Parents reflect as life changing journey begins for 80 St. Maarten students going to The Netherlands

POSTED: 08/4/14 10:03 PM

St. Maarten / By Milton G Pieters – Saying goodbye is not exactly an easy task for parents, especially when that girl or boy is the only child, but considering what they are about to undertake, it’s a sacrifice worth the wait.

It was a bitter sweet atmosphere inside the departure lounge at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) for the short but rather significant ceremony to mark the departure for the 80 students who winged out yesterday for the Netherlands.

This was the 3rd time that the management of the PJIA in collaboration with Domino’s Pizza and as was expected, it was no different. Attempts to suppress emotions became futile for some parents, guardians, close family members, and close friends. It was a tearful bon voyage.

The Today was able to get an insight into the minds of a few parents who agreed to air their thoughts long before the ceremony commenced. For Carina Korstanje, a proud mother of two, it was the second time she had to deal with the reality. And from the tone of her voice, it was not exactly easy either.

“As the baby in the house, it’s not easy but I think that I am better prepared now, it’s not as devastating as when the first one left,” Korstanje said. However, despite the fact that the biological circle has been broken, she is not left all alone because she is taking care of her cousin and her twins.

Unlike most of the students, Carmen Korstanje, who is pursuing a career in marketing and communications, will be joining her big sister Naomi in the Netherlands and that makes life a little bit easier for Carina. The eldest sister, who is here on holiday, is pursuing a career as a physical therapist and she has three more years in which to complete her studies.

In her response to the question of students not being able to get appropriate jobs that coincide with their respective qualifications after they have completed their studies, Carina said, “It’s hard for the students to choose a career and when they come back, they have to do something different. A lot of students are forced to make a tough decision, should they come back and accept a gigantic pay cut, it’s a tough call.”

Marcella Richardson is the proud mother of Rochana Richardson, who is also embarking on another step in the journey of education. Rochana happens to be the only daughter of her parents; they also have a 24 year old son.

“It’s emotional for me and her dad and it’s hard for any parent to watch their only daughter leave to go on such a far distance. That can cause sleepless nights but all we can do is pray and put her in the hands of the Lord,” she said.

As parents blessed to have a daughter who is very ambitious, they knew the day would come when they would have to part for academic reasons. Nothing, however, could have prepared them for that day when they would have to say bon voyage.

“It’s sad and heartbroken, those who do not have kids cannot imagine what we parents have to go through, the emotions are mixed,” she added.

But the perspective from a father who was about to say good bye to his eldest son is vastly different from that of a mother. “It’s not easy, but we have to deal with it,” said Police Officer Claudio Ellis.

“I still have three more sons, but the first one is always special and precious. We did our best to raise him up in the right way; all he has to do now is to follow the right path. Now that he is gone, my other son, who is now 14, will have to take up the slack as the eldest one in the house now. His mother and I know that now that he is gone, everything is in God’s hands,” Ellis concluded.

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