CARACAS, Venezuela — A car academy in Caracas that offers basic training for beginners has grown from a single student group to a network of more than 2,000 students across the country, where more than 40% of graduates go on to study in the United States.
The Caracas Academy of Applied Science and Technology (CARASTC) opened last year with students from all walks of life, from engineers to mechanics, to teachers and even doctors.
“This is our first year,” said Ana Marquez, who was a graduate of CARASTC in the early 2000s.
“We’ve learned a lot from each other.
We are all working together.
There is no one center that has all the students.”
Since then, the academy has grown into a sprawling network of around 30 branches across Caracas, with many more branches across the nation.
“It is a community and it’s not a small community,” said Carlos Varela, a graduate who works as a trainer in the academy.
“You don’t get the sense of a small village.
It is like a small city, and the people are friendly.”
For Marquez and Varel, the Academy has opened a door that opened a way to connect people from all classes in Caritas, an informal economy that has long attracted immigrants from Mexico, South America and Asia.
Varela has a background in teaching and was working in a car repair shop before he started CARASTA.
He says that in order to stay competitive, he was often the first one to take the first students.
Now, he’s looking to take on new challenges.
“We started a car school because it was the first thing I heard about,” he said.
“I was very excited.
It was the idea that we can take students who are from different countries, that they can learn and be in a position where they can be in the workforce and then get a better job.”
The car academy has also been a source of pride for the young people.
“I always feel like I belong to this community because it’s my first time,” said Marquez.
“It’s a place where you have to prove yourself.”
With the help of other graduates, Marquez has opened two car-repair shops in the city.
The academy also opened a car park in the capital, with classes taking place in an area known as the Caritas Plaza, where many students gather to hang out.
“Caracas is the most important city in Venezuela,” said Varelo.
“There is no other city in the world that has more than 1 million cars.”
With his background, Varelor has been able to get to know some of the students who go to CARASTSC.
“They are all very talented, they all know the streets, and they all want to learn,” said Vasquez.
The first CARASTCC classes were open to the public last spring, and it has since grown into the largest automotive academy in the country.
The first class in May was filled with students in suits, with the next class in October.
Students have started teaching their own courses, as well.
Verela is planning to teach his first class soon, and says that his students are eager to learn.
“Every time I teach something, they want to know more,” said him.
“The first class was so good because I was teaching about the mechanics of a car.
They were eager to see how to make the engine work.”
Varel has been a mentor for his students, teaching them the fundamentals of basic mechanics, including how to use a wrench.
Varrela said that he hopes that by teaching them more, the community will grow and that more cars will start arriving in Caracaas.
“Now we have so many cars, we have to learn how to build them.
We can build them faster, faster,” he added.”
But, if we build them fast enough, we can make more cars.”