Bogota, Colombia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/14/14
Personal Experiences from Bogota, Colombia
1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?
2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?
3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?
4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?
5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?
To obtain a quality education.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:
The local Colombian kids seem to be favored by the staff over the American kids.
2. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
Communication is extremely limited.
3. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
4. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
5. Administration-parent communication:
If you do not speak Spanish, you cannot communicate or even call the school. You cannot show up and communicate with the guard or with anyone in the office in order to make payments or to conduct similar activities.
6. Teacher-student communication:
The teachers are very different from what Americans are used to. Children report that teachers do not hesitate to humiliate children in front of their peers, and regularly announce all the grades from tests and projects. If a child is sick or hurt, the teachers are not concerned and do not believe in sending kids home for these issues. It is a different way of thinking.
Children report of regular anti-American comments made in front of the class.
7. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
The school does not recognize special needs such as ADD or ADHD although they claim to be able to work with kids with special needs. The medications needed are not legal in the country and it is difficult to get them in. The process involves many papers and waivers.
8. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?
9. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?
Your child will be expected from day one to take several classes per day completely in Spanish. The social language amongst the student population is Spanish. This can be overwhelming for new kids.
Academics & Resources:
1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?
Counseling at the school is the worst I have ever seen.
2. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
The school's facilities do not in any way support physical education and the children very much dislike PE.
3. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?
IB is available.
4. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?
5. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?
These opportunities are extremely limited.
6. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Social & Emotional Well-Being:
1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?
The Colombian kids do not mix with the American kids. The American kids, regardless of social skills or past experiences, will not succeed socially in this environment. It will not happen. Almost every American kid I talked to over a two-year period was extremely unhappy and a number of them had to seek outside counseling to cope.
2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.
Children report that extensive bullying is allowed and happens to the American kids. Children feel there is a lot of racial bias against children who are not Caucasian or Hispanic with light skin. The society is very racist and Colombian culture class teaches the "social pyramid." Colombians with white skin are at the top of the pyramid and those with black skin are at the bottom. My child reported being taught this in class, and he/she was also taught that mixing races is "wrong."
1. Would you choose this school again? Why?
Absolutely not. Do not bring your children to this country or to this school. I wish I would have listened to similar advice in 2012.