Families form the basis of society, playing a fundamental role in promoting education and lending support to others. Throughout EARTH University’s history, we have seen multiple generations of families pass through our classrooms and instructional farms – and we have admired their growth.
On this International Day of Families, we are catching up with a few of the families that have left their mark on EARTH over generations.
One family, three EARTHians
Jessica Castillo (’01, Costa Rica) and Óscar Delgado (’00, Costa Rica) first crossed paths at EARTH. Even though they hailed from distinct areas of the country, they shared the dream of becoming agricultural engineers. Little did they know that their decision to attend EARTH would result in much more than becoming respected professionals; it also resulted in the formation of their family. Today, they share two children: María José and Óscar.
The family’s deep connection to EARTH grew even stronger when María José Delgado (’20, Costa Rica) decided to study agricultural sciences. “Having two graduates as parents has made this field of study even more interesting and challenging. I have never felt pressured by either of them, but I want them both to feel proud of me, for who I am and what I accomplish.”
For Jessica, this is an experience unlike any other. “That María is studying agronomy keeps us updated. Beyond that, I love being able to talk with her about technical topics, hear her opinions, and discuss how the agriculture of the future will look. It is something that I did not think I would get to enjoy.”
María José is relishing this opportunity. “My parents always remind me that these four years fly by and I should take full advantage of them because it is one of the best stages of life. They could not be more right.”
For Óscar, agricultural engineering is dignified work. “We are proud to be agronomists and to contribute to feeding the world’s people every day.”
An honorable profession
Alicia Tejeda (’21, Honduras) has been passionate about agriculture since childhood, when she frequented the fields that her father worked and witnessed the growth process – starting with the germination of a tiny seed and ending in the harvest of a hearty crop.
For Joel Tejeda (‘93, Honduras) – Alicia’s father and graduate of EARTH’s first cohort – the human connections were the most valuable part of his years at the University. For Alicia, the best part is the expansiveness of the education. “It involves much more than teaching us to do something conventional. The University focuses on our character, on forming leaders of change.”
Alicia felt her respect for her father grow even greater at his class reunion a few months ago. Quietly watching as he delivered an emotive speech turned out to be incredibly moving. “Seeing him talk with my classmates, tell them stories and offer them help made me feel very happy and proud of my dad.”
Following his father’s footsteps
Abdiel Gaitán (‘94, Panama) knew that studying at EARTH would prepare him to excel in the profession he desired, a profession that aligned with his ideals and needs. He saw how he could adapt his studies to the difficult reality of his home country and community. “It was an extraordinary experience that changed my life and that of my family, including of my parents and siblings.” For Euclides Gaitán (’20, Panama), studying at EARTH enabled him to become part of a multicultural community – as well as come to understand his father’s history.
Both value the opportunity to learn each day by doing and to form close friendships with classmates who become like family. Abdiel shares an anecdote between chuckles: “Because I was a farmer and an early riser, I used to get up very early. I would awaken my classmates by loudly singing a typical folk song from the Panamanian countryside. All my friends from Costa Rica’s capital city would become so angry!”
Listening is a virtue
Edgar González (’97, Panama) came to EARTH thanks to a friend of his grandfather, a man he had heard speak very highly about the University.
For his daughter Giselle González (’19, Panama), interest in EARTH grew from a life-long proximity to agriculture and hearing her father’s many stories. As a child, she would listen with rapt attention. “After any story, I would think: I want to be there and experience that.”
Both share the opinion that their time at EARTH is unforgettable. Edgar remembers: “Despite all the sacrifices that we had to make so many years ago, every minute at EARTH has been worthwhile.”
For both, the experience of walking together through the University’s halls is really emotional. “Each time my dad brings me to EARTH, the professors and staff recognize him and they chat as if no time at all has passed.” Both father and daughter value the warm welcome that characterizes the EARTH family.