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K-State Today

October 6, 2014

Venezuelan student shares what life is like in his country

Submitted by Lauren Holtmeier

This is the first in a series of stories to illustrate the partnership with the Office of International Programs and students in Professor Barb DeSanto's MC 280 Public Relations Writing course. The students attend international events to cover the event as news and submit the stories as assignments.

Kansas State University student Mauricio Caldera gave a presentation about his home country of Venezuela on Sept. 26 at the International Student Center as part of an International Coffee Hour. Coffee Hour is a program set up by the international student and scholar services that allows international students to speak about their home countries in front of other students and staff.

Caldera first came to the United States as an exchange student in high school and is currently a junior at K-State in psychology. He began his presentation by speaking about the origins of the country and explained that Venezuela literally translates to "little Venice," but the country was colonized by Spain, which is why the country speaks Spanish. Caldera then showed a short video, which his brother had made, that was a sort of digital tour of the city of Caracas, showing different landmarks and the native people.

"I think it's a very genuine description of what the city looks like," he said.

Other cities in Venezuela and what they are known for were also discussed during the presentation. Valencia is Caldera's hometown and is the industrial city of Venezuela.

Caldera also talked about some of the main tourist destinations in his country. Speaking about Mérida, he said, "It’s pretty much the Colorado of Venezuela, but of course it's different, too." The comparison was made referring to the fact that Mérida has a lot of mountains as well as a lot of culture.

Much emphasis was put on the aesthetic beauty of the country. Caldera showed a picture that he had taken while driving down a street during his last visit home. "The infrastructure is bad, but take away these man-made things and it’s beautiful," he said.

In the second half of the presentation, Caldera talked about the bleak political climate in Venezuela. While he mainly focused on things relating to the Bolivarian Revolution, he briefly discussed one of the policies that Chávez put in place when he was elected in 1999. CADIVI was an exchange system put in place to control citizens' currency exchange.

Caldera also pointed out how violent it currently is in Venezuela, noting that 9 out of 10 crimes go unpunished. There is a scarcity of resources and getting basic necessities, such as toilet paper and groceries, is not an easy task.

"It's a hard reality for anyone living in Venezuela and any Venezuelan," he said, adding that his family is still there.

There are two sides to the Venezuelan coin, Caldera said. One side is beautiful, and one "has been stepped on by a very radical form of thinking."

During his presentation, Caldera discussed the difficulty of getting a plane ticket to go home during the winter break due to the terrible economy and the fact that many airlines have been forced to move their businesses out of the country.

He ended his presentation by saying that while Venezuela may not be the safest place to be right now politically, it is still a beautiful place and it is still his home. He even referred to it as a "diamond of South America."

At the end of the presentation Caldera was presented with a certificate from international student and scholar services.