They had never been so close to the stars and yet with such an earthly motive distancing them from them: lack of money. After being selected to participate in the International Air and Space Program (IASP) 2021 and travel to the NASA facilities in Huntsville, Alabama – a privilege that will only be granted to sixty young people worldwide – Abraham, Eduardo, Today Ian, Jorge and Sebastián face the challenge of raising more than 350 thousand pesos to cover the cost of their participation in the program.
The five young people, aged 18 to 21, are students at the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey in Cuernavaca, Morelos, and have in common the dream of conquering space since they were children. Today, six months after the start of the program, they are also united by the fundraising campaign that they have undertaken on different platforms: from the sale of tickets for the raffle of an air fryer to the collections they have opened in Donadora and Moneypool .
A race against time
Eduardo Porcayo remembers exactly how it was when he read the email confirming his participation in the program. It was, of course, a memorable moment.
“It was in the morning, and that whole week was waking up and checking the mail to see if they had sent anything. I had an exam and I said ‘you know what, I’m just going to focus on that.’ But I wake up, I see the mail and my spirits rose: I screamed, I jumped ”, he narrates. His four friends went through the same thing and, like him, they also faced a much more immediate fact: not having money to cover the 3,500 dollars (more than 70 thousand pesos) that the program costs, not counting expenses. Travel.
“We were aware that if we were selected, we would have to carry out campaigns, carry out certain movements, look for people, companies to finance this training, which by our own means we do not have the capacity to pay. So, once we were all accepted, we agreed to see what we could do, what we could do, “adds Eduardo, 18 years old.
Perhaps it was naivety that led them to expect too much from government institutions and authorities. In their first attempt to obtain financial support, the students went to public offices to request their help from officials and authorities. They delivered nine letters, none of them with a satisfactory answer.
“Some answered in ‘we are going to support them to spread the word, we are going to make them known’, but no one gave us financial support, which is what we were looking for,” says 18-year-old Ian Doring.
To date, the fundraising campaign has allowed them to collect just about 25 thousand pesos, something that has only been possible with the support of family, friends and people who, without knowing them, want to see them fulfill their dream.
“Each peso is one more step towards the stars,” says 19-year-old Abraham Vega, for whom the last few weeks have not been without disappointment and frustration:
“It is very frustrating to have to almost sell our image, our dignity to see if we can have support from those who thought we were going to get something, and sadly it is not like that,” he laments.
But the dream does not stop. And although all five know that the fundraising goal is difficult to achieve, they refuse to believe that it is impossible to achieve it.
“We have to reach the goal and continue like this. We try to think very objectively, it is a very difficult goal, but we do not believe that it is impossible to achieve ”, Eduardo says.
How to support?
For the fundraising, the five young people have formed a team that has come to be called “Argonautas Morelos”, with pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, and they have started the “From Morelos to space” campaigns in Donadora , where they have raised 12 thousand pesos, and in Moneypool.
In addition to the fryer raffle, Abraham Vega has made his bank account at BBVA available to the team, with account number 152 576 3484.
Convened by the AEXA Program, the International Air and Space Program is a five-day educational program, which involves teamwork, problem solving and communication not only between selected students, but also expert engineers from NASA, in order to adapt and solve any unexpected problems. In its edition for the fall of 2021, the program will take place from November 14 to 20 at the NASA facility in Huntsville, Alabama, with middle, high school and college students.
“I am convinced that I am going to become an astronaut. What is required to be done? Hard work. Study. Every day of my life I wake up with the motivation of that idea ”: Abraham Vega
“The fact that this opportunity is presented is something that moves me, motivates and excites me. Apart from the training that the program represents, which is incredible, the question of contacts and friendships with all the people who are going to meet is invaluable ”: Eduardo Porcayo
“Being able to be an astronaut, working there, is a dream since childhood that does not die. As children we want to be astronauts, firefighters, paleontologists, and the moment comes when you grow up and say ‘ok, I want to do it’. For me that dream is to be an astronaut ”: Ian Doring
“Since I was little I have liked to see the stars, go out at night and look up at the sky, wake up watching documentaries, pick up the magazines I found and learn about space. It has been something that I have loved. I never thought I would have this approach, to be one step closer to what I have always wanted ”: Jorge Emiliano Turner
“It is one of my aspirations to help with this, being an astronaut or working in a space agency to develop technology is something that I would like a lot, and I think this is a great opportunity”: Sebastián Cruz