Venezuelan Student Alliance president discusses his position

Victoria Abella/Staff Writer

When Eduardo Andres Guzman moved to Miami from Venezuela two years ago, he felt welcomed by FIU’s Venezuelan Student Alliance. A sophomore majoring in management information system, he has come full circle, becoming the president of the VSA.

“When I joined the club, the club gave me so many tools and they gave me friends… I knew that that I needed to do something in exchange for that so I guess being the President is the way that I can thank the club for giving me all this… and it’s also the way that I can give new tools and new opportunities to the members of the club so they can enjoy and experience the University career at their fullest.”

The VSA is a community of people who build each other up and offer many opportunities to grow professionally as well as have fun and build relationships in social events.

The purpose and goals of the VSA are to promote the Venezuelan culture within FIU and encourage others to learn more about the culture and country, according to Guzman.

“Another goal is to help other members to enjoy and develop in their University career. They have different types of activities such as professional development and any type of social activities, so they could network with people and also develop their professional skills so in the future they could be better prepared for getting a job or learning about people,” said Guzman.

Some professional development events have consisted of resume and interview workshops. Since their members are involved with other fields of organizations, they like to bring their own expertise to the table and learn from each other.

Hearing from the other members’ stories of interviews with companies, Guzman said that the VSA learns al that they can from those experiences.

“We try to support them by telling our students that FIU’s Career and Talent department, that they can reach those departments so they can get a better preparation for interviews and be better at their professional career,” said Guzman.

The VSA often host activities such as movie nights and trivia nights, which celebrate Venezuelan culture by showcasing talent and testing cultural expertise. Their big main event is the Arepazo.

“We go to the GC and we give away arepas to anyone who comes,” said Guzman. “That’s the event that we share with mostly every student that comes to us and they can learn about many people, [they] can try their first arepa and they can also learn about Venezuelan culture which is amazing.”

Though they are the Venezuelan Student Alliance, they are inclusive and “happily welcom[ing]” to students who are just interested in learning about the culture and meeting people. For Guzman, sharing in a community and networking with people is his favorite thing about being the president of VSA.

Going back to their roots, the VSA holds fundraisers to collect money, medicines, clothes and food for people back in Venezuela. One instance is using money from two recent bake sales to buy medicine and send a box to a Venezuelan non-governmental organization called Proyecto Mayú.

“[Proyecto Mayú’s] purpose is to help the native Venezuelans have healthcare because their nearest hospital in those places, in those tribes, are about two hours in car. If they had any type of emergency, they cannot travel… What they [the organization] do is a group of doctors go to those tribes and they try to cure the people over there,” said Guzman.

Through promoting Venezuelan talent within the United States or giving food to those in need in Venezuela, Guzman said that the VSA always tries to help out their country.

“[W]e believe that since the country has gave us everything, we have to give back and thank them,” said Guzman.

Similar to Guzman, the VSA has new students coming in not knowing anyone but having their life changed thanks to the club. One example is a girl who’s a transfer student that just entered this semester.

“She didn’t know anybody so right when she arrived to our first general meeting this semester.. we were super friendly and close to her.. And now you can see her with new friends, new relationships, new networking experiences. She now has a job inside FIU and everything was with the help of the club, and I guess that’s pretty amazing because we are changing this person’s life for a good way,” said Guzman.

Prioritizing people and community, Guzman also encourages Venezuelan students to join.

“It’s gonna be a life changing experience. It’s not only that they can get new experiences as the members, get new friends, networking, and everything, but also a way that you can help your country back,” said Guzman.

The Venezuelan Student Alliance meet are once a week, either on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night depending on what they’re doing that week. To keep up with the VSA, you can find them on Instagram @vsafiu and emailing them at infovsa@fiu.edu.

Photo by inakiasuncion on Flickr.

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