Dr. Vance Gilbert and Ambassador Ana Maria Gonzalez
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 13, 2009 (CUOPM)
A Kittitian physician says studying in Cuba has changed his life and has lauded former Cuban President His Excellency Fidel Castro for allowing students of St. Kitts and Nevis to study for free in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation.
“Cuba has changed my life and has revolusionised my life. Cuba has shown me things that I believe many of us can share. It has taught us essentially principles like patriotism and for that that I am always glad to be able to give thanks in public to Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba for affording us an opportunity to go off and study for free, to get an education, to learn a different culture, to be different persons,” said Dr. Vance Gilbert, who was among 25 Kittitians, 10 of whom were physicians, who graduated in 2005.
Dr. Gilbert, who is Vice President of the Cuban Alumni Association of St. Kitts and Nevis was at the time presenting a token of appreciation to outgoing Resident Cuban Ambassador Her Excellency Ana Maria Gonzalez, at a local graduation ceremony for four students who have just completed training at Cuban universities.
“I am always grateful to Cuba and I will eternally be grateful to Cuba. Cuba has always promoted a message of unity, a message of camaraderie whereby we should always have a life of servitude to humanity. The life that you have is not yours. If you are not living your life for somebody else then you are wasting your life and that is the message that I have learnt in Cuba,” said Dr. Gilbert, adding: “The message is just as important as the messenger.”
He said Cuba sent Ana Maria Gonzalez to propagate that message and to generate stronger ties between the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Republic of Cuba.
“When she came here several ago, you could tell she was like an old shoe. She was comfortable. She was approachable. She is the type of person who you can go and talk with and you can call on her any time and she would listen,” said Dr. Gilbert, who hails from Tabernacle.
He praised the top Cuban diplomat for helping the Cuban Alumni Association in whatever activity or event that the group plans.
“You can always call on her and she is always willing to give of her best and even go beyond the call of duty and is always there for us,” said Dr. Gilbert.
“Words cannot really express gratitude. There is a proverb that “˜one can pay back a loan of gold, but one dies forever in the debt of those who are kind.’ And I believe that we, the members of the Cuban Alumni Association shall forever be in the debt of Ana Maria will forever be in the debt of Ana Maria Gonzalez. This is out token of appreciation of our love to you for what you have done for us,” said Dr. Gilbert as he made the presentation on behalf of the Cuban Alumni Association of St. Kitts and Nevis.