Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My life as a student

My name is Cristina Barvo (My full name is Maria Cristina but since I was 3 years old I decided to go by Cristina since my mother’s name is also Maria Cristina and I wanted my own identity. :)) I live in Woodland Hills, CA but I am originally from Colombia. I have been living in the states since January 2002, when I came to Boston to graduate school (Administration and Management with a Marketing Management Concentration), I moved to California in 2003, after I got married.

I lived in Bogota, Colombia until I was 23 years old. I believe we are all students since the day we are born. I feel that the fact that I was surrounded by adults during my fist years of life helped my language and cognitive skills. It also affected my social skills since I felt more comfortable socializing with adults than children when I started preschool.

I went to three different preschools and I remember all of them except the first one. At the fist one “Mi pequeño Mundo” (My little world), I did not stop crying the whole day. The second one was called “Petaquitas” and I liked it but it was closed shortly after I was accepted. Finally, I went to a wonderful preschool called “Periquito” (Little Chick). I believe, I suffered from separation anxiety and transitions were hard for me as a young child. I remember that my mother stayed in a room next door reading a book some days, I can picture her in mi mind right now. After a while, I felt at home and I remember the directors and my teachers with lots of love. My favorite challenge in the playground were the monkey bars and my favorite activity was feeding “Pepe” and “Pepa”, two rabbits that lived in the school and as you can imagine had a serious obesity problem.

I also remember some negative experiences in kindergarten and first grade. My kindergarten teacher didn't let me go to the bathroom one time and I poop in my underwear. I stayed with the same set of clothes until I went home because I was so afraid to tell her. It was not a pleasant experience. My first grade teacher told two classmates that were very close friends that they could not play together because they were not playing with other kids in the group. The rule was you can play with one but not with both. It was something I did not agree with and felt wrong at the time. Still does. I had a hard time transitioning from preschool to school. Interesting moments that stick in your memory.

The public education in Colombia is very poor and unfortunately lacks the qualified personnel to teach future generations (that is the case in many rural and urban areas as well). I was blessed with the possibility of attending private preschools and Elementary schools, but unfortunately not everybody has the same opportunities. I went to an only girl’s Catholic school.
In Colombia you go to the same school from Kindergarten to 11th grade. So you spend 14 years in the same institution with the same class and the same group of teachers. There were approximately 30 students in my class.

Living in Bogota, attending private institutions, I was not exposed to lots of cultural diversity. In Elementary we had 2 students (one Japanese and one American) joining our school for a year but that was about it. There was a Chilean girl that joined our classroom in high school. I recently found two of them on Facebook (I was really exited!!!). There were very few African Americans in my school. Even though respect and multiculturalism was encouraged by the teachers, many girls will make fun of them.

Based on my experience, I think the education in Colombia at the time was “podium based” as I like to call it (in preschool, elementary and high school). The teacher will take the podium and tell you what you needed to know (90%, the other 10% where group exercises to discuss or apply the concepts that you learned). You will have some homework to review the concepts by yourself. Teachers were very strict and the academic exigency was high in private schools. There was a lot of emphasis in academic concepts and many of the tests were based on memorizing concepts (I had no problem since I have a good memory) buy I definitely enjoyed more the classes with the teachers that developed our analysis skills and our critical thinking. I hardly remember preparing a class even at the university, only a few. Since I was a visual learner, I had no problem but many people struggled with this method.

When I performed the Multiple Intelligences Test, my strongest intelligences according to the Multiple Intelligence test are: Existential, Interpersonal and Visual. I also scored high in Logical and Kinesthetic.

Since I was a little kid I remember that during a test, I will remember in which section of the page of the book the information was located (Visual) and I normally highlight or make summaries of what I read (Kinesthetic). I also think I learn better when I understand the context and application of what I am learning (Existential and Logical) and the teacher and comments or participation from others members of the class greatly contribute to my learning process (Interpersonal).

I have always enjoyed being a student and learning is a passion for me. I love to learn about different cultures, human relationships, economics, politics, understanding how the world works, understanding how the mind works and understanding myself. I always try to keep my mind open to new opportunities and new concepts.

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