Bogota, Colombia Report of what it's like to live there - 03/14/15
Personal Experiences from Bogota, Colombia
School Name: CGB
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?
Middle and High 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?
Admissions & Welcome:
1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?
Mediocre. If you don't speak Spanish, you can't talk to anyone in the office or administrative areas. If you are only an English speaker, you are cut off completely in that way.
Administration & School Procedures:
1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:
The atmosphere is not welcoming to foreigners, especially if you are not white or hispanic. There is much focus on skin color and class in Colombia.
2. 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:
In our experience, the local Colombian kids are favored over the foreign kids.
3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?
It's mediocre. Americans are used to a lot more interaction so that's an adjustment.
4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:
There is some of this; overall academics are quite good - the regular classes are very challenging.
5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:
Very, very few. Transportation/traffic and school location are very difficult, so they incorporate activities into the school day.
6. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):
There is a lot of homework in the high school, which is fine.
7. Administration-parent communication:
I definitely got the feeling the British administration was "annoyed" when the Americans speak up about issues.
8. Teacher-student communication:
Students tend to be disciplined unfairly without the parents being notified. We find that children are unfairly targeted by the local Colombian kids, and frequently pulled into the Counselor's office without the parents ever being notified. I find the secrecy unnerving and unfair. If it's all above board, why not communicate issues openly to the parents?
9. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?
The academics are quite good across the board.
10. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:
They are not all equipped to handle any sort of special-needs students. I have heard numerous stories.
11. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:
There are some Colombian teachers who refuse to interact with African-American parents. I have personally witnessed a Colombian teacher close a door in the face of an African-American male parent who was not being aggressive, but wanted to talk. "Mixed" couple are a complete spectacle and totally rejected by society. Think long and hard about bringing any non-Hispanic or non-white children to this country. Even if they are the "right" color they still will not be accepted by the student population.
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?
See above. I found the counseling to be unhelpful.
2. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?
Terrible! The campus is very small. Many kids complain that the PE staff embarrass them.
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?
AP and IB are available and good.
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)?
6. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?
Some classes are taught completely in Spanish, which is very difficult for new kids for the first year.
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 local Colombians will not socialize with the American or foreign kids. It is incredibly isolating.
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.
This is common. I am perplexed by reviews that claim otherwise. The staff will either not help, or can't. It is hard to change ingrained attitudes no matter how much attention is paid.
1. Greatest challenge?
The British teachers make a lot of what could be considered as anti-American comments in front of the student population. Please be aware you will have to review all history lessons at home, because the children will be taught history from the British perspective. This perspective includes teaching American participation in WWI and WWII was of no consequence. The American role on the world front is absolutely minimized and regularly criticized. Children are asked to defend American policies in front of the class.
2. Would you choose this school again? Why?
If I could reverse time and not attend this school, I would. It had a terribly negative impact on my children.