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Santiago, Chile

Luciano "Lou" Castro
1962-63
I had the fortune and pleasure of spending a year at Oberlin, from August 1962 to July 1963.  Mr. and Mrs Frank L. Fields were my host parents while I attended to Oberlin High School; Jeff Fields, a Junior at OHS at the time was and is my American brother.  My first days at Fields’ were interesting and challenging, my host family organized a welcome reunion where future schoolmates were introduced to me, and the first difficulties arose immediately.  My English was not up to par, but with the help of a dictionary, and later on with the assistance from my American mother, Mrs. Jean Fields (I had to read in English for her every evening), gradually I managed to communicate without a problem.

Looking back, the year went fast, more so now that I realize this year it is the 41st anniversary of my first arrival to USA.  Upon return to Chile my mind was set up in returning to USA for good.  I had to wait eight long years before accomplishing such goal.  In the process I complied with my Military Service by becoming an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and Navigator in the Chilean Air Force.  Once I completed my military duty I went to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Tracking Station in Santiago, Chile; this moved facilitated my goal of returning to USA where I have been living, as a permanent resident and later as a US citizen, since 1970.  Also, before leaving Chile I married Sara whom joined me in USA the following year, and have recently celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary.

My professional life changed, since I could not pursue my ATC career, I decided to study Electronic Engineering specializing in Telecommunications.  This career led us to become nomads after we joined a giant Telecoms company, ITT.  Sara and I lived and worked in different parts of the world, Central America, Caribbean and Africa working on behalf of ITT.  It was this assignment that presented us with the opportunity to live in Zambia, 3 years in total, and we fell in love with the black continent and its wildlife.  During my years with ITT, the company decided to relocate its operations to Cape Canaveral, Florida, so we moved from Galion, Ohio back to the Sunshine State where we have kept our official residence since 1978.   When the majority of the ITT contracts expired, we were given an option to transfer with ITT to North Carolina or Indiana.  Sara and I decided that Florida was warm enough for us and decided to stay and joined McDonnell Douglas Astronautics (now Boeing) and went to work at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) with the US Space Program.  I had a fantastic career with MDAC, and spent four years in Europe as Program Manager for the Spacelab program coordinating and leading all the aerospace activities between NASA and 

the European Space Agency (ESA).  Based in Bremen, Germany, I worked and lived in the different countries that form the ESA 
consortium, plus toured other historical attractions from the Old Continent.

But all good things must come to an end.  Sara and I decided to return to USA, we missed our home after four years in Europe, but things were not the same.  The Challenger catastrophe had changed the Space Program considerably, and drastic changes were introduced to all the contractors running the US Space Program.  Some of those changes affected me, so after a long and careful thinking, Sara and I decided to “emigrate” to Africa.  We first thought of Zambia (our beloved African country) and then South Africa.  Zambia is a beautiful country, but unfortunately, for an engineer with my experience, there is no field to exercise my professional background, so we settled for South Africa, the closest we could be to Zambia.  In retrospect, we must admit that it was a tremendous experience.  We caught the tail end of apartheid and the beginning of a new South Africa with Ex-President Nelson Mandela becoming South Africa’s first black majority President, which in itself was a unique experience to say the least.  South Africa was a country full of opportunities for us, myself in particular.  Sara, my wife, was able to be closer to her “favorite children” (four-legged wildlife).  Quite often we found ourselves in a game park or in a private reserve.  However, at the end of every year, we would take a trek up to Zambia and in one instance we went around Central and Southern Africa for a month, enjoying the privileges of a simple life in contact with nature. 

Professionally, I worked for a semiconductor manufacturing company, South African Microelectronics Systems (the one and only in the Southern Hemisphere).  I also attended the University of South Africa and obtained a Master in Business Leadership (MBL) Degree, which help me to open my own International Telecommunications Consultancy firm, “L & S Telecoms, Inc”.

Besides our trips to the jungle, I ventured into sport commentating for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and had the opportunity to work as a live TV soccer commentator during the Soccer World Cup that was held in USA in 1994.  I must admit that my sting as a broadcaster was successful and continued doing it until our return to USA.  This success motivated me enough to write a book about the history of the World Cup, which was completed and published in April 2002.  So far, it has done pretty well, particularly in England.

Back in USA I rejoined the US Space Program, therefore I’m back at KSC but in a different capacity, as planning engineer.  Currently I’m involved in a system and instrument modernization project for the Shuttle program.  However, Sara and I go back to Africa every so often and enjoy our “second home”, the jungle. 

Updated 6 November 06
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