Meet La Bastilla's students: Eduardo Herrera Navarro

This week marks the end of our first semester here at La Bastilla and, for our first-year students, the end of their first 6 months in a boarding school.  I thought that this would be a good moment to have a catch up with one of our students, Eduardo Herrera Navarro from the first year, to find out how he feels about having survived his first semester here!

Eduardo is in good-spirits most of the time, but with only one day left before the school holidays, today he has an extra big smile on his face.  The students here generally find that their first semester is the hardest as they will have to leave their families for the first time to live away from home.  The challenges of life in a boarding-school not only include getting used to living with the other students, but also involve carrying out manual work in the business areas, in addition to the day-to-day tasks of washing clothes and helping to cook the school meals (a particular challenge for some of the boys who have never set foot in the kitchen before!)

Despite missing his family, Eduardo has achieved a fantastic first semester, scoring first-class marks in his technical exams of Agricultural Production, Pest Management and Coffee Production.  In addition to making great progress with the theoretical studies, he has also performed well in the practical areas, his favourite of which is working in the vegetable gardens.


It is not surprising that Eduardo does well in these areas, given that he already has considerable experience of working in agriculture.  His father lost his right leg to a landmine during the time of the Contra War and as a result, has limited employment opportunities.  Eduardo, who is 18 years old and the eldest of 8 children, bears the responsibility of assisting his parents in providing for the family.  During the weekends and holidays, he and his younger brother go out to work in the local farms where they sow grains, gather wood, clear weeds and pick fruit.

Given his circumstances, I am slightly surprised that Eduardo has actively chosen to remain studying.  After all, it is estimated that only 50% of young people in rural Nicaragua go to secondary school and that only a third of the population completes high school.  However, Eduardo explains to me that securing a job which pays a good salary will be the best way for him to help his family escape a life of poverty.  He feels that studying at La Bastilla provides him with a real opportunity to find such a job.  If he had not been able to come to La Bastilla, he would have had to attend a state secondary school, however, the advantage that he now has is that once he graduates from La Bastilla, he will already have 2 years of technical training, allowing him to jump right ahead into the third year of university, if he continues to study Agronomy.  


Eduardo admits that being a student here at La Bastilla is no easy ride; the hours are long and the work demands commitment and perseverance.  However, with small shrug and a smile he looks up and adds, “But you have to push yourself, as everything that has a cost, also has value”.  


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