Santino Barros has come a long way to achieve a qualification.
The man from the Island of Timor Leste was among 200 hundred graduates who celebrated sweet success at the National University of Samoa yesterday (see story pages 4 and 5).
Mr. Barros graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies.
Timor Leste, also known as East Timor, is located in the South Asian Seas separating Australia and Indonesia.
For Mr. Barros, yesterday was a proud moment.
“The process in which led me to get this far has been a huge struggle,” he admits during an interview with the Weekend Observer.
“Not only am I in a foreign country away from my family but the language barrier was a real challenge for me.
“I struggled with the English language and communicating with Samoans who sometimes have limited English as well. It was very tough for me.”
But to his credit, he conquered the odds and was all smiles yesterday.
But this is just the beginning for a man who has his eyes set on a Masters level qualification.
“When the plane brought me to Samoa last year February, I promised myself that I would reach the sun but right now I have only reached the moon,” he said.
“The sun represents a Masters level degree and the moon is the Post Graduate level which I have just completed. I know I will get to the sun one day.”
So far, he says his time here in Samoa is something he will remember forever.
“Although I did not complete my goal of getting a Masters I am still happy with my one year here in Samoa. The good times that I have spent with my Samoan friends, learning the way of life here and the Fa’asamoa.
“Life back in my country is similar to Samoa. Throughout my time here I missed my family, friends and country but I knew that I had to finish what I started.
“Now Samoa is my second home and half of my heart belongs here; I will miss Samoa when I go back.”
Mr. Barros added that he has been waiting a long time to graduate and to become an official member of N.U.S’s Alumni.
”Today is a joyous day for me, my family and my country. I was meant to go back in December last year but I wanted to stay a little longer and to be a N.U.S Alumni. I have been waiting for four months to officially graduate.”
But none of this would have been possible without the help and support of friends and loved ones.
“Firstly I would like to give thanks to the source of all knowledge and strength who is God, we are nothing without him,” he said.
“Secondly I want to say thank you to my Samoan friends who I see as my family now. They supported and helped me throughout the one year that I stayed here and I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Mr. Barros concluded with a message to all the students still working hard.
“Nowadays education is important all over the world especially for developing countries. So it’s important that those who have finished school pursue higher level educations.”