TSXM – GREAT BAY- As ironic as it may sound, the 70 students who winged out for Holland did so after shedding tears on the shoulders of loved ones, after the KLM flight was showered with water to mark the 18th anniversary of the Fire Department and last but not least in a shower of rain.
This episode gets even better, the departure of the students occured at a time when the Princess Juliana International Airport, PJIA, is celebrating their 70th anniversary and that thought will remain on the minds of the departing students for the rest of their lives.
As was done in the past, a section PJIA was decorated specifically for the momentous occasion with a huge arc filled with balloons, a specially designed cake, cup cakes and pizza, compliments of Domino’s Pizza.
After the students had checked in and began to say their goodbyes for now to those who had taken the opportunity to be at the PJIA yesterday morning, they were addressed by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Minister of Education Patricia Lourens and Managing Director of the PJIA Regina Labega.
“As you may have noticed, we have tried to improve on the programme this year. First of all because you deserve it and secondly because we are celebrating out 70th anniversary in St Maarten,” Labega said.
Prime Minister Wescot-Williams joined Education Minister Patricia Laurens, Governor Eugène Holiday, Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Josiane Fleming-Artsen and airport director Regina Labega in wishing the departing students bon voyage. The students were given much encouragement and many offered emotional and kind words to the excited crowd.
The Prime Minister said that she was very proud to see the seventy students departing and that she wished them all the best in their studies abroad. “Today it is about telling you how proud we are of you that you have made it thus far and how expectant we are of you and trust that you will do an excellent job in your studies in the Netherlands. Every year our students leave us to further their studies in the Netherlands and elsewhere and there are great expectations from your parents, peers, your Government and indeed the whole community for you to return to the island and contribute to the development of your country.
“I would like to thank the Princess Juliana International Airport for hosting this farewell and for wishing all of you a proper Bon Voyage on your journey. You are traveling abroad to develop yourselves but I would like to encourage you to use technology to stay in touch, to ask questions or just to talk if you need some words of encouragement. I wish you a wonderful and exciting time of study and I look forward to the day when you will be returning to St. Maarten with a diploma in your hand.
“To the parents I say that I know that is hard to be separating with you. But our parents are with them; stay in touch with you children and let them know that St. Maarten cares for them,” Wescot-Williams said. “I have witnessed these departures for many years. I always do it with mixed emotions. I am happy to see our students leaving but I am also aware of the many pitfalls that they will face. I am a mother and I understand the nervousness that parents have with the students being out there in the Netherlands. It is a good experience but there are many pitfalls. We urge our students to be strong and to use the values that have been given to them and I wish them good luck.”