students to get the BEST learning experience possible, because they deserve it. But I’m also inspired, because our message got across and I know it landed in the right soil. And I have to say I’m also hopeful, because if Venezuelans can find some strength in it, I hope the little efforts will amount to the country they really deserve to have.
Share this article if with someone who needs to learn more about Venezuela’s situation, or value the access to technology and freedom that they have.