PM Gumbs: “Your island needs you” Tearful goodbyes to 27 students at the airport

POSTED: 08/6/15 7:02 PM



St. Maarten -The ceremony to mark the departure of 27 students who left St Maarten yesterday to further their studies in the Netherlands is a timely reminder of what must be done to encourage them to come back and take up responsible positions in the public and private sector.

For the fourth straight year, it was a time for parents, guardians, siblings and close friends bid Bon Voyage, something that is not easy to do under the circumstances. It was a time for emotions that were in some cases uncontrollable. Those bidding farewell had in common that the void their departure creates will not be filled until their return.

The management of the Princess Juliana International Airport and Domino’s Pizza provided the appropriate atmosphere for the students. Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, Minister of Education, Sports, Culture & Youth Affairs Rita Bourne-Gumbs, and the airport’s Managing Director Regina Labega were on hand to address the students before they boarded the KLM aircraft that will take them to Schiphol, Amsterdam.

“I want to wish you all the best and dedication with your studies. You are about to enter a new world in a new country. You are about to experience changes in weather and in culture. It is important for you to know that you are going there with a purpose. That purpose is to get an education and to come back to help to build your island,” Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs said.

The Prime Minister implored on the students the importance of commitment and warned them to be on the lookout for offers from businesses who will try to offer them employment because of their qualifications.

The Prime Minister further reiterated the importance of patriotism when he told the departing students, “Your island needs you.” Gumbs presented three students with a national flag.

“Hand it up over your bed wherever you are staying, the flag must be an indication to you and a stimulus to come back when you are through with your studies. Remember that there is a country waiting for you.”

Gumbs also told the parents that he is aware of their feelings and he knows that they will all miss the children. He urged them to give the students the necessary support and realize that they are leaving on a journey for their own benefit.

Minister Rita Bourne-Gumbs first took the opportunity to thank the management of the airport for hosting yet another farewell party for the departing students. “To the parents, I know it’s a moment when you feel sad to let go.  However, I want you to turn to the positive and say to yourself here is where I am sending my child away to make a difference then come back on St Maarten and make a difference. To the students, the government has invested in you so that you can return and invest in St Maarten and I urge you to remain focused and conquer all the challenges. I know it will not be easy,” she said. However, the ceremony would not have been complete without some complimentary remarks from the airport’s Managing Director Regina Labega.

“Here we are again to perform that annual farewell ritual, for us at the airport, this is the fourth consecutive year we are doing this. There will be nothing good in saying goodbye today if we were not convinced that soon we will be saying welcome back home. You are all leaving home as teenagers and will return as adults. Between now and then you will experience life like never before,” Labega said.

Labega told the students that what they do with their freedom will determine their individual success. On their way to the departure lounge, each student received a goody bag, compliments of the airport. The rescue and firefighting team was in place to perform a water canon salute for the departing plane.

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