This man grew up in a home without water and electricity: today he speaks 8 languages and is a university professor
February 20, 2023
Life constantly challenges us and sometimes, it's difficult to get a leg up. Esteban Cichello Hübner's story, however, shows us that difficulties can be overcome with perseverance and tenacity. Esteban was born in La Falda, Argentina, in conditions of extreme poverty: the home in which he lived had no water and electricity. But despite being born into poverty, today Esteban is a highly esteemed professor at the University of Oxford, the renowned British institution.
"I was born in the mountains of Córdoba. When my parents divorced, my mother took us to Buenos Aires to a piece of land that my grandmother Raquel was buying. At the age of nine, I started working in a shop close to home. The owner knew we were poor so she offered me a job. I swept, wrapped eggs, filled the refrigerators and then went to school," Esteban said.
Esteban and his family lived in a very small structure, lacking essential structures such as proper floors and walls. They had a sheet metal ceiling and there was no kitchen, no toilet and no heating. "We basically lived in a shack, trying to survive by scavenging in rubbish bins. I got my first pair of shoes when I was 15. It was a very difficult life," he recalled. Once his elementary school was finished, Esteban's mother met her new husband and father to his brothers, but the economic conditions of the family did not improve very much.
Esteban managed get into a high school, but dropped out two years later: "I had to work and I couldn't concentrate on studying. I worked in a dental laboratory. When I changed jobs, the boss who hired me said: 'Esteban, you need to do more. I'll hire you as an apprentice but you have to study.' That encouragement inspired me to enroll in night school to get my diploma," said Esteban. After a lot of effort and sacrifice, Esteban managed to combine school and work, and even starting to travel.
He traveled to Israel and enrolled at the University of Jerusalem to study International Relations and Political Science. He applied to English universities and received positive responses from Stanford, Cambridge, Johns Hopkins and Oxford. However, in order to afford the tuition, he had to go to work in Tokyo, Japan. Shortly thereafter, he won a scholarship to Cambridge and Oxford. After obtaining a degree from Oxford, he began to study at the University of Salamanca in Spain.
Esteban has traveled to 80 countries around the world and speaks eight languages: Spanish, Hebrew, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German and even some Arabic. To date, he is a university professor at Oxford, and when he can, he returns to Argentina to visit schools and spread his message of hope: "the only way out of poverty is to attend school: don't underestimate the power of education". And we couldn't agree more!