Gerardo Blanco left his home for the first time when he was only 17. He was raised in Caracas but decided to move to Maracaibo, following his dream of being a doctor. He immediately felt at home and an instant sense of belonging.
Seven years later, the situation was very different. Maracaibo was plagued by blackouts, which were increasing in length and frequency, and practicing medicine had become a nightmare, with scarce resources and little access to drugs. The city had become very unsafe, too. Gerardo had dreamed of establishing himself in Maracaibo and doing his mandatory rural year and residency there; however, he realized it was best to go back to Caracas, where he would have the support of his parents and more resources to work with.
Gerardo was now a medical doctor living with his parents, unable to afford the tires for his car. His hopes for independence and economic stability dashed due to the country’s situation, so he chose Chile as his next destination. The immigration process was relatively easy, and he knew he could prepare and excel at the exams needed to validate his degree.
The process for his visa, however, was delayed, so impatience gained ground. After all, pursuing his medical residency, which was what Gerardo wanted the most, would be very costly in Chile. He felt stuck, he was doing his rural practice and saw how resources became scarcer every day. When was he going to start living his life? He asked for advice from a friend who had left for the United States, a place he had never considered as an option as the process to validate his degree and enter a residency program seemed eternal. However, his friend told him to go for a couple of months and see how things worked before discarding the idea.
He would also have to make the huge sacrifice of asking for political asylum and forego any shot of going back to Venezuela any time soon.
Just like he moved to Maracaibo when he was 17, Gerardo embarked on a new adventure now that he was 26. He arrived in the United States in April 2019, firmly believing he would return to Venezuela later that year. He was sad about leaving the country even temporarily.
After meeting his friend in Atlanta (and his constant speeches about the good opportunities waiting for him), Gerardo stated that only if he could find opportunities to work as a doctor, would he dare consider it. The process to get into a residency was lengthy, but if he could work while studying, perhaps that could work. He was mostly appeasing his friend with these answers.
And then, an opportunity to work as a medical assistant opened up. He would be able to be involved in the medical field while saving up for the future. However, he would also have to make the huge sacrifice of asking for political asylum and forego any shot of going back to Venezuela any time soon.
Gerardo took the leap.
He hasn’t looked back since.
The difficulties he had faced in Venezuela helped him get a legal status. He now works at a family practice, after his asylum request was approved, and he’s earning the experience required to match a medical specialty, so he’s studying for the first of four exams he has to take. It took him a full year to find stability and a room to rent. Now, he even has a car thanks to his salary as a medical assistant. He has learned of other doctors in his same migratory condition who have been successful at landing a residency spot, and he’s certain he’ll have great letters of recommendation when the time comes.
He has the resources and a path to get to where he wants to be. Gerardo no longer fears he’s wasting his time, and he’s enjoying his independence and life as a young adult, while fighting for his dreams in the unexpected land he now calls home.
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